The Seven Canons of Journalism

In 1923 the seven canons of journalism were founded by the American Society of Newspaper Editors as a way to respond to the overwhelming amount of sensationalism occurring at the time. This sensationalism was occurring mostly in tabloids which in turn were making a bad name for the print industry by putting their focus on novelty and strange stories. They sold “news” but no facts were being told which became problem because people were more interested in entertainment as opposed to actual events occurring in the nation. So naturally something had to be done. These seven canons include Responsibility, freedom of the press, independence, sincerity, truthfulness, and accuracy, impartiality, fair play, and lastly decency. These canons form something like an ethical code for journalists and they wish that journalists abide by them. These canons are still very much in effect to this day.

The first canon mentioned is responsibility which essentially states that journalist should always consider the public’s general welfare. Your job is to deliver news not cause people to go into a panic or put them in any sort of harm’s way with your story. The second canon is freedom of press, one of the most important rights to not just journalists but everyone. The first amendment allows our rights to be guarded as vital and unquestionable. Overall this offers the people protection. The third canon is independence. This canon allows that journalists are free to publish and report stories that are independent from sources, politics and advertisers. The independence they receive is essential because the information delivered isn’t bought. Next are sincerity, truthfulness, and accuracy. Together these qualities form the foundation of all journalism. These are qualities that the general public respects and expect from those reporting information that affects people’s lives.

Impartiality is the canon that states news reports should be free from any opinion or bias of any kind. Whether it’s the reporters or someone they are interviewing, you are there to deliver the facts only. Next up is fair play, which focuses on how opposing views should be solicited on public issues and accusations. Papers should be published prompt and complete and if there are mistakes they are to be corrected. Lastly we have decency which states that papers should avoid “deliberate” pandering to “vicious instincts” such as details of crime and vice. People enjoy details but keep it classy, most of the time certain details are personal and shouldn’t be mentioned. Crime and vices shouldn’t be glorified.