by The Army Times
Journalists are entrusted with a special responsibility to report the news fairly and honestly, untainted by personal bias or outside influence. Uncompromised objectivity is essential if any publication is to retain the respect and appreciation of its readers.
Army Times Publishing Co. is committed to the highest level of individual and corporate integrity in news gathering, production and distribution.
Our "code of conduct" includes:
Common sense. The guiding principle in all that we do should rest on our own good judgment. Good journalists have an innate sense of what is right and wrong. That talent is helpful in crafting news stories and a good guide in dealing with sources, readers and fellow workers on a day-to-day basis.
Honesty. Ours is an honorable profession. While journalists are sometimes given special consideration and access to do their jobs, they should never assume they are above the law. The same rules and regulations that govern the conduct of average citizens apply to those with a note pad or a tape recorder. Lying, stealing and posing as something you are not, even for the sake of a good story, must not be tolerated. Sacrificing honor for a story is ill-gotten gain.
Impartiality. Journalism is a great equalizer. It is one of the few professions where you can deal with the least and the greatest in society. All people deserve equal respect and consideration when gathering and reporting the news. Stories should never be slanted to pander to one segment of the population or special interest group, nor should stories indulge your feelings toward or against a person or group.
The Golden Rule. Sometimes what we report and write about individuals can have a devastating effect on them and their loved ones. We must remember that, and not inflict harm on anyone carelessly, gratuitously or maliciously. We don't do gossip.
Caution. Accepting gifts and freebies can lead to entangling alliances. Such offerings, no matter how sincerely meant, can leave both the gift-giver and recipient with a feeling of obligation. The employee handbook spells out the company's specific rule regarding gifts. For editorial personnel, add this rule of thumb: avoid accepting items of significant value and special privileges not available to the general public.
Propriety. Conflict of interest, or even the appearance of such, can stymie a journalist's credibility and limit effectiveness. Involvement in social organizations, business ventures and political events which could compromise our standing with readers ought to be avoided. Readers want to believe that our reporters and editors can remain objective. Participation in functions outside the profession should be avoided if they cast a shadow of impropriety; if they allow advocates or critics to accuse you, or us, of bias.
Employees of Army Times Publishing Co. are assumed to be honest individuals, dedicated to the highest ideals of the profession. This code of conduct is not meant to be a list of hard and fast rules, governing all aspects of ethics in journalism or conduct as an employee. (The company handbook does list some specific do's and do not's.) Instead, it should be a guide whereby employees can safeguard their integrity, and that of the company, through the exercise of prudent professional judgment. If you have doubts about a specific situation, ask. A good question is: would I be proud of myself, and would my bosses understand and be supportive, if the facts of this case were laid out in a journalism review, in the media column of the Washington Post, or in the pages of my own publication?