Why ethical codes matter: journalism database paves the way for accountability.

Author:Young, Adreana
Position:Accountable Journalism

In 2002, the largest collection of press codes of conduct in the world was donated to University of Missouri by French journalist Claude-Jean Bertrand. Fast-forward to 2015, where the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Ethical Journalism have revamped the website at accountablejournalism.org.

According to Randy Pichtr, RJI executive director, so far, RJI and EJN have put together 769 entries that include codes of ethics, Press Council guidelines and related documents from 250 countries around the globe.

Using the database is simple. Just type a word into the search bar and codes relating to the word will come up.

While the mechanics of the website may be easy to use, Pichtr and Aidan White, director of EJN, agree Accountable Journalism is an important website to have in today's overpowering media landscape.

"In the world of open information, when we are overwhelmed by information on all sides, and when much of that information is unreliable and sometimes toxic, we think that ethical journalism is essential to help people get access to information they can trust," White said.

He continued, "When you see how the public information landscape is being swamped by political propaganda, corporate spin and the often abusive communications through social networks, there is clearly a crisis of quality in public discourse. We believe ethical journalism is necessary to counter this drift towards unreliability. We need to build trust in public information and we think self-restraint through voluntary codes of ethics are an important tool to help us in that task."


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