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Media Ethics

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Students understand why ethical journalism is important and can apply the guiding principles of the journalists’ code of ethics.

This unit introduces students to the principles that guide journalists as they report stories. It includes pre- and post-visit activities designed to bracket the Media Ethics EDClass, plus a class-specific gallery guide. (The activities can also be done independent of a visit.) Through these experiences, students will become more critical consumers of information as they come to understand why ethical journalism is important; how journalists attempt to be accurate, fair and clear; and what happens when they fail to live up to these standards.

OBJECTIVE: Students understand why ethical journalism is important and can apply the guiding principles of the journalists’ code of ethics.

TARGET AUDIENCE: Middle and high school

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Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.


  • What are ethics?
  • What principles guide journalists as they work?
  • What do journalistic fairness, accuracy and clarity look like?
  • Why do journalists sometimes fail to produce ethical work? What are the effects when this happens?
+ More


  • Media literacy
  • The role of the free press in our daily lives
  • How the news is made, journalism ethics
  • Ethical debate and decision-making
+ More


  1. Before Your Visit
    • Media Ethics Scenarios: This activity helps students apply journalism standards of accuracy, fairness and clarity in deciding how to report the news.
  2. During Your Visit
    • NewseumED Class – Media Ethics: This lesson familiarizes students with some of the ethical issues journalists face as they strive to be accurate, fair and clear. By examining real-life case studies, students grapple with issues journalists may encounter, including privacy, anonymous sources and the pressure to be first.
    • Media Ethics Gallery Guide: This guide helps students navigate the Ethics Center in the Newseum and apply a journalist’s code of ethics to real-life case studies.
  3. After Your Visit
    • Journalists’ Code of Ethics: Students evaluate three recent news stories for adherence to the standards expected of journalists in their daily work.
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