By Ashley Day, Editor-in-Chief–
As a communication student and Editor-in-Chief of the University Echo, I have taken several classes including media writing, communication law and ethics, photojournalism, and more that have taught me the basics of reporting ethics. I have attended conferences and seminars which brought in professionals from the communication field to discuss ethical principles that all journalists should abide by in order to remain credible.
These ethical standards- mostly common sense- have given me guidelines for how to report in the most accurate, fair and honest way possible. The ethical code we reference most within our newsroom at the Echo is the SPJ Code of Ethics, which can be found here.
The code highlights many factors of reporting that we abide by in our own guidelines, such as talking to original sources, allowing subjects of stories to comment on any allegations, and supporting an open discussion of different perspectives, even ones we don’t personally agree with.
As a staff, we work very hard to ensure that all of our reporting adheres to these general guidelines. Each section editor works with their writers to make sure that all of our content is as fair, truthful and unbiased as possible.
This does not mean we avoid writing about any topics we deem controversial. Instead, we attempt to cover the issues that affect our community as fully as possible. This means we attempt to contact students and officials who hold differing viewpoints on a topic as well as experts who can provide insight.
Our goal is to inform readers about issues and events so that our audience can make their own opinions about topics based on facts.
With today’s technology, anyone can create a website or blog and claim that they are a journalist. Anyone with a phone can record the world around them, the way they see it and instantly share it. These people and their insights are not to be devalued or disrespected. I believe this technology gives us the power to connect with others who have different backgrounds than us.
However, I do urge audiences to critically evaluate the media they consume, and really think about whether the author has told the whole truth, using credible sources and information.
As journalists, we try to give voices to members of campus and the community who wouldn’t otherwise be heard. We make an effort to cover the stories that will make a positive impact on the community.
It is important to us to have a diverse staff, so that we can provide the fullest view of the community for our readers. We try to build our staff of editors and writers with students from different campus organizations, grade levels, majors, religious backgrounds, political ideologies, races and genders. As with most organizations, we can always use improvement in that area to allow us to more fully represent the campus demographics.
That being said, we are far from perfect. We get new writers and editors every semester, and we are always learning. As our viewers, I believe it is your job to hold us accountable for our own mistakes. I encourage you to become familiar with these ethical guidelines and hold us to them. You are always welcome to reach out to us and express any concerns you may have, whether it is through comments on articles, tweets, or by letters to the editor, which can be emailed to us. If there is something going on in the community that you think we should be covering, please let us know.