A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists



April 24th, 2018 • Featured
Journalism’s complicated relationship with transparency

Despite first being added to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics in 2014, “transparency” has always been an elemental part of journalism. As SPJ embarks on its 15th annual Ethics Week and the organization calls for more transparency throughout journalism, it’s important to look back at the complicated relationship between the concept and the profession.


April 9th, 2018 • Featured
Sinclair’s ‘teachable moment’ raises even more questions

Sinclair Broadcast Group executives reportedly called the recent backlash to its company-wide promotional videos “teachable moment” in a call Wednesday with representatives from the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. That same day, the National Press Photographers Association issued a statement calling on all media companies to “improve and celebrate ethical journalism in effective, meaningful and respectful ways.” By “teachable moment,” perhaps the Sinclair executives – who include past NPPA honorees – meant they’d be teaching those who criticized their company a lesson.


April 3rd, 2018 • Featured
Sinclair’s mandates threaten independent, local journalism

Journalists at Sinclair Broadcast Group stations across the country have been appearing in carbon-copy promotional videos claiming that some media outlets are publishing “fake stories” and that some members of the media “push their own personal bias and agenda.” How America’s largest local TV owner turned its news anchors into soldiers in Trump’s war on the media: https://t.co/iLVtKRQycL pic.twitter.com/dMdSGellH3 — Deadspin (@Deadspin) March 31, 2018 As others point out, the videos are troubling since they borrow wording from some of the attacks President Donald Trump lobs at journalists and news organizations.


March 6th, 2018 • Code Words
On-Air Interviews – A Complex Equation

Journalists must know when to move discussions off air. Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide, granted many interviews to journalists Monday that produced several accusations and conflicting statements.


November 2nd, 2017 • Quill Archives
Newsroom ethics discussions don’t have to be uncomfortable

No person likes to confront co-workers or managers about issues in the workplace. The conversations can be uncomfortable and lead to hurt feelings. However, those discussions are often necessary to create a good work environment. In addition to topics such as salary issues and disputes with co-workers, journalists may sometimes need to confront managers and co-workers about another touchy subject: ethics.


August 28th, 2017 • Quill Archives
Ethics: Clarifying terrifying terms

Ricky John Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Micah David-Cole Fletcher were stabbed May 26 when they attempted to stop a man from harassing two teens with racist and anti-Muslim rants on a train in Portland, Oregon. Best and Namkai-Meche died. A lot of the attention on social media following the attack centered on the news media’s use or avoidance of the word “terrorism” in discussing the events.


June 14th, 2017 • Featured
Engagement: Buzzword No More

Newsrooms have heard for years now: engage, engage, engage. Build community. Connect. Interact. And maybe in so doing, you’ll get clicks that turn into dollars. Beyond the buzzwords, beyond the advice of so-called “gurus” and self-proclaimed experts, what does engagement – truly, practically, deeply – mean with the public?


June 14th, 2017 • Quill Archives
Editorial Partnerships Are Great, But Beware Potential Pitfalls

People are told since childhood to be cautious about the company they keep. Parents don’t want their children hanging with the proverbial bad kids or those known to make trouble. The old adage is important to remember as journalists and news organizations become increasingly involved with various collaborations.


April 13th, 2017 • Quill Archives
Beware the Rewards of Some Journalism Awards

Emails soliciting entries for various awards flood journalists’ inboxes toward the end of each year. Organizations like SPJ and the Online News Association administer most major contests, but many advocacy organizations offer similar awards intended to recognize journalists’ work. Non-profit organizations that advocate for cancer or environmental research, for example, may sponsor award contests for journalists covering those beats.


February 21st, 2017 • Quill Archives
Online Harassment Is An Ethics Issue For Journalists

The internet inarguably shook up the profession of journalism more than any other technology throughout its history. People spend a lot of time discussing the internet’s impact on storytelling and the business of journalism, but they typically ignore the harassment it unleashed on journalists.


November 10th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Ethics Toolbox

The SPJ Ethics Committee handles a lot of issues that, as expected, involve news outlets representing all kinds of media. What may surprise some people is that we also deal with a lot of issues involving non-fiction books. These issues often involve works that could be classified as creative non-fiction.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Ethics Toolbox

Opinion writing or broadcasting is a challenging endeavor. Crafting persuasive prose requires a lot of brain power, and sometimes it’s difficult to know what ethical boundaries exist when arguing a specific position. The Weekender, an alternative weekly publication in Northeast Pennsylvania, recently published a column from a regular contributor about him and his friend pretending to be veterans of the U.S.