Friday, March 17, 2017

Journalism Code of Ethics: Modern Revision

The Society of Professional Journalists maintains a Code of Ethics for all journalists to abide by. Like all things in our fast-paced, rapidly changing society, it has become dated. Principles that drove the newsroom in the early 1900s are quaint and irrelevant in the modern era. Thus I propose a modernized version to serve as a guidance to journalists in the 21st century.

Seek the Preferred Evidence and Report It

Ethical journalism should appear to be accurate and fair. Journalists should be diligent and unwavering in gathering, reporting, and interpreting information that supports the desired conclusions.

Journalists should:
  • Provide proper rationalizations if forced to admit that their work was inaccurate. If information can't be verified, release it anyway so the public can decide if it's accurate. If possible, report on other journalists' work, so any negative consequences of the reporting can be shifted onto them.
  • Remember inaccuracies can always be retracted in the lower margins of page 37B but there is no correction for being late to the story.
  • Provide context but only minimally and in the last paragraph or two of the story. Providing context in the headline or opening paragraphs reduces the emotional impact of the reporting and will diminish traffic.
  • Gather, update, and correct information throughout the story's 2- to 3-day window in the news cycle.
  • Assure readers that the sources are legitimate and trustworthy. Remember anyone who accuses you of dishonesty is literally attacking the freedom of the press.
  • Provide anonymity to any source so long as their testimony complements the Narrative. Explain to the reader that anonymity is a sacred facet of responsible journalism.
  • Seek subjects of news coverage to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing if you believe you can trick them into misspeaking on the record, adding heightened moral indignation to the emotional impact of your piece.
  • Use undercover or surreptitious methods of gathering information, particularly classified information leaked from anonymous government officials, to make it nearly impossible for the opposition to disprove it.
  • Be vigilant and courageous in promoting the establishment narrative, or risk losing insider access or even your high-status job in corporate media.
  • Support the open and civil exchange of views, except those being promoted by bigots.
  • Recognize a special privilege to regulate public perceptions and government access. It is your obligation to reciprocate that access by championing government efforts except when they conflict with the interests of your organization's corporate holders.
  • Remind readers that accessing source material is dangerous and even illegal without utilizing an intermediate corporate journalist for a proper interpretation of it.
  • Boldly promote diversity. (see also, the Narrative)
  • Avoid blatant stereotyping. Use innuendo and nuance wherever possible.
  • Blur any observable distinction between reporting, analysis, opinion, and promoted content.
  • Present facts, context, statistics, and visual data in a way that clearly and unambiguously portrays the conclusions you want them to reach.
  • Never plagiarize. Always reword the text to appear as if they were your own contributions.

Minimize Harm to the Narrative

Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human voters deserving of being influenced.

Journalists should:
  • Balance the public's need for information against the desire to influence opinion towards what is best for society. Remember journalism is a sacred task in democracy; all who hinder your noble work are treasonous.
  • Show compassion towards social victims as defined by the Narrative. Use heightened reverence when the subject is a Muslim, minority, woman, gay, transgender, etc. Consider cultural differences in approach. Always be very critical of whites because they are probably racist.
  • Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast, unless someone else ran with the story first or the subject is Donald Trump.
  • Realize that liberals have a greater right to control information about themselves than conservatives and other bigots who seek power, influence, or attention. Weigh the political consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.
  • Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, unless someone else breaks the story first.
  • Always try criminals in the court of public opinion first. The legal system is too slow and archaic to keep up with today's news pace. If someone convicted by the court of public opinion is later exonerated, remain calm and just let it get buried in the news cycle.
  • Do not hesitate to run with the desired headline. Even if wrong, you can always issue a correction in some filler section of the paper.

Act Collaboratively

The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to influence the public.

Journalists should:
  • Avoid conflicts of interest. Disclose unavoidable conflicts unless they are with the Democratic party or your organization is held by an international corporation.
  • It is okay to meet in secret with the establishment Democrats before they announce their campaign bids. No reasonable person would suspect foul play.
  • Most people do not need to be bribed for information when granting fifteen minutes of fame will do the trick.
  • Remember that your well-being depends on peddling ads for corporate sponsors.
  • Sponsored content is acceptable to fund the organization's ability to effectively promote the truth Narrative. If people can't tell the difference between real articles and sponsored content that is their fault.

Be Accountable and Transparentish

Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one's work and explaining one's decisions to the public if one is absolutely forced to.

Journalists should:
  • Assert that they are acting with the utmost journalistic integrity. Most readers won't know the difference anyway.
  • Shut down dissent as quickly as possible. Ridicule the meddler, question his motives, whatever it takes.
  • Acknowledge mistakes if it is unnavoidable and correct them eventually and discreetly. Be concise because you have better things to be doing.
  • Expose unethical conduct in journalism committed by non-corporate organizations that promote the wrong conclusions.
  • Don't expect high journalistic standards from competing corporate media outlets, lest you be held to the same high standard.

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