DEN Code of Ethics

The Daily Eastern News serves and informs the Eastern community and the Charleston community.

Every person who works for The Daily Eastern News editorial staff must follow a Code of Ethics. If a person cannot follow the code he must consult the executive editorial staff.

Such a code is essential to building a certain amount of trust between the readers of this paper and the journalists working on it. This trust includes carrying out the job of a journalist with intelligence, objectivity, accuracy, and fairness. If this trust is broken, then we have failed as journalists.

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
Freedom of the press is to be guarded as an inalienable right of people in a free society. It carries with it the freedom and responsibility to discuss, question and challenge actions and utterances of our government and of our public and private institutions. Journalists uphold the right to speak unpopular opinions and the privilege to agree with the majority.

ETHICS
Journalists must be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know the truth.

1. Gifts, favors, special treatment, free travel, free meals or privileges can compromise the integrity of journalists. They should neither accept anything nor pursue any activity that might compromise or seem to compromise their integrity. Some gifts – free in particular – can be accepted only with the understanding that the journalist is not obligated to the source offering free travel; such exceptions shall be made because of the frugal nature of a student newspaper.

2. Pledges of confidentiality to news sources must be honored at all costs and therefore should not be held lightly. Unless there is a clear and pressing need to maintain confidential sources, sources of information should be identified. Journalists should make every effort to get information on the record. If that is not possible, journalists should seek information elsewhere. If that fails, journalists should get an on-the-record reason for not identifying the source and should include the reason in the story; also journalists should seek to identify the source by position, department or any other type of identification. When journalists agree to protect a source’s identity, that identity will not be made known to anyone. A journalist shall tell his editor of any confidential information only upon approval of the journalist’s source.

3. Political involvement, holding public office, secondary employment and service in community organizations should be avoided if it compromises the integrity of the journalist and his or her ability to report and edit with fairness. His or her life should be conducted in a manner which protects him or her from a conflict of interest. All journalists will notify the editor in chief in writing of any outside commitments that may affect their integrity. A journalist shall not be allowed to file a story where a conflict of interest is real or apparent.

4. Press releases from private sources should not be published without substantiation to their claims of news value.

5. Journalists will make constant efforts to print news that serves the public interest, despite the obstacles.

ACCURACY AND OBJECTIVITY
Good faith with the public is the foundation of all worthy journalism.
1. Truth is our ultimate goal.
2. Objectivity in reporting the news is a goal student journalists should strive for on this paper.
3. There is no excuse for inaccuracies or lack of thoroughness.
4. Newspaper headlines should be fully warranted by the contents of the articles they accompany. Photographs and telecasts should give an accurate picture of an event and not highlight an incident out of context.
5. Sound practice makes clear distinction between news reports and expressions of opinion. News reports should be free of opinion or bias and represent all sides of an issue.
6. Partisanship in editorial comment that knowingly departs from the truth violates the spirit of American journalism.
7. Journalists recognize their responsibility for offering informed analysis, comment, and editorial opinion on public events and issues. They accept the obligation to present such material by individuals whose competence, experience and judgment qualify them for it.
8. Special articles or presentations devoted to advocacy or the writer’s own conclusions and interpretations should be labeled as such.

FAIR PLAY
The dignity, privacy, rights and well-being of people encountered during the course of gathering the news shall be respected.
1. Unofficial charges affecting the reputation or moral character shall not be published without giving the accused a fair chance to reply.
2. Errors shall be corrected with completeness and expediency. The Daily Eastern News shall print all corrections in a conspicuous place on Page 3.
3. Journalists should be accountable to the public for their reports, and the public should be encouraged to voice its grievances against the media. Open dialogue with our readers, viewers and listeners should be fostered.

RESPONSIBILITY
The public’s right to know of events of public importance and interest is the overriding mission of the mass media. The purpose of distributing news and enlightened opinion is to serve the general welfare. Journalists who use their professional status as representatives of the public for selfish or other unworthy motives violate a high trust.

The Daily Eastern News code of ethics is based on the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics.

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