A key purpose of journalism is to provide an adversarial check on those who wield the greatest power by shining a light on what they do in the dark, and informing the public about those acts.
A BC political journalist:
For sums paid to my agents at the National Speakers Bureau, you can engage my undivided attention and I will shine a light for you, enabling your organization to deal successfully with those who wield the greatest power. I won’t bother to inform the public about acts done in the dark.
From the Code of Ethics of the 106-year-old Society of Professional Journalists:
- Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
- Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.
- Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
- Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
- Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
- Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
An example of “civil dialogue” on CKNW by BC journalists:
An old favourite here: Still ROTFL.