Why editorial ethics are important

An introduction to our editorial ethics section

<a href=4811596519.html target="_new">Image by Slack12</a> released via <a href=index-212.html target="_blank">Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</a>
Image by Slack12 released via Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Media Helping Media ethics section is designed to help journalists navigate some of the challenges they might face as they go about their work. The ethics modules are a set of guidelines, not rules. They need to be adapted to ensure that they are regionally and culturally relevant.

The guidelines are for journalists who want to provide robust, searching, issue-led journalism that informs the public debate so that the audience/users/readers can make educated choices.

The modules are based on a desire to deliver editorial excellence that reaches the whole audience regardless of race, religion, nationality, personal preferences and social status, with impartial, fair, accurate and objective information.

The material on this site has nothing to do with producing so-called ‘constructive news’ or ‘positive news’. Subjective value judgements sit uncomfortably with editorial ethics. These modules will help journalists deal with editorial issues affecting life as it really is rather than from a controlled perspective, which, in the view of the author of this piece, is not journalism.

Increasing demand for ethics training

The creation of this section follows a growing demand for training modules to help journalists cope with the editorial and ethical issues surrounding newsgathering and news delivery.

Many people have written editorial guidelines, and a search of the web will throw up dozens of variations. We have chosen to base the Media Helping Media guidelines on the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines. This is mainly because the two founders of Media Helping Media spent many years working at the BBC and have trained thousands of journalists in how to apply these guidelines.

However, the Media Helping Media guidelines are significantly different. Because they are used in training courses in various parts of the world, they are continually adapted and rewritten to reflect regional issues and sensitivities.

The issue in all cases is to deliver editorial excellence based on a clearly defined ethical code of practice that balances the rights to freedom of expression with editorial responsibility.

The modules in this section cover:

  • Accuracy: Producing well-sourced information based on solid evidence
  • Impartiality: Being fair and open-minded coverage while exploring all significant views
  • Fairness: Operating in a transparent, open, honest and fair manner based on straight dealing
  • Privacy: Ensuring we respect and never invade personal privacy unless it is in the public interest
  • Offence: Delivering challenging journalism that is sensitive to audience expectations
  • Integrity: Dealing with groups keen to use, manipulate or mould the media for their own advantage
  • Interactivity: Engaging the audience in our output in order to ensure that we reflect public opinion
  • Legal: Avoiding the courts while continuing to inform the public debate.

Check our ethics section for the full list of training modules.