The Associated Press, AP, has been one of the leading groups in news reporting since its inception in 1846. The company has changed in many different ways from the time it was founded, but yet it still remains steadfast in its beliefs. Part of those beliefs is a code of ethics and values all AP reporters must abide by or face consequences. The foundation of the AP’s code is similar, generally speaking, to most of the others journalism codes. It says reporters should not plagiarize, avoid conﬂicts of interest, not pay for interviews, etc.
However, what does set the AP above the others is the group’s commitment to integrity “We insist on the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior when we gather and deliver the news,” says AP.org.
The code’s primary purpose is clear. it is designed to give Associated Press journalists guidelines on how to act ethically in certain situations, while maintaining high standards of news reporting.
Furthermore, the values code also acts as a warning to those who might act unethically. Failure to abide by these rules may result in punishment ranging from a warning lecture or the loss of a job depending on the severity. There are multiple implicit values throughout the code, but the main one has got to be the “golden rule” it’s not stated directly, but through the AP’s efforts to be fair, balanced and respect everyone it is implied their reporters should treat everyone the way they would like themselves to be treated.
This is not uncommon as most of the ethics codes have it, whether directly or indirectly, some form of the golden rule.
The Associated Press code is fairly comprehensive but there are some parts, which do not seem necessary, speciﬁcally the section on gifts. The section states reporters should not accept gifts unless they are worth $25 or less. If the potential gift is worth more it should be “politely refused.” The aim behind this clause is to maintain objectivity. However, it should be up to each journalist whether accepting a gift would interfere with his or her objectivity. Journalist should be allowed to receive gifts as appreciation, but only if they are able to remain objective. Part of the code was surprising was the section pertaining to Obscenities, profanities, and vulgarities. The segment of the code fundamentally says before using any obscene or vulgar words every effort should be made to ﬁnd away around it.
This section was surprising, because it feels that should be a given and an entire part of the code isn’t needed. Furthermore, the code says the AP will “link the least offensive image necessary to tell the story.” Again this was shocking due to the fact generally the ﬁrst priority of a newspaper or website is accuracy and by censoring parts of the story it seems that may take away from a story’s accuracy. The ethics code is nearly the embodiment of the other codes discussed in class. However, there isn’t one or two it follows but instead is a mixture of nearly all of them. This is in part because the codes we discussed in class overlap quite a bit. For example, Rawls’ “Veil of Ignorance” discussed a social contract based on fairness but it also states that fairness is not necessarily equal treatment.
In the same way articles by the AP are written to give both sides a voice, but in any given story one side may have a bulk of the story and the other does not. Essentially, both sides get their story told but their representation in the article is not automatically equal. There are a wide variety of topics covered by the code but there is one it missed captions should have been covered in the guidelines. This day in age more reporters are shooting their own video and taking their own pictures. Therefore it is imperative to give journalists rules to abide by when it comes to captions on videos and photos. Also, it gives the AP reporters something to check for even if they are not writing the captions. In addition to newspapers, the AP code applies to websites and social media. For any reporters using social media, which is most of them, it is crucial to use the accounts as if they are stories. People look to journalists as the go to for information, but if you are unprofessional on your Twitter, Facebook or any other social media it will hurt the reporters credibility on air or in papers.
Also, the codes section on opinions directly correlates to social media, as a majority of it is opinion. The AP states journalists should be mindful of there opinions as they can damage not only the writer’s reputation but could damage the reputation of the entire Associated Press. As one of the industry leaders in news reporting there is little doubt, the Associated Press code is workable in the modern-day media. However, to silence the doubters there are multiple reasons why. First, the AP code is constantly updating, one of the reasons it to not be antiquated, also, the code is comprehensive and covers nearly every possible scenario a journalist might encounter.
Finally, with the number of employees operating under the Associated Press their code is effectively the standard in news reporting. For example, their AP stylebook is taught to most upcoming journalist, including the Manship School of Mass Communications. Overall, the AP’s code is one of the most widespread codes in terms of topics it covers it lays out a way to handle nearly every situation for journalists from gifts to plagiarism. As one of the industry leaders, the Associated Press’s ethics and values are for the primary purpose of establishing solid guidelines for journalists. Furthermore, by applying the code to social media and altering a couple sections the AP‘s code could be one of the best not just for journalist but also for most people, especially the values portion. If the world were to follow that part of the code such as treating everyone with respect it would help humanity as a whole.