Honesty In Journalism

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By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists

Is honesty still important in journalism?

Judging from calls to the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists, some journalists are not certain about that.

One journalist asked if it’s okay to lie to get a story. Another journalist asked if it’s okay to question people without telling them that you’re a reporter and their remarks will be reported or in print.

A Los Angeles online reporter said he promised a police officer that the reporter would not tell his editor about information the officer gave. Then the reporter wanted to know how to explain that to his editor. Is that a promise he should keep, and was it a promise the reporter was entitled to make?


The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists was founded in 2001 by the Chicago Headline Club (Chicago Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists) and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It partnered with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2013. It is a free service.

Professional Journalists are invited to contact the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists for guidance on ethics. Call 866-DILEMMA or ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org.

Visit the Ethics AdviceLine blog for more.