By Brianna Kelly
SPJ/ONA DePaul President
The past two SPJ/ONA DePaul chapter meetings were dedicated to re-evaluating the SPJ Code of Ethics and suggesting changes. This is part of a national movement in the organization to update the code and make it more relevant.
Since the journalistic guidelines haven’t been revisited since 1996, we felt that it was important to review it with a critical eye. We took a page from the book of the University of Georgia’s SPJ/ONA chapter for our own rewrite session.
On Jan. 27, the chapter executive board and a couple of members met for the first in-depth look at the code. We went through it line-by-line, brainstorming suggestions of how it can be improved. Most of our ideas (in red) focused on expanding and clarifying existing guidelines.
Then we invited DePaul professors Jason Martin and Bruce Evensen, who specialize in journalism ethics and social responsibility, to the meeting on Feb. 25 to review our suggestions. They gave us feedback and shared their own ideas that you see linked below.
We decided that a set of guidelines should be established to define proper conduct on social media. There needs to be a standard for the way journalists interact with other users, find sources, break news, cite outside information, share stories and so on. The current code isn’t clear on how to address those areas.
Our chapter also urges the committee to strongly consider a more flexible code, such as the one being developed by the Online News Association. We also encourage the committee to implement many of the ideas and suggestions from veteran online journalist Steve Buttry.
Also, we strongly encourage other student chapters to review the code and make recommendations. Make sure you voice is heard.
Read the .PDF of our recommended changes: SPJ Code of Ethics Changes Notes