Journalism Ethics Training

About this Lesson

Ryan J. Thomas, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
Journalism Studies,
Missouri School of Journalism,
University of Missouri

Journalists make important decisions every day of their professional careers. How do they make those decisions? How should they make those decisions? These are the things that ethics is concerned with – how we make choices when faced with an ethical dilemma. This module explores some of the issues relevant to journalism ethics, and outlines a nine-step process for journalistic decision-making.

What you will learn

After completing this unit, you should have a basic understanding of:

  • What a “true” ethical dilemma is
  • The difference between ethics and law
  • Different approaches to ethical decision-making
  • How to make journalistic decisions about ethics based on consideration of duties

How the lesson works

First of all, this is an asynchronous lesson unit, which means no live events are scheduled for this lesson. You can complete learning activities at your own pace whenever is convenient for you. Despite the asynchronous nature, the learning tasks are organized to help you succeed.

To be successful in this unit, please complete the following tasks:

• Watch the lecture.
• Take the quiz to test your own understanding.  This will help you to strengthen the concepts you just learned.
Optional: Due to the amount of content to be covered in a single unit, we encourage you read these additional resources. Some of the quiz questions might come from the readings in Additional Resources section.

Watch the Lecture



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Take the Quiz


Direction: Some of the questions might from the readings in Additional Resources below


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Lesson Resources

Lecture Script: Download it here

Printable Quiz: Journalism Ethics

ASNE Classroom Resources

Lessons: Journalism Ethics

Additional Resources

Kristen Hare, Poynter: “ONA debuts a Build Your Own Ethics Code platform

Online News Association (ONA), “Build Your Own Ethics Code” project

Society of Professional Journalists: “SPJ Code of Ethics

Society of Professional Journalists: “Other Codes of Ethics

National Scholastic Press Association: “Model Code of Ethics for High School Journalists

Randy Swinkle, ASNE’s Youth Journalism Initiative: “Sticky Ethics Scenarios Journalists Face

Maggie Cogar: “Teaching Journalism Ethics: A Resource for Scholastic Media Advisers

John Bowen, Quill & Scroll: “Online Ethics Guidelines for Student Media

Dani Kass, Student Press Law Center: “Protections Inconsistent for Student Journalists Who Withhold Names of Sources

Allison Gens, Media Ethics and Society: “Avoiding Conflicts of Interest as a Student Journalist

John Long, National Press Photographers Association: “Potter Box Teaches Loyalty

Kelly McBride and Tom Rosenstiel, Poynter: “Truth & Trust in Media Ethics

Ethics case studies resources for teaching ethics through case studies are available through:


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