New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute has launched a journalism ethics initiative that will expand existing resources for students while also conducting research and providing thought leadership on emerging ethical issues.
“All of our students as well as the wider community of journalists will benefit from this deeper immersion in the difficult ethical issues that we face,” says Stephen Solomon, professor of journalism and director of the Carter Journalism Institute.
The Ethics and Journalism Initiative, backed by a $395,000 grant from OpenAI, will be led by Stephen Adler, who served as editor-in-chief of Reuters from 2011 to 2021.
“As trust in the media declines, and advances in technology pose fresh challenges, practicing journalism ethically is more important than it’s ever been,” Adler observes. “That’s why it’s so fitting that NYU, whose journalism program is a leader in ethics education, is hosting this initiative. I’m looking forward to working with faculty, students, and the journalism community to make our work as valuable as possible.”
The initiative also includes $50,000 in support from the Carter Journalism Institute’s Journalism Venture Capital Fund, which provides startup capital for faculty projects that address challenges in journalism, democracy, freedom of expression, and related areas.
New ethical challenges facing the profession include those associated with privacy, political campaigning, disinformation, and technological advances.
“OpenAI is committed to ensuring that artificial intelligence is both beneficial and safe, and we welcome independent research, workshops, and discussions to help ensure a positive role for AI in the news industry,” says Tom Rubin, OpenAI’s Chief of Intellectual Property and Content and a longtime board member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “We are excited about the potential of the new Ethics and Journalism Initiative and very pleased to support its goal of addressing a broad array of challenges journalists face when striving to practice their profession ethically and responsibly, especially those related to the implementation of AI.”
In particular, as reporters practice their craft, they face financial pressures that prioritize monetizable traffic at the expense of journalistic decision-making, the growing use of AI tools that may threaten both accuracy and news judgment, and tensions surrounding coverage of marginalized communities and cultures.
To address these and other concerns, the Ethics and Journalism Initiative will bring leading thinkers and practitioners to campus for workshops and discussions, which will also include Carter Journalism Institute faculty. Future research projects will explore the frontiers of journalism ethics, including the relationship between journalism and technology. In addition, the institute’s students will have access to one-on-one guidance as they learn to navigate complex ethical dilemmas—a supplement to the program’s existing required ethics course.
During Adler’s tenure at Reuters, the news agency won eight Pulitzer Prizes. He also served as editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek and deputy managing editor at the Wall Street Journal, where he co-taught the ethics and standards course required for news employees. Adler is chairman of the board of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and is a member of the boards of the Columbia Journalism Review and the Committee to Protect Journalists.