Journalistic ethics and standards comprise principles of ethics and good practice applicable to journalists. This subset of media ethics is known as journalism's professional "code of ethics.” 

While various codes may have some differences across publications, most share common elements including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability, as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public. Like many broader ethical systems, the ethics of journalism include the principle of "limitation of harm." This may involve the withholding of certain details from reports, such as the names of minor children, crime victims' names, or information not materially related to the news report where the release of such information might, for example, harm someone's reputation.


OPINION: An opinion is a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Opinion journalism is journalism that makes no claim of objectivity, that is, journalism based on opinion rather than fact. Opinion journalism features a subjective viewpoint, usually with some social or political purpose. Common examples include newspaper columns, editorials, op-eds, editorial cartoons, and punditry.

An opinion piece is an article, usually published in a newspaper or magazine, that mainly reflects the author's opinion about a subject. An op-ed, short for "opposite the editorial page," is a written prose piece which expresses the opinion of an author usually not affiliated with the publication's editorial board, a group of experts who dictate the tone and direction the publication's editorial policy will take.

EDITORIAL: An editorial is an article written by the senior editorial staff or publisher of a newspaper, magazine, or any other written document, often unsigned. Major United States newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Boston Globe, often classify editorials under the heading "opinion.” Typically, a newspaper's editorial board evaluates which issues are important for their readership to know the newspaper's opinion on.

ANALYSIS: Analytic journalism is a field of journalism that seeks to make sense of complex reality in order to create public understanding. It combines aspects of investigative journalism and explanatory reporting and aims to create evidence-based interpretations of reality. Investigative journalism is deeply analytic, but its intent is primarily to expose. Analytic journalism's primary aim is to explain. It contextualizes its subject by describing background, historical details, and statistical data. The goal is a comprehensive explanation that shapes audience perception of the phenomenon.

POLITICAL: Political journalism is a broad branch of journalism that includes coverage of all aspects of politics and political science, although the term usually refers specifically to coverage of civil governments and political power. It aims to provide voters with the information to formulate their own opinion and participate in community, local or national matters that will affect them.

Digital media use has increased and it provides instant coverage of campaign, politics, event news and an accessible platform for the candidate. Media outlets known for their political journalism like The New York Times and the Washington Post, have increased their use of this medium as well. The reporting of news with a biased viewpoint can also take away the audience's ability to form their own opinion or beliefs of what has been reported. This type of reporting is subjective with a possible social or political purpose.


JOURNALISM: The unbiased production and distribution of reports on current or past events based on facts and supported with proofs or evidence, informing readers objectively of what is happening in their community, country, and the world at large. The central job of journalism is to establish the facts and share them as widely as possible--the press performs a very important role as means of mass communication in the modern world. 

MISINFORMATION: Information whose inaccuracy is unintentional, and spread unknowingly. 

DISINFORMATION (FAKE NEWS): Information that is deliberately false or misleading, often spread for political gain, profit, or to discredit a target individual, group, movement, or political party. Also known as fake news: untrue information presented as news. Once common in print, the prevalence of fake news has increased with the rise of social media, especially the Facebook News Feed. Political polarization, post-truth politics, confirmation bias, and social media algorithms have been implicated in the spread of fake news. It is sometimes generated and propagated by hostile foreign actors, particularly during elections.

CONSPIRACY THEORY: A theory that rejects the standard explanation for an event or social trends and instead credits covert groups or organizations with carrying out deceptive plots, often political in motivation, largely unknown to the general public. 

It is suggested that the term entered everyday language in the United States after 1964, the year in which the Warren Commission, the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, shared its findings, with The New York Times running five stories that year using the term. Conspiracy theories once limited to fringe audiences have become commonplace in mass media, emerging as a cultural phenomenon of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

FACT: An occurrence in the real world; reality; truth. A fact is something known to exist or have happened and, generally speaking, facts are independent from belief.

FICTION: Something invented by the imagination or feigned. Generally, fiction is a narrative form, in any medium, consisting of people, events, or places that are imaginary—in other words, not based strictly on history or fact.

BIAS: Prejudice, a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience, in favor of or against one thing, person, or group as compared with another, usually in a way considered to be close-minded or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. People may develop biases for or against an individual, a group, or a belief.

DEMOCRACY: A system of government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised through a system of direct or indirect representation which is decided through periodic free elections. 

REPUBLICAN: A member or supporter of the Republican Party. The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP (Grand Old Party), is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its main, historic rival, the Democratic Party. The 21st-century Republican Party ideology is American conservatism, which generally considers individual liberty—within the bounds of American values—as the fundamental trait of democracy; this perspective contrasts with that of modern liberals, who generally place a greater value on equality and social justice and emphasize the need for state intervention to achieve these goals, which incorporates both economic policies and social values. Today the GOP generally supports lower taxes, free market capitalism, restrictions on immigration, increased military spending, gun rights, restrictions on abortion, deregulation and restrictions on labor unions.

The GOP was founded in 1854, when antislavery leaders joined forces to oppose the extension of slavery into the western territories. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president. After 1912, after tensions within the GOP had been building for years over the issue of government regulation, the Party underwent a social ideological shift to the right. And, following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the party's core base shifted, with Southern states becoming more reliably Republican in presidential politics.

As of October 2020, there have been 19 Republican presidents (including incumbent president Donald Trump, who was elected in 2016), the most from any one political party. As of 2020, the GOP controls the presidency, a majority in the U.S. Senate, a majority of state governorships, a majority (29) of state legislatures, and 21 state government trifectas (governorship and both legislative chambers). Six of the nine sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices were nominated by Republican presidents.

DEMOCRAT: A member or supporter of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its main rival, the Republican Party. The Democratic Party of the 21st century is generally associated with more progressive policies. It supports social and economic equality. They advocate for the civil rights of minorities, back various social welfare programs, endorse a progressive tax, and notably support environmental protection programs, gun control, less-strict immigration laws, expanding access to healthcare, and worker rights.

The modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party. The Democratic Party has changed significantly during its more than two centuries of existence. During the 19th century the party supported or tolerated slavery, and it opposed civil rights reforms after the American Civil War in order to retain the support of Southern voters. By the mid-20th century it had undergone a dramatic ideological realignment and reinvented itself as a party supporting organized labor, the civil rights of minorities, and progressive reform. Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, the party has promoted a social liberal platform, a platform that endorses a regulated market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights. Under social liberalism, the common good is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual.

As of October 2020, 14 Democrats have served as President of the United States. The first was Andrew Jackson, who was the seventh president and served from 1829 to 1837. The most recent was Barack Obama, who was the 44th and held office from 2009 to 2017. As of 2020, the party holds a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the mayoralty of most major cities, 24 state governorships, 19 state legislatures, and 15 state government trifectas (governorship and both legislative chambers). Three of the nine sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices were appointed by Democratic presidents.

CONSERVATIVE: Averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values; some conservatives seek to keep things as they are, while others want a return to the way things were at an earlier time. The term is also associated with right-wing politics. In the 21st century, the Republican Party supports an American conservative platform, with foundations in economic liberalism, fiscal conservatism, and social conservatism.

LIBERAL: A supporter of policies that are socially progressive and promote social welfare. Politically, it means a person who believes that the government should be active in supporting social and political change. In the 21st century, the biggest liberal political party in the United States is the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party's philosophy of modern liberalism blends notions of civil liberty and social equality with support for a mixed economy.

CENTER: Center politics favor moderate positions; people holding these views are often called moderates. Centrism is a political outlook or specific position that involves acceptance or support of a balance of a degree of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy, while opposing political changes which would result in a significant shift of society strongly to either the left or the right.

In the U.S., people often use left as a shorthand for the Democratic Party and right as a shorthand for the Republican Party. Center-left refers to people, groups, or views that are just to the left of the political center in a country. Center-right refers to being a little bit to the right of center.

CAPITALISM: An economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, a price system, private property, and the recognition of property rights, voluntary exchange and wage labor.

Capital is wealth—that is, money and goods—that's used to produce more wealth. Capitalism is practiced enthusiastically by capitalists, people who use capital to increase production and make more goods and money. Capitalism works by encouraging competition in a fair and open market. Its opposite is often said to be socialism. 

SOCIALISM: A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Social democracy is a government system that has similar values to socialism, but within a capitalist framework. The ideology, named from democracy where people have a say in government actions, supports a competitive economy with money while also helping people whose jobs pay low wages. Where a capitalist economy encourages private actions and ownership, socialism prefers public or government ownership and control of parts of the economy. In a pure capitalist system, there would be no public schools or public parks, no government programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and maybe not even any public highways or police. In a pure socialist system, there wouldn't be any private corporations. In other words, there's just about no such thing as pure capitalism or pure socialism in the modern world.

Socialism is often conflated with communism. It is different from communism in that it is compatible with democracy and liberty, whereas communism involves creating an 'equal society' through an authoritarian state, which denies basic liberties. Communism aims at state control of the economy to attain greater equality – often at the expense of individual liberty.

FASCISM: A system of government led by a dictator who typically rules by forcefully and often violently suppressing opposition and criticism, controlling all industry and commerce, and promoting nationalism and often racism. Opposed to liberalism and Marxism, fascism is placed on the far right within the traditional left–right spectrum.

The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I ( Europe’s first fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, took the name of his party from the Latin word “fasces,” which referred to a bundle of elm or birch rods used as a symbol of penal authority in ancient Rome), before spreading to other European countries. Although fascist parties and movements differed significantly from one another, they had many characteristics in common, including extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and political and cultural liberalism, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of elites, and the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: “people’s community”), in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation. 

ANTI-FASCISM (ANTI-FA): Antifa is an anti-fascist action and left-wing political movement in the United States comprising an array of autonomous groups and individuals; it is not an organization with a leader, a defined structure or membership roles. Antifa members campaign against actions they view as authoritarian, homophobic, racist or xenophobic and aims to achieve their objectives through the use of both nonviolent and violent direct action rather than through policy reform. “Antifa” was reportedly first used during WWII and was borrowed from a German phrase signaling an opposition to Nazism. More people began joining the movement in the United States after the 2016 election of Mr. Trump.

There have been multiple efforts to discredit antifa groups via hoaxes on social media, many of them false flag attacks originating from alt-right and 4chan users posing as antifa backers on Twitter. Some hoaxes have been picked up and reported as fact by right-leaning media. There have been repeated calls by Donald Trump and William Barr to designate antifa as a terrorist organization, a move that academics, legal experts, and others argue would exceed the authority of the presidency and violate the First Amendment. Several analyses, reports, and studies concluded that antifa is not a major domestic terrorism risk and ranked far-right extremism and white supremacy as the top risk.

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