RTDNA approves revised Code of Ethics

June 11, 2015 01:30

By Scott Libin, RTDNA Ethics Committee Chairman

Despite all the profound changes triggered by technology, world events and other societal forces over the past 15 years, it turns out the core values of journalism have held up pretty well over time. In fact, the newly revised RTDNA Code of Ethics, adopted this month by the Association's Board of Directors, is as notable for what's not new as for what is.

The guiding principles of reporting truth, editorial independence, minimizing harm, and accountability, articulated in the late 20th century by ethicist Bob Steele, underlie the 2015 Code, too. During 18 months of work, RTDNA's Ethics Committee considered search, social media, "native" content and other important changes in the way news is produced, distributed and consumed. The committee, however, found that the fundamentals of journalism not only remain relevant, but in fact are more essential than ever, as audiences seek sources they can trust in an era of information overload.

As its introduction reads, "The RTDNA Code of Ethics does not dictate what journalists should do in every ethical predicament; rather it offers resources to help journalists make better ethical decisions – on and off the job – for themselves and for the communities they serve."

The new RTDNA Code reflects input from a variety of sources. We received important input in person at the Excellence in Journalism 2014 convention and in writing since then. Our revision reflects that feedback, and we are grateful to all who provided it.

That opportunity to contribute to our Code doesn't end now. We don't plan to wait another 15 years before taking another critical look at it. We believe it deserves continual review and reflection to ensure that it remains relevant, current and essential. Your thoughts are welcome. Please share them with a comment here, or by email to Ethics Chair Scott Libin, slibin@umn.edu.