The ethics

Duncan, Sallyanne; Healey, Jo, ed. (2019) The ethics. In: Trauma Reporting. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 186-198. ISBN 9781138482098

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Journalists who undertake traumatic reporting work with vulnerable people – as sources, as those who appear in their stories, and in a wider context as their audience – so it is vital that they comprehend their professional standards and behave ethically. Practically speaking, ethics is about trying to do the “right” thing in difficult circumstances. Journalists do this by assessing a situation, making decisions about how they report a story and critically reflecting on their actions afterwards. Making ethical decisions often centres on where to draw the line. They do that by applying rules, considering their duties and responsibilities, thinking of the consequences of their actions and by striving to be a virtuous or good journalist. Generally, they are bound by professional standards, which often originate in codes of ethics, conduct or practice and are regulated by independent professional bodies. There are more than 310 journalism codes worldwide, some in countries with limited freedom of expression. Although they differ according to the particular governance, culture and society within their countries, they tend to be based on four ethical pillars: truth telling and accuracy; minimizing harm; independence, fairness and impartiality; and being accountable.