Landman Library

Journalistic Integrity

What is Journalistic Integrity and Why is it Important?

There are some dubious news organizations out there. There are also individuals and groups of people who intentionally spread misnformation, rumors, and outright lies, which is especially easy to do online.  That is why it is important to remember that there are many news organizations that practice with journalistic integrity - a code of ethics that is shared across the profession.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, some of those key ethical concepts include:

  • Seek truth and report it
    • Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  • Minimize harm
    • Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
  • Act independently
    • The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public (not the government or corporations).
  • Be accountable and transparent
    • Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.

Journalists practice these ethics with good reporting practices, such as:

  • Providing accurate information that is verified before it is released.
  • Clearly identifying the sources of information.
  • Keeping sources anonymous only when they have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere and may face danger, retribution, or other harm for sharing.
  • Gathering, updating, and correcting information throughout the life of a news story. 
  • Acknowledging mistakes and correcting them promptly and prominently.