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Rethinking news values

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We all emphasize the aspect of news values in our journalism programs: timeliness, conflict, consequence, proximity and more.

Perhaps it is also time to update those values with a list of ethical news values for our scholastic media programs.

The original news values, for the most part, say authors Philip Patterson and Lee Wilkins in their text, “Media Ethics,” do not help students decide how to report news ethically.

The authors suggest the following concepts, excellent for starting a healthy discussion of how scholastic media might encompass rethinking, revitalizing and repurposing multi-platform reporting.

Accuracy: Using the correct facts and the right words and putting things in context. Journalists need to be as independent as they can when framing stories.

Tenacity: Knowing when a story is important enough to require additional effort, both personal and institutional. Tenacity drives journalists to provide all the depth they can.

Dignity: Leaving the subject of a story as much self-respect as possible. Dignity values each person regardless of the story or the role the individual plays.

Reciprocity: Treating others as you wish to be treated. Reciprocity recognizes that journalists and their viewers and readers are partners in discovering what is important  and getting information from that.

Sufficiency: Allocating adequate resources to important issues. Individually, it can mean thoroughness. Organizationally, it means allocating adequate resources to newsgathering.

Equity: Seeking justice for all involved in controversial issues and treating all sources and subjects equally. Equity demands all viewpoints be considered but not all framed as equally compelling.

Community: Valuing social cohesion. It means reporters and editors evaluate stories with an eye first to social good.

Diversity: Covering all segments of the audience fairly and adequately. Giving all segments a chance to be heard.

After all, within each of these tenets we have beginning points for action plans that could lead to the removal of prior review and restraint and to launch into discussions of truth v. loyalty and other ethically important concepts that could revitalize scholastic journalism.

And those are important plans and discussions we need to have.

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