Narrative literary journalists, ethical dilemmas, and ethics codes
Jones, Kim E. Pewitt
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This study discusses ethical dilemmas that journalists face when they transition from journalistic feature writing to narrative literary journalism and the written and unwritten ethical codes they use to guide them through ethical dilemmas. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics doesn’t provide adequate guidelines for narrative literary journalists. Narrative literary journalists must use different methods than news journalists to gather information for their stories, which present them with different ethical dilemmas than conventional journalists face. Therefore, a different professional code for narrative journalists is needed to help guide them. This study explores how five experienced narrative journalists have developed an internal moral code based on virtue ethics and existential journalism. This code comes from their professional and personal experiences as well as from their professional, and personal mentors. Although they do not rely on a written professional code, there is a need for a written code to help them resolve some of their ethical challenges and to guide inexperienced narrative journalists.