The Journalist's Creed

Dateline: Wed 18 Feb 2009

Idiot that I am, I never applied to the University of Missouri in Columbia for journalism school. I had some high-falutin idea that -- what? -- I had to be on the East Coast or the University of Chicago (reject, although they took me for a summer session).

Had I gone to this well-established school, I would no doubt have known about the Journalist's Creed, and I wouldn't have been whining for the next 40 years about journalists not having a recognized code of ethics, standards, etc.

Anyhow, here it is. Dated, yes; a bit quaint. But still there are solid bones in this skeleton from whence to build a new ethos....

So, go for it:

"Journalist's Creed

The Journalist's Creed by Walter Williams

The Journalist's Creed was written by the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, Walter Williams. One century later, his declaration remains one of the clearest statements of the principles, values and standards of journalists throughout the world. The plaque bearing the creed is located on the main stairway to the second floor of Neff Hall.

I believe in the profession of journalism.

I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.

I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.

I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.

I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one's own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another's instructions or another's dividends.

I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.

I believe that the journalism which succeeds best -- and best deserves success -- fears God and honors Man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today's world."

Comments? Thoughts? Too out of touch for words? What would the new creed look like? That remains to be seen....see earlier post, about the efforts to write a new creed.

Go for it.


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