Author Archives: SPJ

On May 5, the World Health Organization ended the emergency status for COVID-19 and the United States COVID-19 health emergency will end on Thursday. While navigating this “post-pandemic” era, it is important to continue to take care in reporting on COVID-19. Ensure you are using clear language when explaining these updates. Ending the emergency status does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global threat. Continue to follow the SPJ Code of Ethics to seek the truth and report

Six people, including three children, were killed in a shooting at Covenant School in Nashville on Monday morning. News organizations have adopted the best practices when reporting on mass shootings to avoid misinformation and pandering to lurid curiosity. However, as Poynter notes, some coverage has focused on details about the shooter that draw away from accurate reporting. Journalists covering the shooting should follow the SPJ Code of Ethics. They must balance the public’s need for information against potential

Newsrooms are debating whether objectivity should still be the standard for news reporting. Recently, Leonard Downie Jr. wrote an opinion piece on objectivity for The Washington Post. Downie argues that moving past objectivity can create more diversity in newsrooms. The piece has sparked a lot of responses from different news organizations, but the question remains: is objectivity outdated and what can newsrooms do about it? “True objectivity is a fallacy that overlooks more important standards, like fairness and truth,” SPJ

More news outlets are using artificial intelligence to write or supplement stories. Recently, Futurism reported CNET had been quietly publishing articles generated by an unspecified “AI engine” without noting they were bot-written. The news sparked outrage and discussion about the ethics and impact of using AI. “While there is no need for a ban on artificial intelligence in journalism, its use is best limited and considered on a case-by-case basis,” said SPJ National President Claire Regan. “AI, for example,

When Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills suffered cardiac arrest on the field during the Monday Night Football broadcast on Jan. 2, it put ESPN at the center of a major breaking news story, as those watching on TV and at Paycor Stadium wondered if Hamlin would be OK. ESPN’s coverage was cautious. It aired few replays, offered very little speculation about Hamlin’s health and only relayed what reporters knew. Scott Van Pelt, who was anchoring SportsCenter, told the Associated

During the major cold snap that engulfed most of the country during the holiday season, Bryce Dole, a reporter for the Bulletin in Bend, Oregon, was covering how it impacted a homeless encampment, when he and photographer Dean Guernsey met Shellie Macvane and were concerned about her wellbeing. “It didn’t take a doctor to discern that Macvane was in bad shape,” Dole wrote. “Her tent was paper thin and she did not have the proper clothes for the frigid

In November, ProPublica and THE CITY published a story about  three New York City teenagers who struggled to get mental health services that the city’s public schools are legally obligated to provide. The teens in the story were granted anonymity. The SPJ Code of Ethics says journalists should “identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.” However, when writing about minors and sensitive subjects like mental health,

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in more than a dozen Chinese cities, raising blank white papers to demand freedom of speech and the end of COVID-19 lockdowns. The media have covered the protests with live photos and videos that have shown the protesters’ faces. “While we understand the journalistic responsibility to document what happens in public spaces, we’re concerned that those photos may create openings for retaliation, from doxxing and professional consequences to persecution by police.

A report from the Associated Press, citing an anonymous senior U.S. intelligence official, raised international alarms last week. It incorrectly stated that a missile from Russia meant for Ukraine hit a town in Poland, however the missile was from Ukraine. The AP was the first outlet outside of Poland to report on the strike. The SPJ Code of Ethics states that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy. The AP issued a correction within the day. The Code says, journalists

NPR’s Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg holds an accolade that is a rarity in journalism – covering one beat for multiple decades. However, some have raised concerns about her friendship with the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the subject of Totenberg’s most recent book), and the impact it has on Totenberg’s ability to report on the Court and other legal issues. The SPJ Code of Ethics says journalists should act independently and “avoid conflicts of interest, real or

Abide by the same high standards you expect of others.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a letter from former President Donald Trump that contained debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. The New York Times last year published a column from U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton that misstated some facts. The Times posted a lengthy note to the column stating it did not meet its standards. How should news organizations treat opinion submissions that contain factual errors?