The Journalist's Moral Compass: Basic Principles / Edition 1

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What basic ethical principles should guide American journalists to help them justify their invasion of an individual's privacy, to be objective in their reporting, to avoid being influenced by government or economic controls? A wire service and newsroom veteran and a sociologist and scholar in mass media/communications have designed a philosophical guide for students, scholars, and practitioners to use as a kind of moral compass. Key excerpts from some of the most important writings on the subject from Milton to Louis Brandeis, from Plato to Sissela Bok, and from Adam Smith to John Merrill deal with some of the most serious contemporary issues in journalism today. This short text also includes the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics and a full index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[A] valuable collection of readings that will put anyone in touch with thinking on ethics from John Milton to Karl Marx to James Gordon Bennett to A.J. Liebling. The richness of these sources is what gives the book its value. . . . The book is rich in seminal ideas, and is ideal for the student of ethics. And doesn't that include all of us?"


Journalism Educator

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275951535
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/24/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Lexile: 1360L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.19 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

STEVEN R. KNOWLTON, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Pennsylvania State University with a Ph.D. in history, worked for more than twenty years as a reporter and editor for six different newspapers around the country and for United Press International and as a press aide on a presidential campaign.

PATRICK R. PARSONS is Associate Professor of Communications at Pennsylvania State University with his doctoral degree in journalism and mass communications.

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Table of Contents


Politics: The Press and the State

John Milton, Areopagitica, 1644

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651

John Locke, On Civil Government: The Second Treatise, 1691

"Cato" (John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon) Cato's Letters, 1720

Tunis Wortman, A Treatise Concerning Political Enquiry and the Liberty of the Press, 1801

Maximilien Robespierre, Liberty of the Press, National Gazette, 1791

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, "The Right to Privacy," Harvard Law Review, Dec. 15, 1890

Philosophy: The Press and the Truth

Plato, "The Allegory of the Cave," The Republic, 386-367 B.C.

Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, 1620

Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, 1922

Warren Breed, "Social Control in the Newsroom," Social Forces, (33:4) May 1955

Suzanne Pingree and Robert Hawkins, "News Definitions and Their Effects on Women," Women and the News, 1978

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image, 1964

Sissela Bok, Lying, 1979

Economy: The Press and the Market

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776

Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 1859

James Gordon Bennett, "To The Public--Enlargement of the "Herald"," New York Herald, Jan. 1, 1836: Horace Greeley, "A Great Journalist Dead," New York Tribune, June 3, 1872

Joseph Pulitzer, "The Great Issue," St. Louis Post and Dispatch, Jan. 10, 1879

Upton Sinclair, The Brass Check, 1920

A.J. Liebling, "Prologue: The End of The Free Lunch," The Press, 1961

Ben Bagdikian, "The Lords of the Global Village, The Nation, June 12, 1989

The Commission on Freedom of the Press, (The Hutchins Commission), A Freeand Responsible Press, 1947

John Merrill, The Imperative of Freedom, 1974


Appendix: Society of Professional Journalists "Code of Ethics", 1987

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