Ethics Handbook for Students

NYU Journalism Handbook for Students:
Ethics, Law and Good Practice

The handbook was written by Prof. Adam Penenberg, and is available in two versions:

Read the Handbook Online

Download PDF

Ethics Pledge

Ethics Pledge PDF

As a New York University journalism student, you are part of a community of scholars at a university recognized for its research. A scholar’s mission is to push forward the boundaries of knowledge; a journalist’s mission is to serve the public by seeking out and reporting the facts as accurately as possible. Good journalists and scholars share a commitment to the same principle: integrity in their work.

By signing this ethics pledge, you agree to maintain the highest standards of honesty and foster ethical behavior at all times. Anyone who fails to uphold these ethical standards has committed a serious violation of this agreement. Penalties can range from an F on an assignment to a failing grade in a course to expulsion, depending on the nature of the breach and the outcome of any inquiries held in accordance with NYU’s policies and procedures.

Examples of such activities can include (but are not limited to):

Plagiarism: Attempting to pass off someone else’s words or ideas as your own without proper attribution or acknowledgment. In both journalism and academia, this is akin to theft. Examples: Copying in whole or in part a published article or another student’s paper, borrowing language or concepts, lifting quotes or failing to use quotation marks where appropriate. This includes the unauthorized use of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT without the express permission of your instructor. See “Guidance on the Ethical Uses of Generative AI Tools in Journalism”.

Fabrication: Making up information, faking anecdotes or sources, falsifying quotes, creating fictitious sources, citing non-existent articles, or fudging data.

Multiple submission: Recycling assignments from one class for use in another, or submitting assignments to one class that were derived from research in another without prior approval from all professors involved.

Cheating: Using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or study aids in examinations or other academic exercises. Examples: Using study resources not expressly approved by the instructor, working with another student or students on a take-home exam without prior approval, tampering with grades, purchasing a paper written by someone else or paying someone to write an assignment for you.

In addition, if asked you will submit notes and source lists to your professor without delay.

Guidance on the Ethical Uses of Generative AI Tools in Journalism Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University

The rise of advanced generative AI models, such as ChatGPT, DALL·E and similar technologies, presents a paradigm shift in how we gather, analyze and disseminate information. While these tools hold immense potential, they also present ethical challenges that can harm the integrity of journalistic work. In recognition of these challenges, the faculty of the Journalism Institute at New York University have created this addendum to the Institute’s Ethics Pledge.

1. Transparency and Attribution

a. When using generative AI to produce or augment content, journalists must disclose its use to their audience. This transparency is crucial for maintaining trust in journalism.

b. Generative tools should never be used to invent quotations or fabricate statements.

c. All generated content should be clearly labeled as “Generated by [AI model name]” or similar, to ensure readers understand the source.

2. Verification and Fact-Checking

a. AI models can not be considered credible sources. Students must remain skeptical of information provided by AI and should always fact-check against bonafide credible sources before publishing.

b. Generative AI can provide a starting point or supplement to a story but should not be the ultimate source of information, especially on contentious issues.

3. Avoiding Deepfakes and Misrepresentation

a. Use of generative models like DALL·E to create images or multimedia content must be done responsibly. It’s unethical to use these tools to produce misleading or false representations.

b. Deepfakes or AI-generated visuals that could mislead or confuse the audience must be clearly labeled.

4. Editorial Independence

a. Journalists must maintain editorial control and independence. While AI can, in certain circumstances, suggest content or ideas, final decisions must be made by human judgment.

b. Journalists should be aware of and remain critical of any potential biases in AI-generated content.

5. Respect for Human Dignity

a. AI tools should not be used in ways that could demean, stereotype, or harm individuals or communities.

b. Care should be taken to avoid amplifying biases present in AI tools, and they should not be used to perpetuate stereotypes or misinformation.

6. Experimentation and Feedback

a. The Institute encourages experimental uses of AI in journalism, however, we all must balance innovation with responsibility.

b. Feedback loops should be established to report and rectify any issues or ethical concerns related to the use of AI.

In embracing the future of journalism, it’s essential to uphold the core values that have always defined this profession: truth, accuracy, fairness, and responsibility. This addendum to the ethics pledge aims to integrate the transformative capabilities of generative AI tools while ensuring that these principles remain at the heart of our journalistic endeavors.

NOTE: Graduate and undergraduate pledges should be returned to the designated boxes in the 6th floor reception area. The final grade for a student registered in a journalism course will not be submitted to the Registrar unless a signed pledge is on file in the Institute.