Ethical Journalism and Unionism

Originally published by Guild Forum, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, ILCA Member
By David Swanson, ILCA Media Coordinator, WBNG Member
Summer 2004

Journalistic ethics have become in many ways corporate ethics. When those ethics penetrate journalists’ unions the result is, therefore, self-destructive.

The central ethic of journalism today is balance. It is more important to include two opposing points of view than to investigate whether either of them is supported by facts or whether there is a third point of view being left out, or whether the topic is important at all, or whether your reporting is building up or tearing down our democracy. As long as you’ve got balance, you’re ethical.

There are those who cynically employ this ethic to produce journalism that many of us recognize as degraded and degrading. There are others who treat it seriously with the best of intentions. It is, in every case, the ethic of a corporate agenda, because

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