‘The Seven Deadly Sins’

Ethical pitfalls that can lead to trouble … or termination

Kelly McBride, an instructor at The Poynter Institute, said that for a long time, American journalists have clung to their standards of ethics as if those standards were gold. While those ethical principles did serve as a guiding light for a journalist to follow, they fell a tad short on offering approaches that reflect this new era of journalism.

As we know, the Internet is the medium of choice for this generation. Most people under 40 get their news from anyplace other than the daily newspaper. They follow bloggers who may or may not have credibility, and they follow respected websites that, because of the be-first philosophies of the time, don’t necessarily put accuracy over speed.

That approach presents unsettling problems for old-school journalists, who have remained wedded to what they’ve learned in their yesteryear. Perhaps their standards are ones we should return to, but to do that, we must first understand what are the ethical problems that an aspiring journalist faces.

Here’s a document from Tim Harrower’s textbook “Inside Reporting.” Harrower describes the journalistic mistakes as “deadly sins,” and they are. To understand them should keep each of you from destroying your careers through committing sins of this sort.

Seven Deadly Sins


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