for Journalists is
provided as a public service at no charge by the
Chicago Headline Club
Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
HAVE A QUESTION? PHONE 866-DILEMMA
The 501st call
to the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists reflected rampant
concerns these days in journalism over finances and their
impact on ethics.
The caller, a
Long Island broadcaster, said station management was
directing the news staff to give favorable “news’’ coverage
to local advertisers. The journalist wanted to know what to
do about it.
suspected that management was being unethical and was
considering the hazards of whistle-blowing or quitting the
ethicist took the call and pointed out that the Society of
Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics clearly states that
journalists should “deny favored treatment to advertisers
and special interests and resist their pressure to influence
encouraged the caller to contact the SPJ professional
chapter in New York City for help in getting the station’s
management to reconsider its unethical practice, and to
direct management’s attention to the SPJ Code of Ethics.
With more than 500 calls since it started in 2001, AdviceLine is a project of the Chicago Headline Club, where the AdviceLine ethicists who take the calls are trained.
reporter recently told AdviceLine that her managing editor
also asked for favorable stories about advertisers at a time
when revenue, circulation and advertising decline throughout
the industry. Such practices can harm media credibility,
which is won hard and lost easily.
seeking guidance to avoid such ethical pitfalls can call the
Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists at 866-DILEMMA, toll-free.
Most calls are answered within 24 hours.
Media credibility has never been more important as the
public watches cases involving ethics all across the
country. Chicago alone had two recently.
mogul Conrad Black, who once controlled a vast media empire,
was found guilty in U.S. District Court of fraud and
obstruction of justice.
reporter Amy Jacobson was fired for covering a story while
clad in a swimsuit at a pool party held by the family of a
missing person. Jacobson took her two children to the party.
person is top management or a street reporter, ethical
lapses can result in front page news, as in the cases of
Conrad Black and Amy Jacobson.
embarrassment and career-damaging events. When in doubt,
call the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists. Get answers on ethical practices in
journalism. Get it right the first
Submit Online or Call Toll Free 866-DILEMMA