Infusing Ethics in our Student Media

The Research and Creation of a Self-Guided, Online Ethics Training for College Journalists

By Amanda C. Bright and Catherine E. Jewell
Eastern Illinois University

Recent political and social events have brought into sharp focus the issue of ethical behavior in the practice of journalism, thus creating a critical need for providing student media members with a solid ethical grounding. The pervasive issue of fake news has created a sense of urgency in the pedagogy of ethical standards, as well. Tim Gallagher highlighted a gap in journalistic understanding in his article, Living Up to Our Standards, stating:

Robert Bergland at the Walter Cronkite Conference on Media Ethics at Missouri Western State University, Nov. 9, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson

The public does not understand how reporters and editors sift through potential stories, make decisions about what to cover (with disinterest for the partisan viewpoints), and then begin the process of accumulating information, discarding some of it, challenging “proof” that sources offer, and finally choosing the words that will tell the story. The public knows nothing of the editing process. Fake news has none of this. (Gallagher 2017, 22)

Students new to university newsrooms come often with this “public” understanding of journalism. Hence, the bulk of real journalistic training begins in university programs. Students, however, often begin publishing work through student media soon after starting college, when ethics courses may not have been taken yet. Continue reading Infusing Ethics in our Student Media