7 Canons of Journalism

An honorable journalist follows the 7 canons of journalism. The list demands: responsibility, freedom of press, independence, sincerity and truthfulness and accuracy, impartiality, and fair play and finally decency. Canons of Journalism and Statement of Principles were issued by the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1923 to help restore journalism’s tainted reputation after the yellow era. This was when yellow journalism was on the forefront in the journalism community and public.

Journalist “have a responsibility to these kids!” I feel like it is a quote from a film because I can actually hear it in my head, but I have no idea at this point. Either way, journalist have a lot of responsibility to the public’s welfare. You want your followers to be informed of the current issues occurring in our world, and you are supposed to make a positive impact on people. You achieve this by only reporting stories that everyone can benefit from.

Freedom of the press is an impressive canon, it is actually protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment which, of course, is freedom of speech. The Bill of Rights reads, “Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech or of press.” This allows journalists to collect, print, and distribute information without the fear of any type of censorship. This should be taken with responsibility and should be in the best interest of the people to insure the truth is being brought to light.

Independence. This canon is exactly like it sounds. Journalists must to separate themselves from other responsibilities associated with anything other than their responsibility to provide information that informs and protects the public. This means you will not be influenced by politicians and advertisers as well as your sources. You must not let any of these convince or bribe you in attempt to sway you away from reporting the truth. It is a true test of character; if you can do the right thing in the face of money or fame, for lack of a better term.

Sincerity, truthfulness and accuracy, is the fourth canon, which I feel is the most important. With accurate information it is easier to write the truth. There is nothing worse than reporting a false story that tarnishes the integrity of yourself and the story you are attempting to tell. If you are found to have embellished or even falsified a story from either not doing enough research or not checking if your sources are accurate, it could really bite your career in the ass. Sincerity, I have assurance in, is just really believing in what you are reporting. Having a passion for something also makes it easier to be truthful, when you really believe in a particular story and want action, you are driven by that passion to give an accurate and trusting story.

Impartiality, the fifth is probably one I struggle with. This cannon means you are reporting on stories without bias or your own personal opinions. I am really opinionated, and even though I know I can be wrong, and it is always in my best interest to hear the other side, I end up being stuck in my own beliefs. My parents always told me I would make a good lawyer, because when I feel strongly about something, I will not stop until you do too. This canon can be disregarded though if your articles or a specific article is based on your opinion. You must be extra careful not to translate your views into your articles.

When a journalist is writing or reporting on a story, (s)he needs to take into account the opposing view and be sure to include these points as well. This helps to eliminate bias and swaying masses to a certain view point. This is referred to as fair play. If a person is accused of a particular crime and a journalist essentially does not include his or her lack of trial and conviction, should not say they committed it. If you turn it into a game, you have to allow your opposite view a chance to play, otherwise it would not be fair. The public should be informed accurately of both sides of an issue to form their own opinion.

The final canon of journalism is decency. This refers to not reporting the unsavory, disturbing or crude details of particular crime in order to spare your readers or viewers from being terribly troubled. Journalist can report the general story, but going into details of a particular crime really could leave a salty taste in reader’s mouth which would turn off the reader or viewer from still being a follower of the program or newspaper.

If you noticed a lot of the canons really do tie together, they are all connected. You must remember all the 7 canons of journalism if you want to become a fine, respected journalist, and must NEVER forget how important and vital every canon is individually and also as a whole.

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