SPJ ethical code

CPA adopts code of ethics, encourages public to participate in ethics committee

At its August meeting, The Colorado Press Association board of directors unanimously approved a motion to adopt the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics as CPA’s ethical code.

“With all this fake news stuff going around, it’s become easy when someone doesn’t like an article to say it’s fake news,” said Matt Lubich, CPA board president. “Fake news has become a buzzword for what people don’t like, and we need to combat that and assure our readers that our core values as journalists remain and are important to us.”

SPJ’s Code of Ethics focuses 
on four key tenants:

  • Seek truth and report it: Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  • Minimize harm: Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
  • Act independently: The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
  • Be accountable and transparent: Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.

The Code of Ethics is not a set of rules, but rather a guide that encourages all who engage in journalism to take responsibility for the information they provide, regardless of the media medium. The code should be read as a whole; individual principles should not be taken out of context. It is not, nor can it be under the First Amendment, legally enforceable.

While many CPA members have already adopted the ethics code or set their own similar versions, this is the first time the association has formerly adopted it. Lubich says adopting the Code of Ethics is a symbolic restatement of values that are already in CPA members’ newsrooms.

“I don’t know a reporter or editor who is not concerned with the issues of accuracy and balance,” Lubich said. “We are letting people know that the basics of accuracy, balance and insight remains and always will remain the foundation of what we do.”

CPA encourages Coloradans who are interested in ethical journalism and media literacy to join its Ethics and Media Literacy Committee, which meets remotely quarterly. If interested, contact Russell at 303-571-5117 or at coloradopress@colopress.net.

“If people feel there are problems with the industry, volunteer to be on the committee,” Lubich said. “We could use all the insights we can get.”

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This article was originally published in CPA's quarterly magazine PressNext. Click here to subscribe and have your print copy delivered.