Newsroom Ethics Code

“We believe that the manner in which we accomplish our work is as important as the work itself.”

For The AJC, this statement from Cox Enterprises resonates with special force. As journalists, we must earn the trust of our audience every day. Our professional integrity is the cornerstone of our credibility. Fairness and transparency must always be the hallmarks of The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s journalism.

The principles set forth below define the ethical standards that the news personnel must strive to attain.

1. WE SEEK THE TRUTH AND OPERATE TRANSPARENTLY.

Our journalistic endeavors are built on a search for truth. That means we must consistently strive to adhere to the highest standards of truthfulness. In our news reports, we do not lie; we do not fabricate, and we do not distort images or audio in a manner that is misleading. We report the news accurately and as completely as possible. We are transparent about our values and our newsgathering methods. We admit our errors and correct them.

2. WE SERVE THE PUBLIC INTEREST.

In pursuing the truth, our journalism advances the “ultimate good” of the communities that we serve. To best achieve this result, we have a responsibility to function as a watchdog on government and other institutions and to seek solutions to problems in our communities. We provide information that allows our audiences to be effective citizens and enables them to improve their lives. We provide a forum for discussion and allow a diverse mix of voices to be heard. We defend the rights of a free and independent press on behalf of our audiences.

3. WE OPERATE WITH INDEPENDENCE.

We avoid relationships that could cause our audience to question our integrity or credibility. We avoid conflicts of interest and obligations to those who seek to influence the news, and we disclose those conflicts that are not avoidable. We make news decisions independently, without outside influence. We do not accept gifts, favors or compensation from those whom we cover.

4. WE RESPECT THE LAW AND TREAT OTHERS RESPECTFULLY.

We understand the power of our role and seek to minimize harm. In our news gathering and reporting, we respect the law. We also recognize that our work may cause distress and discomfort to the subjects of news stories. We treat such persons with respect and dignity. We also treat competitors professionally. We do not plagiarize. We do not obstruct the reporting of others. Where appropriate, we give attribution.

5. WE ACKNOWLEDGE A RESPONSIBILITY TO SEEK OUT GUIDANCE TO DO THE RIGHT THING.

No code of ethics can cover every circumstance. We acknowledge it is the responsibility of each of us to seek guidance when there are questions about how to best uphold our values and protect our credibility.

This Code embodies the standards of journalistic conduct applicable in our newsroom. Consistent compliance with this Code of Ethics is essential to preserving the reputation of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a credible and trustworthy source of news.

In Other News