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May 7, 2020 / Law/Ethics

So your staff is trapped at home with deadlines looming, and not only do you have to find the name of that blurry-faced kid in the back row of the NHS photo, but now you need to toss out a spread on packed lunches to make room for two pages of coronavirus coverage. A spread,…

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November 17, 2009 / Fall 2009 / Law/Ethics

The National Scholastic Press Association’s Model Code of Ethics has made it easier to include an ethics code in staff manuals.

Teaching students under the age of 18 right from wrong is hard enough. But teaching them to navigate the gray areas in between while being responsible journalists can be daunting.

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I start the school year with ethics as the number one focus. I have my students research news stories on the internet, finding incidents where students violated the rights of others using school media. This exercise enables students to see their legal responsibility as part of the school media, and to be careful with images. I also give an essay assignment, allowing students to pick from two sticky, ethical situations, and ask them to respond as to how they would handle one of them.

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With technology and digital media evolving at an incredible rate, it is not surprising that journalistic ethics have struggled to keep pace. In the struggle, we have yet to arrive at one set conclusion.

In March 2001, a Los Angeles Times photographer who was covering the war in Iraq used Adobe Photoshop to combine two photos. The resulting image was printed on the front page of two newspapers. Less than a week later, the photographer was fired.

In some of these situations, it is clear that photojournalists or their editors made unethical decisions. In others, judgment is not so easy.

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