Ethics is an always relevant topic for environment journalists, as being a good one means maintaining one’s integrity. Environmental journalists need to have an undying commitment to the truth and factually accurate reporting. As an environmental journalist, you are likely to write about issues that are negatively impacted by powerful figures such as large corporations or manufacturers. You may receive pushback from these figures, who don’t want you publishing articles which portray them in what they see as a negative light.
In order to be ethical as an environmental journalist, you need to make sure each sentence speaks the truth. Speaking the truth doesn’t just mean you avoid putting false information in your story. It also means you are direct and honest with your readers. You also need to make sure you cover stories that are important, even if it may potentially upset people. If you learn of a health hazard linked to a particular type of meat that has gone unreported, it is your duty to report on it.
However, as previously mentioned, you also need to avoid sensationalizing. Environmental science is a complicated matter, and you do no favors to it if you write stories with a tone that simplifies complex issues. You might think you are doing something beneficial by trying to alarm readers. However, you are most likely damaging your credibility severely by making or suggesting claims that are exaggerated or outright false. This will also be of great disservice to the environmental science community, as they will be unfairly associated with promoting misleading information.
Do you know the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics?
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