Journalism students initiate ethics pledge

5/15/2008 - By: Zanny Marsh

Reynolds School of Journalism students are taking on the issue of professional ethics in a tangible way. At the urging of the school’s student advisory board and its outgoing senator for student government, graduating seniors will sign an ethics pledge that will guide their careers. The seniors will gather for the signing at a Spring 2008 Commencement reception May 16 at 2:30 p.m., in the journalism school atrium.

“The students are happy about it,” said Cortney Maddock, senior journalism major and member of the Journalism Student Advisory Board. “It shows such a level of maturity and responsibility. I’m so proud of the people that I will soon call my colleagues. I’ll be happy if [signing the pledge deters] just one person before falsifying a contact or plagiarizing or lying or not contributing to the common good.”

The pledge reads in part, “I will uphold and apply the highest standards of integrity and ethics. This includes helping others by minimizing harm and showing compassion…I will act independently and be accountable for my actions.”

“Having the opportunity to sign this pledge formalizes our intention as future professionals to meet a personal and professional standard that the journalism school holds so highly,” said Monika Mala, senior journalism student and student government senator.

Jerry Ceppos, dean of the journalism school, is especially proud that the students appreciate the importance of practicing ethical behavior in their professional careers.

Ceppos is a former executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News and former vice president for news of Knight Ridder newspapers.

“I spent the last years of my newspaper career worrying constantly about plagiarism and other ethical issues,” Ceppos said. “This has been a student-initiated effort. It speaks to the character of our graduating class that the students are holding themselves to this ethical standard. As a dean, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

The ethics pledge ceremony is scheduled during the school’s commencement reception for graduating seniors. Faculty, staff and the students will take a group photo, share memories, and discuss plans for commencement exercises, May 17.

Maddock anticipates that every member of the 72-student graduating class will sign the pledge.


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