A Letter from the Director

Welcome to ethicsandjournalism.org, the website of NYU’s new Ethics & Journalism Initiative. 

Here you’ll find newsroom ethics codes, AI guidelines, a compendium of best practices, topical discussions, and the most useful ethics articles and papers that we can produce or collect. The goal is to help journalists, whether experienced or just starting out, to become more sure-footed in tackling the complex ethical issues that we all face in our work.

Stephen J. Adler, Director of EJI

With staunch support from NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, we launched EJI just last fall, recognizing the urgency of such an effort. For one thing, journalists now receive less legal, financial and professional support from their newsrooms than they did when the industry was healthier. For another, we are working in a more polarized and distrustful environment than in the past, with lies, disinformation, and anti-press sentiment creating challenges and, at times, physical dangers. Plus, artificial intelligence is confronting us with fresh challenges as we grapple with how to use powerful new tools without sacrificing accuracy or integrity.

Ethics is, of course, a complicated subject: Personal values often matter as much as a news organization’s ethics code, the right answer in any specific situation can be frustratingly elusive and the consequences of bad choices can be grave. That’s why we decided to offer help in a variety of ways, not just through this website but through individual mentoring, student workshops, training materials, and public conversations. Moreover, we are collaborating with newsrooms and other academic institutions to expand our reach. 

The idea is to ensure that every student and journalist we reach learns to recognize ethical issues when they arise and to confront them with skill, humanity, and intelligence. 

We do this work with the generous financial support of NYU and outside donors.

By taking a leadership role in advancing ethical standards and practices, we naturally also hope to foster more trustworthy journalism in the public interest and thus to improve the credibility and standing of our profession. Of course, we recognize that people inside and outside the media hold a wide range of perspectives on what constitutes ethical journalism. So, to be transparent about our principles, we are sharing them here:

Statement of Journalistic Values

  1.     Honest fact-finding, regardless of where the facts lead.
  2.     Skepticism without cynicism.
  3.     A commitment to challenging false statements and narratives, wherever they arise. 
  4.     A commitment to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in the practice of journalism.
  5.     A conviction that journalists play a vital role in democracy by holding governments and other powerful institutions to account.
  6.     A refusal to back down when work is accurate; an eagerness to correct when it is wrong.

Guided by these principles, our small team is excited about reaching out to the journalism community through this website and through our upcoming events, which will be announced here and on social media. We hope you’ll use the site and will participate in the events that interest you. And, please, share with us your thoughts about our programming or about ethical issues we should be addressing. 

You can reach me at sja9857@nyu.edu. My colleagues Karen Pensiero and Ryan Howzell can be reached at kmpensiero@gmail.com and ryan.howzell@nyu.edu.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you and to working with you.

Stephen J. Adler, Director of the Ethics & Journalism Initiative