DEAR READER: Journalist's Creed serves as reminder of values, standards

Saturday, October 12, 2013 | 4:50 p.m. CDT; updated 12:39 p.m. CST, Friday, November 15, 2013

The Journalist’s Creed was written in 1914 by the founding dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. A century later, Walter Williams’ declaration remains one of the clearest statements of the principles, values and standards of journalists throughout the world.

Williams also founded what was then known as the University Missourian. A portion of his creed runs each day on the editorial page of the Missourian’s print edition. It is engraved in a plaque on the wall of the Missouri Press Association building on Eighth Street and hangs at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.


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The creed is reprinted in full in honor of National Newspaper Week, which ended Saturday.

The Journalist's Creed

I believe in the profession of Journalism.

I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of lesser service than the public service is a betrayal of this trust.

I believe that clear thinking, clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.

I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true. I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one's own pocket book is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another's instruction or another's dividends.

I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.

I believe that the journalism which succeeds the best-and best deserves success-fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent; unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power; constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of the privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance, and as far as law, an honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship, is a journalism of humanity, of and for today's world.

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Ellis Smith October 13, 2013 | 7:54 a.m.

That's a fine creed, Tom.

Several professional groups have statements of conduct, even engineers. These too are good, and we should hope that all those who are members of a respective profession strive to live up to them.

That said, I have come to the conclusion, in my old age, that there should be one UNIVERSAL credo for ALL professions.

This credo already exists and has existed for a long time in the medical profession: "FIRST, DO NO WRONG."

Even an engineer can memorize that admonition. :) The question then becomes whether or not all profesionals can live up to it.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates October 13, 2013 | 5:33 p.m.

Not going to find old Missourian papers and count; but, seems to me there is a dearth of anything positive about conservative viewpoints and an overwhelming number of liberal viewpoints. Guess this is serving the best interest of the readers. From an editorial viewpoint, that is.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates October 15, 2013 | 7:27 p.m.

@Ellis: The creed "do no wrong" starts with mom and dad...agree?

(Report Comment)

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