Personal Ethics Guidelines — Updated

“The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.” — Aristotle

After analyzing the varying ethical guidelines for journalism prescribed by news organizations, I’ve decided to structure my own ethical guidelines on Aristotle’s Golden Mean Doctrine. The philosophy behind the Golden Mean Doctrine relies on avoiding extremes by finding a middle ground.

The Liberty Fund was very useful in providing an easy to read version of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics as translated by F.H. Peters.

The concept can be broken down with one quote, “So virtue is a purposive disposition, lying in a mean that is relative to us and determined by a rational principle, by that which a prudent man would use to determine it.” Within this quote, Aristotle suggests that we analyze our ethical dilemmas with prudence and caution. Rather than jumping to conclusions and bouncing to an extreme, we should take the time and care to evaluate the situation at hand. Every ethical dilemma must be handled with dutiful care. We must adjust ourselves to every dilemma we are dealt and find a middle ground.

It’s a reasonable approach. It’s simply taking any dilemma and deconstructing it for perspective. In a way, when applied the Golden Mean Doctrine is more a lifestyle. It’s moderation in its truest form. I have always believed that anything done in excess is an indication of a problem. This can apply to anything in life — if you smoke too much, if you eat too much or too less.

In Journalism, we are asked to deliver the news. And for anything to be news, it must be factual. To be factual, it must be accurate. The word ‘transparency’ is so often used because it is necessary in delivering factual information. Think for a moment about your own personal experiences in life, and don’t worry – you don’t have to delve deep. Pretend a friend has just discouraged you to buy an item. What would it take for you to take their word? Do you believe them because they are reliable, trustworthy, fair? You need to be able to trust the ones giving you the information.

When it comes to the news, the audience wants to know they are being delivered the truth from a reliable, fair source. Journalism is not in the business of creating rumors, rather it is the art of delivering the facts.

Key Principles

Fairness — 

I strive to analyze ethical dilemmas from every possible angle, by challenging every perspective. This means avoiding jumping to conclusions, and sometimes playing devil’s advocate. Throughout my life, I have always tried my best to remain balanced in my decision-making. Whenever friends would approach me with their own problems, I would always remind them to take a moment and step back from their issue to analyze any opposing views. There will always be two sides to every story, and my aim is to try my best to hear every side.

Truth and Integrity — 

To quote Shakespeare, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” Being honest and truthful is one of the most important values I can think of. I want to write with honesty and integrity. I want to write stories that need to be told, I want to write about the situations that are not written about enough. But for anyone to trust in my work, I must be credible. I strive to tell the truth, and to always be truthful.

Transparency — 

I will always be accountable for my work. While I know and believe that everyone has their own biases, I strive to be more than that. I do not want to hide from an audience, I want to be open about who I am and what I represent. I want to be fair to my audience by being truthful and accountable. I will always strive to correct my errors and I will always strive to be even-handed when writing a story, whatever the topic may be.

My ethical guidelines rely on the Golden Mean Doctrine because, I believe, when it comes to journalism and all things in life, we must be practical and reasonable. We must exercise moderation and caution when making decisions. We cannot jump to conclusions, we cannot make assumptions. In the end, we are nothing without our facts.


One thought on “Personal Ethics Guidelines — Updated

  1. I was hoping you’d develop the concept of making choices as a key journalistic task, Kareta, as suggested in the first draft of your guidelines. But this is a good set of guidelines, and they seem to work well with a foundation of the Golden Mean.


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