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Ethical Australian Journalists Guide


May 13, 2005

To defame or not to defame

If you have your doubts about what you can and can't say about people, then you need to check out the Journalist's Defamation Checklist, an interactive web tool designed for working journalists and students by journalism staff at Bond University. It's at Much of the detail has been taken from the second edition of Professor Mark Pearson's excellent The journalist's guide to media law. Dealing with legal and ethical issues, which Allen & Unwin published in 2004. Worth a look, even if you think you know the issues backwards.
Posted by belinda at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2005

Do the right thing

Should bloggers, who are not, strictly speaking, journalists, have a code of ethics? The American Press Institute thinks they should and has posted a sample code on their CyberJournalist site at It has three planks - be honest and fair (don't plagiarise or fail to link to original materials), minimise harm (be sensitive in how you handle news or make comments, respect people's privacy), be accountable (admit it when you get it wrong). Submissions of further additions to the code are welcome.
Posted by belinda at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2004


Rupert Murdoch's Fox News came in for some scathing criticism from Los Angeles Times editor John S. Carroll when he delivered the annual Ruhl Lecture at the University of Oregon. Blaming Fox News and some talk show hosts, Carroll cited a study from last year that showed many Americans had three major misconceptions about Iraq:
  • That weapons of mass destruction had been found
  • That a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq had been demonstrated
  • That the world approved of US intervention in Iraq
Eighty per cent of people who primarily got their news from Fox believed at least one of the misconceptions. Carroll said the figure was more than 57 percentage points higher than for people who got news from public broadcasting. "How in the world could Fox have left its listeners so deeply in the dark?" Carroll asked. He lamented that such people "are practicing something I call a pseudo-journalism, and they view their audience as something to be manipulated." The full story, which covers ethics, and the difference between news and propaganda, is at
Posted by belinda at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2003

Ethical minefields

A new journal, the Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society looks at the social implications of emerging technologies, from mobile Internet and wireless technologies to biotechnology and cybernetics. Gruesome piccies! It's at The first issue looks at E-Publishing Today, Genetic Paternity Testing, Lawful Interception of the Internet and Technology and Trust. The journal is published by the Australian Centre for Emerging Technologies and Society, Swinburne University of Technology (
Posted by belinda at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

Keeping them honest

The Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance, Griffith University has prepared a paper, "Ministerial staff: a need for transparency and accountability?" as a submission to the Senate inquiry into the staff of members of parliament. The paper's authors, Anne Tiernan and Patrick Weller, identify five problems, namely:
  • the system has outgrown the arrangements designed to support and control it
  • it is premised on a number of myths and assumptions that have become redundant as the staffing institution has evolved
  • the roles and responsibilities of ministerial staff and the public service are ill-defined, undermining the quality of advice and support to ministers
  • there is too little public information about the operations of the staffing system
  • the ministerial staffing system lacks transparency
The paper is in Microsoft Word and can be found at
Posted by belinda at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2003

The whole story

Partial quotes often irritate those quoted since journalists often truncate, over-simplify or alter the meaning of statements by quoting only selections of what was said, or quoting remarks out of context. This could be set to change as bloggers upload full transcripts of statements and speeches so readers can see the context. Mark Glaser has a a column on this topic. Feeling Misquoted? Weblogs, Transcripts Let the Reader Decide is at
Posted by belinda at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2003

Ethical questions - who's got answers?

Poynter's Ethics Journal has an interesting piece today called 10 questions and no answers. In light of the Jayson Blair scandal at the New York Times, Kelly McBride poses some useful questions about plagiarising and interview techniques that are relevant to anyone working in news. She asks: "Is it OK for radio disk jockeys to read the morning newspaper on the air if they don't attribute it? Is there a difference between plagiarizing your own clips and relying on the same phrases and descriptions over and over? When doing man-on-the-street stuff, should you ask for phone numbers? Addresses? How do you verify you really did the interview?"and so on. Read the full piece at And if anyone would like to comment on these or related issues, please feel free to leave a comment here.
Posted by belinda at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2003

Now it's legal to lie ...

From the Sierra Times at The story goes: "On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast." Thanks to Hugh Brown for the tip.
Posted by journoz at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)