While reading SPJ's code of ethics, one sentence spoke out to me the most and it was, "give voice to the voiceless." This sentence came from SPJ's first principle: Seek the truth and report it.
This sentence stuck out to me the most because I think it perfectly sums up our number one job as journalists and professional communicators. Our job is to provide our audiences with the information they need to know.
Simply put by SPJ, our one goal is to seek the truth and report it. Giving a voice to those who otherwise would not have a voice is our way of holding people accountable.
As journalists, we must take the seriousness of our job very seriously. We have an outlet unlike any other to share information. We cannot take that for granted. We are doing an injustice to the public if we do not conduct ourselves in the most honest and professional way.
Journalism is a way to expose the truth, but SPJ's second principle is to minimize harm. At what point do we stop being truthful in order to prevent doing any harm to someone? Could we possibly do harm to someone by giving them a voice that might be dangerous to be heard?
I think finding that balance is a test of your ethics as a journalist. Give a voice to the voiceless, but do not do harm to someone because we owe subjects of our stories the utmost respect.
Authenticity and Respect
Respect is key to ethical decisions. We, as journalists, are to be respectful of ourselves, of our organization, our readers and our sources. If we respect ourselves as journalists and the work that we do, ethical decisions may be a little easier because we respect our work.