Ethics and journalism


Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.

  • Seek Truth and Report It
    • Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  • Minimize Harm
    • Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
  • Act Independently
    • Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.
  • Be Accountable
    • Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of writers, editors and other news professionals. The present version of the code was adopted by the 1996 SPJ National Convention, after months of study and debate among the Society’s members.
Sigma Delta Chi’s first Code of Ethics was borrowed from the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1926. In 1973, Sigma Delta Chi wrote its own code, which was revised in 1984, 1987 and 1996.