Princetonian Posts Ethics Code Online, Offering ‘Unique Window Into Journalistic Practices’

In an effort to increase reader understanding and underscore a call for greater transparency campus-wide, The Daily Princetonian has posted its full internal code of ethics online.

Prince editor-in-chief Marcelo Rochabrun describes the code as “a set of guidelines that is mandatory reading for all our staff members and details the standards that we seek to uphold, as well as the regulations we have in place.”

As he explained at the start of the month in a column also announcing the Princeton University student newspaper’s new editorial board:

“We acknowledge that student newspapers face fundamentally different challenges than professional publications. We are prone to conflicts of interest. Our community is small and reporters maintain a dual identity as journalists and full-time students. Publishing our code of ethics, however, will allow the reader a unique window into our journalistic practices. We feel that this will allow our readers to better understand our stories and to be able to call us out when they feel we have acted unfairly.”

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The Prince nabbed a few headlines in fall 2012 when its editorial board decided to no longer allow staffers to include quotes obtained via email in news stories. As I posted at the time, the shift — “the result of consultations with major national news organizations’ senior editors and reporters” — was apparently a pushback against the “prevalence of email quotes” that had been appearing in its articles. Editors felt the trend had become detrimental to the Prince’s journalistic mission.

A check of the paper’s code of ethics confirms the restriction is still in place: “‘Prince’ interviews must be conducted in person or by phone. As a matter of policy, interviews cannot be conducted over email, except under extraordinary circumstances and with the previous approval of a news editor. We believe that interviews should be open and candid discussions, qualities that are easily lost in an email exchange. Sources who decline to speak to a reporter in normal circumstances will be noted as ‘declined to be interviewed.'”

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