Code of Ethics
Canons of Journalism
University of Tennessee Student Publications
The University of Tennessee Department of Student
Publications has adopted the Code of Ethics of the American Society of
Newspaper Editors as its guide to professional journalism. Although the
following statements pertain primarily to newspaper journalism, all
student publications will adhere to the principles stated in this Code
The right of a newspaper to attract and hold
readers is restricted by nothing but consideration of public welfare.
The use a newspaper makes of the share of public attention it gains
serves to determine its sense of responsibility, which it shares with
every members of its staff. A journalist who uses his or her power for
any selfish or otherwise unworthy purposes is faithless to a high trust.
II. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
Freedom of the press is to be guarded as a vital
right of mankind. It is an unquestionable right to discuss whatever is
not explicitly forbidden by law, including the wisdom of any
Freedom from all obligations except that of
fidelity to the public interest is vital.
1) Promotion of any private interest contrary to
the general welfare, for whatever reason, is not compatible with honest
journalism. So-called news communications from private sources should
not be published without public notice of their source or else
substantiation of their claims to value as news, both in form and
2) Partisanship, in editorial comment, which
knowingly departs from the truth, does violence to the best spirit of
American journalism; in the news columns it is subversive of a
fundamental principle of the profession.
IV. SINCERITY, TRUTHFULNESS, ACCURACY
Good faith with the reader is the foundation of
all journalism worthy of the name.
1) By every consideration of good faith a
newspaper is constrained to be truthful. It is not to be excused for
lack of thoroughness or accuracy within its control, or failure to
obtain command of these essential qualities.
2) Headlines should be fully warranted by the
contents of the articles which they surmount.
Sound practice makes clear distinction between
news reports and expressions of opinion. News reports should be free
from opinion or bias of any kind. This rule does not apply to so-called
special articles unmistakably devoted to advocacy or characterized by a
signature authorizing the writer's own conclusions and interpretation.
VI. FAIR PLAY
A newspaper should not publish unofficial charges
affecting reputation or moral character without opportunity given to
the accused to be heard: right practice demands the giving of such
opportunity in all cases of serious accusation outside judicial
1) A newspaper should not invade private rights
or feeling without sure warrant of public right as distinguished from
2) It is the privilege, as it is the duty, of a
newspaper to make prompt and complete correction of its own serious
mistakes of fact or opinion, whatever their origin.
A newspaper cannot escape conviction of
insincerity if, while professing high moral purpose, it supplies
incentives to base conduct, such as are to be found in details of crime
and vice, publication of which is not demonstrably for the general
good. Lacking the authority to enforce its canons the journalism here
represented can but express the hope that deliberate pandering to
vicious instincts will encounter effective public disapproval or yield
to the influence of a preponderant professional condemnation.