Ethics of Journalism

Course Overview

Ethics of Journalism
Self-Directed Course
This $29.95 course is free thanks to the support of the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

About Self-Directed Courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.

Ethical decision-making is as essential to a journalist's craft as interviewing, writing, editing, photography and design. As a journalist, you can — and should— hone this skill.

This course will help you develop a process for making ethical decisions — before you're faced with a tough call on deadline. It will help you identify and understand the ethical questions that can arise in any story you are working on. And it will give you the confidence to make those tough calls and defend your decisions to your editors, your colleagues and your audience.

At Poynter's NewsU, we take ethics seriously. That's why you'll find so much rich content in this course. This is not a course to work through once and leave behind. You are likely to find yourself coming back to it again and again for help making challenging decisions and to learn from others who have faced similar dilemmas.

This course is designed to give you the techniques and tools you need to confront complex and complicated ethical issues, make difficult decisions and support those decisions with clear and rational thought.

What Will I Learn:

Upon completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify ethical issues in stories you cover
  • Understand the guiding principles and values of ethical journalism
  • Develop and follow a rational process for figuring out your options when faced with an ethics problem
  • Practice sound ethical decision-making
  • Justify the decisions you make to your editors, your colleagues and your audience
Who should take this course:

Journalists and other newsroom leaders who want to make sound decisions, as well as anyone interested in the ethical guidelines for fair, accurate and honest journalism.

Course Instructors:

Kelly McBride

Kelly McBride is the vice president at The Poynter Institute. She is a writer, teacher and one of the country's leading voices when it comes to media ethics. She has been on the faculty of The Poynter Institute since 2002 and is editor, along with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute, of The New Ethics of Journalism : Principles for the 21st Century.

Her other work involves Poynter’s Sense-Making Project, a Ford Foundation project examining the transformation of journalism from a profession of a few to a civic obligation of many, the effects of technology on democracy, and the media habits of the millennial generation. She conducts workshops in newsrooms and at journalism conventions across the country. Twice she has traveled to South Africa to lead advanced reporting and writing seminars geared toward reporters working in a young democracy. You can follow her on Twitter at @kellymcb.

Caitlin Johnston

Caitlin Johnston is a journalist whose work has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, The Dallas Morning News and the Baltimore Sun. While with the Tampa Bay Times, she spent 10 days on the road with a local band, detailing their journey to the Bonnaroo summer music festival. She covers regional news, including military life, human trafficking and county politics. Prior to her work in Florida, she was an editorial assistant for the American Journalism Review, where she wrote the Spring 2012 cover story on the effects of tablets on legacy news outlets.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is the director of the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, DePauw University, in Greencastle, Ind., and is the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at The Poynter Institute.

Training Partner:

Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation

Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation was established in 1982 by Edith Kinney Gaylord to support projects designed to improve the quality and ethical standards of journalism. The Foundation provides grants to journalism institutions nationwide. An Advisory Committee meets periodically to review requests and recommend grants, after which the Directors act on the recommendations and if approved, distributions are made.

EEJF underwent a strategic planning process in 2008 to redefine areas of interest in order to increase its impact in grant-making.

Technical Requirements:

For this course you will need to have at least version 7.0 of the Flash plugin installed. For the best experience, we suggest that:

  • PC users use Internet Explorer or Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox
  • Mac users use Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox or Safari
  • You set your monitor resolution to 1024 x 768 or higher
  • You use a high-speed connection