In the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists,” co-author Ron Ross and I included a section on 15 core values that we believe should be upheld by professional and citizen journalists alike.
In light of the recently reported unethical practices involving Rupert Murdoch’s publications, it seems like a good time to discuss some of those core values.
Perhaps especially poignant is core value #15: Integrity. The following is how the handbook describes its importance.
“One gets a sense of the importance of integrity to the journalism profession by this powerful sentence found in the Preamble of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics: ‘Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.’
“Unfortunately, journalism’s cornerstone of integrity has been crumbling in the last few years. The profession has suffered because of widely-reported and well-documented examples of journalistic bias, fraud, plagiarism and fabrication. The cornerstone needs to be restored.
“Citizen journalists must join the many serious professional journalists who still adhere to the ethics and standards that made journalism a valuable and honorable profession. It all begins with integrity.
“Integrity is the virtue of basing all of an individual’s words and deeds on an unswerving framework of personally-held, well-developed principles. This means one must know what is right and wrong, good and evil, helpful and hurtful, and then act accordingly, even at personal cost. Integrity could be called the virtue of all virtues.
“Journalistic integrity suffers when reporters allow their bias to dictate which story to cover and what facts to reveal or hide. Journalistic integrity suffers when stories are made up and presented as real, when phony evidence is offered as authentic and when made-up quotes are repeated as real. The biggest challenge is that once integrity is lost, it is difficult to re-establish.
“Integrity starts from within. Those who live and work with integrity will be empowered and respected by all. Those who act with integrity will bewilder those who are deceitful and enlighten those who are sincere; it’s a wonderful thing.”
Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists,” which can be purchased as an e-book at http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/.