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Lesson | 60 Minutes

Journalism Ethics


Students will explore, engage and develop a thorough understanding of the components and ethics related to journalism. Click on the Activities Tab to complete the lesson.

Central Questions

  • What are ethics?
  • What are journalism ethics?
  • What are all the ethical things you have to think about before, during, and after news reporting?

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn the fundamentals of journalism ethics so they can report the news ethically
  • Students will be able to apply their understanding of journalism ethics to news reporting
  • Students will understand that journalism ethics are fundamental to trust in news reporting and the health of a democracy
  • Career readiness: different professions have codes of ethics that are important to understand and put into practice, especially as they relate to character, honesty, and accountability

When Would You Use This Lesson?

  • In a media literacy lesson about journalism ethics and trust
  • In preparation for student reporting projects to understand the core principles of journalism
  • To discuss a recent media controversy through an ethical lens

Media Literacy Connection

Students consider why journalism ethics exist and can start to analyze different news stories to determine how (and whether) journalism ethics are applied. Students understand the news and its purpose.

Civics Connection

Students learn about the implications of journalism ethics in news reporting and begin to understand how trust works, how journalists develop relationships with sources, and the importance of holding public officials, decision-makers, and people with power accountable.


A set of moral principles based on standards of right and wrong, usually in terms of obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues.

Source: Markkula Center for Applied Ethics


Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information.

Source: American Press institute

Journalism Ethics

Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity. Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Source: Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics


Belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.

Source: Merriam Webster


Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

Source: Lexico, Powered by Oxford


An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.

Source: Merriam Webster


When violence strikes or when people argue about actions, events, ideas or policies, we care. Conflict and controversy attract our attention by highlighting problems or differences within the community or between groups. Sometimes conflict can be subtle and manifest as tension.

Writing - Research to Build and Present Knowledge

Analyze the lifestyle implications and physical demands required in the arts, audio/visual technology and communications workplace.

Empowered Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. (ISTE)

Digital Citizenship

Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical. (ISTE)

Knowledge Constructor

Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others. (ISTE)

Analyze the legal and ethical responsibilities required in the arts, audio/visual technology and communications workplace.

Creative Communicator

Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. (ISTE)

Reading - Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Speaking and Listening - Comprehension and Collaboration

Language - Knowledge of Language




Media Literacy






White board, chalkboard or other visual board


Online Worksheet



Estimated Time

60 Minutes