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5 Principles of Journalism Cheat Sheet by


The core principles of journalism set out below provide an excellent base for everyone who aspires to launch themselves into the public inform­ation sphere to show respon­sib­ility in how they use inform­ation. There are hundreds of codes of conduct, charters and statements made by media and profes­sional groups outlining the princi­ples, values and obliga­tions of the craft of journa­lism. Most focus on five common themes:

1.Truth and Accuracy

Journa­lists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journa­lism. We should always strive for accuracy, give all the relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked. When we cannot corrob­orate inform­ation we should say so.

2. Indepe­ndence

Journa­lists must be indepe­ndent voices; we should not act, formally or inform­ally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affili­ations, financial arrang­ements or other personal inform­ation that might constitute a conflict of interest.

3. Fairness and Impart­iality

Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. Object­ivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhuma­nity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confid­ence.

4. Humanity

Journa­lists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.

Five Core Principles of Journalism

5. Accoun­tab­ility

A sure sign of profes­sio­nalism and respon­sible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accoun­table. When we commit errors we must correct them and our expres­sions of regret must be sincere not cynical. We listen to the concerns of our audience. We may not change what readers write or say but we will always provide remedies when we are unfair.

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