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Balance and objectivity

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sprclogoFoundations_mainEthical guidelines
Journalists should prioritize balance and objectivity as a staff philosophy and content standard. Staff members can help achieve this by increasing staff diversity and seeking multiple perspectives. Balance suggests a concern for issues surrounding the content of the story, types of sources and overall content student media covers in the span of a year. Likewise, objectivity exists on both the micro and macro levels.

Staff manual process
Editors should engage staff members in ongoing discussions about balance and objectivity, including their definitions and impact on the publication. These discussions should be applied at every level of the publication process, from selecting staff, to generating story ideas, to reporting and writing, and to the visual content creation and photography.

Suggestions
• Staff members should discuss and come to consensus on what both “balance” and “objectivity” will look like. How will the staff measure these goals? What does success in this area look like?
• Keeping tabs on how different members of the student body respond to both the content and news gathering process of student media is important, as responses may be an early warning sign balance and objectivity are out of whack.
• Students should explore and consider what standards professionals use to measure balance and objectivity with consideration to how those standards might work on their own staff.
• A guideline for clearly labeling opinion content so consumers can separate objective from subjective content also aids in maintaining balance and objectivity.

Resources
The Next Journalism’s Objective Reporting, Nieman Reports
The Lost Meaning of ‘Objectivity’, American Press Institute
Tools to Manage Bias, American Press Institute
Principles of Journalism, Pew Research Center
Think Like A Journalist, News Trust
Lesson: With Freedom of the Press Comes Great Responsibility, Journalism Education Association
Balance and Objectivity, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

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