The journalism department's awards from the California College Media Association displayed in Gist Hall on March 5. | Photo by Emily Osthimer

EDITORIAL: Our code of ethics

Students serving the Humboldt State campus and community since 1929

Students serving the Humboldt State campus and community since 1929

The Journalism Code of Ethics is what every journalist follows, whether they are a writer from a multi-media conglomerate or a student run newspaper. We of the Lumberjack newspaper hold these code of ethics to heart, as it helps us navigate the world of becoming a journalist and presenting our stories to readers or viewers.

One of the most vital rules we follow is to never show our work to the sources. We strive to make our stories as accurate as possible, and when we are asked by sources to preview a story before it’s publish, it will most likely not happen. We follow this rule because it takes away the independence of a journalist from gathering, writing and editing their story. If we were to share the story it would no longer belong to the writer, it instead implies that it belongs to the source. Our job as journalists is to seek the truth to a story and report it. Allowing someone to preview the story takes that away from us.

Previewing a story for a source also sets a precedent of having to allow every source in the Lumberjack newspaper to preview a story. Hypothetically speaking, say we allow a story to be previewed by source. But because a minimum amount of sources for a story is three, that means having to allow those sources to preview the story as well. Not only that, but other stories have to follow the same thing as well. It not only takes away the story from the writer, but it takes time needed for the news to be published.

The only time a journalist is allowed to share what they wrote for a story, is if they are talking about something complex like quantum physics. In this case, an expert can be consulted for accuracy.

We understand the concern of a source wanting to preview a story is for accuracy purposes, but it’s up to us as journalists to be accurate in our story. If more clarity is needed in a story, the journalists will most likely ask for it.

Student journalism can be an unpaid profession. Some students have to juggle running the news, while also attending classes. We have a rare luxury of making mistakes in the Lumberjack, but we learn from them.

Mistakes are bound to be made. When we make mistakes, we answer questions of accuracy and make necessary correction as soon as possible. For us it’s a learning experience to run the Lumberjack. We are held to a high standard for delivering an accurate and fair story to our readers, so much so that we’ve won awards for our excellence. We pride ourselves in delivering stories for our readers.

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One Comment

  1. Deidre Pike Deidre Pike Thursday, March 7, 2019

    Well articulated. This is a key: “Our job as journalists is to seek the truth to a story and report it. Allowing someone to preview the story takes that away from us.” Stories that are previewed and approved by sources are not journalism. They are promotional stories that perform a public relations function.
    Thanks for making this clear to Lumberjack readers.

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