Francis Marion University
Department of Mass Communication
Adapted with permission from the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
Journalism is more than another honorable profession. As practiced in its finest expression, it is a public trust. The journalist, an active agent in maintaining the democratic governing process, merits and retains that trust by serving the public honorably. Those aspiring to be a journalist risk betraying this trust by acting dishonorably.
The university and journalism communities share deeply rooted ideals and common values. Each holds personal and professional integrity to be essential attributes of membership in its community. As a journalism student, you are now a member of the larger community of scholarship and a prospective member of the professional community. Disciplining yourself to do what is right now will advance the prospect that you will contribute honorably to the profession in the future.
In a pluralistic environment, mass communication students are expected to abide by our department’s policy of academic integrity, by the profession’s ethical standards and by a student code of conduct that embrace the highest standards of personal integrity. Such compliance represents a social contract with the department that rests on the conviction that academic, professional and personal integrity of each individual member strengthens and improves the quality of life for the entire community, both now and in the future.
The widely recognized Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University has identified, and the Department of Mass Communication has endorsed, five fundamental values of academic integrity. They are:
These fundamental values have won wide acceptance and have been adopted by universities across the country.
Professional ethical standards
Virtually all media ethics codes have as an ultimate objective the maintenance of credibility. Credibility begins with a journalist’s honest pursuit of the truth within the framework of fairness, respect and responsibility that results in a trust by the public. While individual wording differs, most media codes are consistent with the principles embraced and adopted by the Society of Professional Journalists in 1996. The SPJ code can be summarized this way:
It is the responsibility of the journalist, acting independently (developing trust), to seek and report the truth (honestly and fairly) while minimizing harm (according respect) and being accountable to the public (demonstrating and accepting responsibility).
Code of Conduct
Journalism students have a responsibility to demonstrate high standards of personal integrity. This includes obeying federal, state and local laws, including showing respect for other people’s rights and property. Mutual respect should be observable at all times; particularly in the classroom. Furthermore, journalism students must refrain from committing any of the prohibited actions enumerated in the University’s “Code of Conduct” as written in the Student Handbook.
Department Conduct Forbidden
Journalism is non-fiction communication. Nothing should be fabricated by a journalist or a student of journalism. Journalists are obligated to collect accurate information and present it fairly. With few exceptions, the source of presented information should be clearly identified. This mission is inconsistent with any of the following examples of academic dishonesty, all of which are strictly forbidden.
1) FABRICATION – Fabrication consists of:
(a) the intentional falsification or invention of information, data, quotations, or sources in an academic exercise or in a journalistic presentation;
(b) mis-attributing information or presenting information in an assignment that was not gathered in accordance with the course syllabus, course outline or professor’s instructions.
2) PLAGIARISM – Plagiarism consists of:
(a) intentionally or knowingly representing the words or ideas of another person as your own.
(b) intentional failure to attribute language or ideas to their original source, in the manner required by the academic discipline (such as by quotation marks, attribution in the text, and footnote citation in an academic exercise) or in the manner required by journalism practice (such as by quotation marks and attribution in a journalistic presentation.)
(c) submitting work as your own but done by a fellow student, a previous student, a commercial or non-commercial enterprise, including web sites.
3) CHEATING – Cheating consists of:
(a) using unauthorized notes, study aids or other materials or information during an examination or for the preparation of other graded work;
(b) altering and resubmitting work previously submitted and graded or submitting identical or substantially identical work for credit in more than one course without prior permission from the instructor(s).
Cheating may occur on an examination, test, quiz, journalistic assignment or any other work submitted by a student to fulfill course requirements and presented as solely the work of the student.
4) UNFAIR ADVANTAGE – A student obtains an unfair advantage by:
(a) stealing, reproducing, circulating or otherwise gaining access to examination material prior to the time authorized by the instructor;
(b) stealing, destroying, defacing or concealing library materials with the purpose of depriving others of the use of the materials;
(c) collaborating with others on an academic or journalistic assignment in a manner not permitted by the instructor;
(d) intentionally obstructing or interfering with another student’s effort to complete an academic or journalistic exercise;
(e) using a substitute to take an examination; or
(f) undertaking any other activity intended to create an unfair advantage over other students in meeting course assignments and requirements;
(g) the unauthorized use of computer accounts, alteration of passwords, violation of library procedures or other intentional misuse or destruction of educational materials.
5) AIDING AND ABETTING – Aiding and abetting academic dishonesty consists of:
(a) knowingly providing material or information to another person who will use it in violation or circumvention of these academic integrity standards:
(b) testifying falsely at any proceeding regarding academic integrity;
(c) knowingly failing to report any incident of academic dishonesty of which the student has actual knowledge.
6) FALSIFICATION OF RECORDS – Falsification of records consists of:
(a) altering, fabricating, falsifying or forging all or any part of a department or university record for the purpose of gaining an academic advantage;
(b) obtaining an exemption from academic requirements or misrepresenting one’s academic record;
(c) signing or otherwise registering another person’s name to an assignment, project or class attendance sheet.