SPJ and Ethical News Values

When looking at the Ethical News Values and SPJ Code of ethics I’d like to talk about accuracy confirmation, equity, and diversity. Ethical News Values and SPJ Code of Ethics, both have great guidelines, however, I’m not sure if either of them can be completely followed journalism profession. Perhaps individuals can be disciplined enough to adhere to high standards, but I think from what we already know about practices in journalism, guidelines are broken every day and they are very difficult to follow. I don’t think combing the SPJ with Ethical New Values would fix that issue. With that being said, ethical standards are important whether they are followed. So I think the SPJ is a great place to start because it speaks more so to the day to day duties of journalist and supports its standards with many examples. It’s more of a living document and would be even better to put an emphasis on diversity and equity. I think these two are especially important in the digital space as increased diverse audiences have access to news.


Accuracy: I picked accuracy and a useful value because getting the facts and the context correct should be one of the main focuses of journalism. After all, their duty is to inform the public with the correct facts and context. However, I think accuracy is very difficult to accomplish these days when news organizations are competing for audience engagement online and there is less staff actually out there in the field. Many journalists piggyback off of the next journalist, many times without verifying information resulting in faulty reporting. 


Equity and Diversity: Ethical News Values and SPJ both incorporate diversity in some compacity, however, equity is only present in Ethical News Values. To me, these two go hand in hand. Ethical News Values describes equity as:

Seeking justice for all involved in controversial issues…all points of views be considered but does demand that all side be framed as equally compelling (Patterson & Wilkins, p.36, para.1).

SPJ Codes of ethics characterizes diversity as boldly telling the story of diversity, the magnitude of diversity, and seeking voices we seldom hear (SPJ, 2014, para. 17).

Ethical News Values also describes diversity as “covering all segments of the audience fairly and adequately,” and journalist “learning to ‘think diversity’ regardless of their individual heritages.


I argue that equity and diversity are impossible if the staff employed by mainstream media does not represent the population it serves. Organizations can’t view the world from nuanced perspectives if, for example, the majority is white-males who come from the same background (Coombs &Holladay, 2012). In order to “think diversity,” there needs to be diversity. If diversity is minimal so is equity. Though there is been made room for more non-white participants as a whole, in 1968, fewer that 5% of blacks were employed in journalism, forty-seven years later that number is the same (Williams, 2015).

Confirmation: I didn’t think that confirmation was a useful value, because what is published is not going to please everyone. If a reporter does their due diligence in following the other applicable guidelines related to the gathering and reporting of the story then they’ve done a good job.


Coombs.T. W., Holladay, S. J (2012) The handbook of crisis communication. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Malden, MA

Patterson, P., Wilkins, L. (2014) Media Ethics: Issues and cases 8th (ed). New York, NY:McGraw-Hill

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (2014, September 6). Society of Professional Journalist. Retrieved from http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Williams, A.T (2015, July 22 ) Why aren’t there more minority journalists?http://www.cjr.org/analysis/minority_journalists_newsrooms.php


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