A Proposed Code of Ethics in Journalism for Alternative Media
by Anitra L. Freeman

Distributed for the purposes of discussion.

Speak truth to power -- and make sure it's true.
I will not make false or misleading statements, nor repeat reports by others that I cannot verify. I will check facts and figures before publication. If I do print an error of fact, I will print a retraction and correction.
First do no harm.
My primary concern is justice for *individuals* in homelessness and poverty. I will hold service agencies, non-profits and grassroots organizations accountable for injustice as I do anyone else, but I will not engage in bashing. I will always make certain of my facts, include a reminder of the true needs that exist and the successful activities taking place, make positive recommendations for improvement, and take care not to provide ammunition for those who oppose all services for homeless people.
Question everything.
I will not report any official statements as given without critical analysis to determine inaccuracies, omissions or bias.
Advocate up front.
I will not refrain from reporting on or advocating for causes i believe in. I will declare my affiliations and personal opinion to my readers whenever they may reasonably be expected to influence my judgement of the subject I am reporting.
A good cause is not served by bad reporting.
I will not report just one side of a controversy. The interests of whoever I am advocating for are best served by accurately reporting opposing viewpoints and intelligently critiquing them.
Serve the cause, not my ego.
I will write to communicate to people who do not yet agree with me as well as to speak for the people who do. I will not indulge in personal attacks or any other diversions that will interfere with achieving the success of the mission I support
Stay in contact.
I will act as part of my community. I will be easy to contact and i will listen to vendors, other homeless and low-income people, other activists and advocates as well as other neighbors. I will use my paper to bring people together to work on common causes.
I will provide access for others to speak.
I will speak for homeless and low-income people, but I will also provide access for them to speak for themselves.
Practice what I preach.
I will practice the same principles of justice in my private life and my paper's organization that I advocate in print.
Advertisers will not influence my reporting.
It is my choice whether to accept advertising to support my paper, and which advertisers to accept. The persons who solicit and manage advertising will not be the same people who report on any issue that the same advertisers are involved in.
I am ultimately accountable to homeless and low-income individuals.
My loyalty is to people, not to organizations.

Other Essays

Other Writing

Home Page