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Snowden Ethics Initiative

Since 2005, Snowden interns have benefited from a pioneering journalism ethics training program that David Risser of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) Education for Journalism Committee says “may be worth considering for replication across the country.” Prior to their summer jobs, interns learn several ethics decision-making models based on a workbook created by UO professor Tom Bivins, the John L. Hulteng Chair in Media Ethics and Responsibility at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Then, while working for their community newspapers, they discuss weekly case studies with newsroom staff members and editors, and arrive at a course of action.

The Ethics Initiative of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism represents the formal recognition of an emphasis on journalistic ethics that has grounded the program from its inception.

Since 1997, when the Snowden Program funded its first summer internships at small and mid-sized Oregon newspapers, students have been increasingly engaged in discussions centered on ethical decision making. Today a formal ethics training component has been fully integrated into the program for use not only by those participating as Snowden interns, but also by journalism students around the country.

This teaching module contains a database of journalism ethics case studies, introductory materials on the importance of the media in society, and the basics of professional ethics. In addition, a process is presented to facilitate discussion and action regarding the case studies. The aim to ultimately provide a tool and a process by which future ethical decisions can be made.

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