Last Updated: November 29, 2006
ASNE Statement of Principles
ASNE's Statement of Principles
was originally adopted in 1922 as the "Canons of Journalism." The document was
revised and renamed "Statement of Principles" in 1975.
PREAMBLE. The First
Amendment, protecting freedom of expression from abridgment by any law, guarantees
to the people through their press a constitutional right, and thereby places
on newspaper people a particular responsibility. Thus journalism demands of
its practitioners not only industry and knowledge but also the pursuit of a
standard of integrity proportionate to the journalist's singular obligation.
To this end the American Society of Newspaper Editors sets forth this Statement
of Principles as a standard encouraging the highest ethical and professional
ARTICLE I - Responsibility.
The primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve
the general welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments
on the issues of the time. Newspapermen and women who abuse the power of their
professional role for selfish motives or unworthy purposes are faithless to
that public trust. The American press was made free not just to inform or just
to serve as a forum for debate but also to bring an independent scrutiny to
bear on the forces of power in the society, including the conduct of official
power at all levels of government.
ARTICLE II - Freedom
of the Press. Freedom of the press belongs to the people. It must be defended
against encroachment or assault from any quarter, public or private. Journalists
must be constantly alert to see that the public's business is conducted in public.
They must be vigilant against all who would exploit the press for selfish purposes.
ARTICLE III - Independence.
Journalists must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety as well
as any conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict. They should neither
accept anything nor pursue any activity that might compromise or seem to compromise
ARTICLE IV - Truth
and Accuracy. Good faith with the reader is the foundation of good journalism.
Every effort must be made to assure that the news content is accurate, free
from bias and in context, and that all sides are presented fairly. Editorials,
analytical articles and commentary should be held to the same standards of accuracy
with respect to facts as news reports. Significant errors of fact, as well as
errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and prominently.
ARTICLE V - Impartiality.
To be impartial does not require the press to be unquestioning or to refrain
from editorial expression. Sound practice, however, demands a clear distinction
for the reader between news reports and opinion. Articles that contain opinion
or personal interpretation should be clearly identified.
ARTICLE VI - Fair
Play. Journalists should respect the rights of people involved in the news,
observe the common standards of decency and stand accountable to the public
for the fairness and accuracy of their news reports. Persons publicly accused
should be given the earliest opportunity to respond. Pledges of confidentiality
to news sources must be honored at all costs, and therefore should not be given
lightly. Unless there is clear and pressing need to maintain confidences, sources
of information should be identified.
These principles are intended
to preserve, protect and strengthen the bond of trust and respect between American
journalists and the American people, a bond that is essential to sustain the
grant of freedom entrusted to both by the nation's founders.