Q&A: Journalism ethics

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The following question came from a Lake County attorney:

Question: Are Indiana newspapers required to follow state standards or an ethical code concerning their behavior?

Answer: Freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment would prevent any state-imposed ethical code on newspapers, but reporters, editors and newspapers apply ethical standards, either of their own creation or perhaps the Code of Ethics approved by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Nonethical behavior is self-defeating because it would damage the integrity of the individual and the newspaper.

Since credibility is a newspaper’s foundation, actions to the contrary would lead to loss of circulation and then loss of advertising revenue.

Have a media law question for Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel? Contact him at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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