Codes of Ethics for journalists

The question of what sorts of behaviour and actions are acceptable is governed by something called ethics. For journalists, there are several places they can go for guidance on what is and isn’t ethical behaviour.

It’s a great idea for journalists to keep a copy of the code of ethics they work to handy and ensure that prospective clients are aware that you aren’t just flying by the seat of your pants and follow a set of rules when it comes to how you work.

I think every journalist ought to establish a personal Code of Ethics. Most of the time it won’t be needed but there are moments, in the heat of a story, where emotions and excitement might get the better of us. Thinking about how that might happen and how we might best react in those moments before they happen can help us to react appropriately and not in a way that will harm one of our most curitical attributes – our reputation..

To help out with thinking about those situations and what you should do, here are links to the Codes of Ethics for some journalist’s associations.

CountryOrganisationLink to Code of Ethics
AustraliaMedia, Entertainment and Arts Alliancewww.alliance.org.au/code-of-ethics.html
United States of AmericaSociety of Professional Journalistswww.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
EnglandNational Union of Journalistsmedia.gn.apc.org/nujcode.html

Go the extra mile

This is a guest post by David Hague, editor of AusCam Online. If you want your clients to remember you, this story will tell you what you need to do. You can follow David on Twitter  – he’s @vbthedog

Many years ago, I had occasion to drive from the Gold Coast where I was living at the time to Mackay in northern Queensland – a journey of about 873km (or 542 miles). My younger brother lived there and from time to time I’d make the 12 hour trip for a break.

This particular trip, as I approached Rockhampton at around 4.00 in the afternoon the skies got darker and darker, lighting started flashing interspersed with enormous thunderclaps and the rain started to pelt down. This was now not driving weather.

I stopped at the first motel I came to in Rockhampton – the Country Comfort – and decided to stay the night and finish the journey in the morning.

The service was fabulous, the steak was great and the owners were very friendly – even offering a complimentary port along with a chat.

I got up next morning bright and early to get going. The skies were clear and things were starting to dry out. I got my stuff together, such as it was, and went to the car, to find a leaflet under the windscreen wiper.

We all have foibles about one thing or another and I am not immune from them having a few myself – one being an intense dislike for people who put litter under my windscreen wiper! I ripped it out and was about to screw it up and find a bin when I noticed the motel’s logo on the top. It was a note from a staff member that read,

“We noticed your car was dirty after your trip, so this morning after the rain we took the liberty of washing it and cleaning the windows. Have a safe onward journey”.

I was thoroughly gobsmacked!

This was surely a brilliant example of a business going the extra mile and almost guaranteeing repeat business. But it doesn’t quite end there. Almost 12 months later I made the same trip and made a point of again staying at the Country Comfort. Not only did they remember my name, what wine I drank and the meal I had, they again also washed my car.