Red light and green light ethics

May 26, 2005 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

Most discussions of journalistic ethics, according to a recent article by Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute, stem from an examination of the mistakes that journalists have made.

These discussions are likely to result in what he calls �red light ethics� – rules that tell the journalist to stop, be cautious, be careful, and when in doubt, back off. Clark argues instead for a set of �green light ethics� that encourages journalists to be bold, brave and find ways to tell the truth rather than to keep it hidden.

The kind of ethical approach that Clark describes is exemplified by the way the Spokane Spokesman-Review exposed the nefarious behavior of its mayor. It is also the kind that would attract young people into the profession.


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