AEJMC Code of Ethics Teaching

A Code of Ethics for Teaching Journalism and Mass Communication

(Submitted by the Standing Committee on Teaching Standards, AEJMC, Dec. 5, 2005)


Journalism and mass communication educators, believing in the worth and dignity of each human being, recognize the supreme importance of the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence and the nurture of democratic principles — especially the nurture of freedom of expression. They recognize the magnitude of the responsibility inherent in the teaching process.
(adapted from NEA Code of Ethics, 1975)

1. Respect for the Autonomy of Others.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • respect individual learners, their development and their learning needs;
  • value freedom of expression — and appropriate, respectful reactions to ideas and opinions expressed;
  • acknowledge the rights of students, faculty and staff to make their own decisions as long as their decisions do not interfere with the welfare or rights of others;
  • value academic freedom, of students as well as colleagues;
  • foster student discovery, rather than indoctrination.

2. Minimizing Harm.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • engage in relationships with students and colleagues that are not exploitative;
  • seek consultation when ethical problems arise;
  • attempt to mitigate any injurious effects of bias in their work;
  • convey personal ideology or positions in respectful ways;
  • do not mandate social or political behavior in their students;
  • do not tolerate, even passively, unethical behavior on the part of colleagues or students.

3. Benefits to Students and Colleagues.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • accept responsibility for their part in student welfare and development;
  • deliver the services to which students are entitled (e.g. dependable performance in teaching, advising);
  • whenever appropriate, acknowledge assistance from students or colleagues;
  • recognize and attempt to fulfill their role as exemplars, both in scholarship and in ethical behavior.

4. Fairness and Equity.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • treat others as they would wish to be treated under similar circumstances;
  • maintain fair and judicious practices when evaluating students or colleagues;
  • pursue sanctions for academic misconduct only after gathering thorough evidence.
  • advocate and practice non-discrimination in all aspects of teaching.

5. Fidelity and Honesty.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • exhibit truthfulness and keep promises in their dealings with students and colleagues;
  • demand and foster honest academic conduct;
  • label their own opinions as such and expect others to do the same;
  • avoid conflicts of interest and other behavior that would reduce others’ trust in the faculty or academic profession;
  • display openness in dealing with students, colleagues and the public;
  • use procedures for informed consent whenever applicable.

6. Dignity.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • accord dignity to students and colleagues;
  • respect the confidential nature of the student-instructor relationship;
  • respect diversity in all its forms.

7. Caring.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • exercise institutional duties with care;
  • extend compassion and sensitivity to the greatest extent possible toward students and colleagues.

8. Pursuit of Excellence.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • maintain their own competence, in both their subject and in their pedagogy;
  • engage in continued reflection and evaluation — and are committed to consequent improvement of their own practice;
  • engage in continuous professional development by learning and adopting new instructional methods and strategies;
  • are open to criticism and new ideas, from students and colleagues, yet do not succumb immediately to any suggestion;
  • take pride in their work and encourage students and colleagues to do the same.

9. Commitment to the Learning Community.
Journalism and mass communication educators:

  • are collegial with colleagues, staff and students;
  • maintain an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning.

10. Opportunity.
Journalism and mass communication educators are committed to greater participation in higher education in journalism and mass communication, and especially committed to equality of educational opportunity.

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