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30-60 minutes
  • Current Events
  • Journalism
  • 6-12

  1. Individually, or as a class, read the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
  2. Have each student pick three recent stories with photographs from newspapers, magazines or online news sites. (If the assignment is done outside of class, students could include television news.)
  3. Read and analyze each story for whether it complies with ethical standards in the SPJ Code of Ethics.
  4. Write a paragraph about each story explaining how it shows standards being implemented or shows a lack of standards. Be specific. Make sure to attach the news stories or story sources to the evaluations.

  • Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (download), one per student
  • Newspapers, magazines or online access to news websites

Have students share their findings and look for similarities. Then ask:

  • Did most stories and photographs follow the code of ethics?
  • Was it difficult to find examples that violated the standards?
  • Which standards, if any, were violated most often? Why do you think that is?
  • Why is it important for journalists to maintain standards?


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