The Society of Professional Journalists (known as SPJ) is in the process of revising their Code of Ethics which will affect thousands of journalists but it might be about time since journalism has changed a little since it was last revised in 1996. A 18 member committee, is finally working on a revision of the Code of Ethics.
Holding final say on the code is an 18-member committee of professional journalists. Take a look at some of the revisions they’ve made so far:
These revisions are nothing short of the beginning. This careful revision process expected to last until mid-summer. If you’re interested in reading the suggested revisions check out this PDF that shows the changes beside the current.
Looking at the current it’s clear that several of these ethical precepts could use revision and several of the suggestions from the SPJ have been met with a mixed reactions from the network of journalists they provide for. Some journalists are happy about the changes, some think they might be unnecessary, but many more want to see that even more is done.
Several people have commented on the original announcement, which was posted and has remained update on an SPJ blog. Commenters had a lot to say and many called for the revision to delve even deeper into the topics and to clarify the terms being used prolifically like “nontraditional provider,” “fair,” and “balance” adjacent to journalism. Another topic they’re discussing is the reevaluation of exactly what is ethical in regards to censorship, a topic that, undoubtedly, needs more than a few weeks to properly consider.
This idea of revising the journalist’s code brings up several questions that need to be discussed before anything is finalized: How specific can the code become before it might encroach of a journalist’s ability to report, should it remain for interpretation as it is now? Would the code be better shortened? Lengthened and detailed? Why does it matter that journalists have a code in the first place?
If you find yourself with strong opinions or recommendations, the revision is only in the first draft and SPJ is encouraging the participation and comments of fellow journalists.