Online courses from the Ethical Journalism Network

The Ethical Journalist’s Toolkit

The Ethical Journalism Network has collaborated with the Thomson Foundation to create a course on ethics in journalism as part of their Journalism Now series of online courses.

About the course

There should be no journalism without ethics, particularly in a digital world, where there is a constant flow of information, much of which is false.

This course will look at:

  • How to apply ethical principles to your journalism, whether you are working in social media, in print or on TV/radio.
  • How to maintain your independence and impartiality in the face of powerful interests trying to influence your work.
  • How to maintain your humanity and the humanity of the people you are reporting about, even when other journalists fail to.
  • How to ignore fake news and discover the facts, while maintaining your principles of honesty, objectivity and accountability.

By the end of the course:

  • You will have developed your own ‘ethical toolkit’, that will help you make the correct judgement for every story.
  • You will feel more confident in maintaining your independence and sticking to your principles when dealing with false information, sensitive material or attempts from vested interests to influence your work.
  • You will understand the connection between applying your ethical toolkit and the trust which your audience places in your journalism.
  • You will discover that this trust means you can increase your sources of stories, as people – especially those who feel marginalised in society – believe in the accuracy and independence of your reporting.

Whether you are starting out on your journalistic career, or you’re an experienced reporter, you will – hopefully – find this course’s examination of ethical journalism useful in improving your skills and career.

Participating experts

You should be able to complete this course within two hours over multiple sessions.

Copyright: How to protect it, how not to breach it

The Ethical Journalism Network has partnered with the collaborated with the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)and the Thomson Foundation‘s  Journalism Now platform, to create a free online course – “Copyright: How to protect it, how not to breach it”.  This course was produced with support from the Norwegian-based Kopinor licensing agency.

Course Overview 

Section One: – The course begins by looking at copyright law and what it means for journalists.

Section Two:  The rights journalists have over original material:

  • How to maintain copyright.
  • How to track text and pictures online if you think someone has used your work without permission or attribution.
  • How to watermark images so that it is more difficult to use them without permission.

Section Three:  Responsibilities to others and their rights:

  • How to respect the copyright when referring to the work of other journalists.
  • How to work within the law when using someone else’s material
  • When do you need to pay for material

By the end of the course participants will:

  • Understand copyright and why it is important to do everything you can to safeguard it.
  • Learned practical tips to help journalists maintain their own copyright.

Participating experts

Ethics in Data Journalism

The Ethical Journalism Network has collaborated with the Thomson Foundation to create a course to help data journalists critically reflect on ethical challenges throughout each stage in the reporting process.

Ethics in data journalism” was launched in Sepetember 2019.

About the course

  1. Acquisition and sources

  • How do you get the data? Was it freely published? Was it acquired through a leak? Are you aware of the potential consequences?
  • What are the ethics of acquiring your data? Do you have to steal it, bribe someone, does it breach copyright? Who are your data sources? How would you offer protection for your sources?
  • Did you acquire data via an access to information act for example? Or did you write a piece of code a ‘bot’ that scours part of the internet vacuuming up all your software can find? And if you write code does it include your name and contact details so the website operator can see who is seeking information? Are you being transparent? At what point do we have to be transparent about how you will use your data?
  • Can you justify your choices? Why have you decided to acquire this?
  1. Data cleaning, management and analysis

  • Do you understand the data? The accuracy of your reporting will depend on your full understanding of it. Is it up to date? Has it already been processed? Is it raw or unstructured?
  • Is your data about people? If it is, do the individuals concerned need their privacy protecting?
  • Is it factual? Or is it opinion that might change? If it is response to questions or surveys, did the respondents tell the truth or did they provide an answer that the interviewer might want to hear? Did they consent for the data to be used for journalism?
  • How good are your data processing skills? Can you enter numbers into a spreadsheet and are you comfortable with the analytical tools in your spreadsheet software? Is your data raw with inconsistencies in it and can you design data processing rules that are fair, accurate and transparent to clean the data?
  • Are your conclusions safely drawn from the data, or they an artefact of the way you processed it?
  • Have you thought about the in-built biases within the data sets you are using and how to avoid these being transferred with your use of the data?
  1. Publication

  • What are you going to publish? How will you let your audience know that this data and your journalism can be trusted? What do you need to say about the source of the data? What will you put on the web to accompany your data? Raw data? Your analysis spreadsheets? How transparent should you be? How do you publish data that is acquired from leaks?
  • Ownership: Who does the data belong to? Is it public? Do you need to tell the owner that you are using their data?
  1. Presentation and audiences

  • How should you present your findings? Are you using graphs and are they constructed clearly and fairly? Does your choice of language reflect the appropriate level of confidence in your data and your analysis? Have you explained your sources? Have you been clear where AI has been used? Have you offered a right to reply? How do you avoid manipulation of data merely to produce attention-grabbing headlines?
  1. Coordination and collaboration

  • Cross-border investigative networks and transnational collaborations
  • Open data and open source coding practices
  • Data journalism and gender

Migration reporting toolkit

The EJN was contracted to develop this toolkit by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), with the support of the European Broadcasting Union and European Federation of Journalists. It builds on the popular 2008 Diversity Toolkit that FRA also developed in close partnership with the European Broadcasting Union.

The toolkit can be accessed here: http://e-learning.fra.europa.eu

Course Overview

The online e-Media Toolkit provides first-hand assistance to media professionals with learning resources, training courses, and opportunities to share and interact in three sections:

  1. Learning: allows users to take courses in which journalists or editors of leading media outlets share their real-life newsroom dilemmas of reporting on migration.
  2. Training: provides material for media trainers to design their own courses.
  3. Sharing: ethical journalism principles. allows users to interact with other users through forum discussions on fundamental rights.

Users can also propose new courses or download the news examples for further discussion among peers.

Drawing on input from leading media outlets like Agence France-Presse, Le MondeThe GuardianRadio France InternationalFrance TV, the BBC, and the Financial Times, the toolkit offers wide-ranging guidance on covering migration from different types of media.

This includes how to ethical reporting treating people fairly and with dignity, balancing accuracy, impartiality and humanity as well as the importance of context in providing balanced, impartial coverage.

Access the toolkit here: http://e-learning.fra.europa.eu

Ethical Journalism Resources

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