Best Practice Guides


In journalism, best practice guides for reporting specific topics are standards and methods to ensure that reporting is ethical. As journalists, we often enter communities which we know little about, even with good intentions, the way we represent those groups can maintain stereotypes and/or cause harm.  You will need to seek out and employ best practice guidelines, especially when working with vulnerable groups such as children or minorities. You will convert these best practices into your ethical approach to your project form/production brief. Here are a few to get you going…

Interviewing & filming children

It’s quite common for IMMJMA students to work with children. When filming or interviewing children it’s essential to respect and protect them. If you will be working with children, read the guidelines below and ensure that you speak with your tutor before you go into the field.

You should seek the consent of the parent or guardian and be sure that a responsible adult is present.  Let the child know what you are doing and that they should feel comfortable to answer or not answer any questions. Keep checking in with them to ensure they are comfortable. Do not interview children with trauma.

“Guiding Principle: The guiding, overarching principle is that due care must be taken over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under 18 who take part in or are otherwise involved in programs, from initial approach to transmission and beyond.” – Channel 4

Resource guides focus on coverage of mental health

There’s a ton of resources included in this article:

On nearly a daily basis, journalists find themselves covering stories about crime and violence in their communities. When reporters starting looking for the “why” behind the story, they sometimes discover the people involved have a history of behavioral health problems, including mental illness and substance abuse.

Advocates say it is important for journalists to avoid stereotypes when covering these issues, and report fairly and sensitively about those affected. RTDNA links to several resources to aid in developing coverage.

Style guide helps journalists report on disabilities

The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University has developed a style guide for journalists who report or write about people living with disabilities. We have included a link to the guide under the training tab on the website for easy reference.
The guide offers information and advice on commonly used words or terms, from “able-bodied” to “confined to a wheelchair.” In addition, the guide provides a brief background on each word or term and touches on instances in which disability organizations disagree on usage. It also notes whether or not the word or term is addressed in The Associated Press Stylebook. Two-thirds of the entries in the NCDJ guide are not covered in the AP Stylebook.
Along with the guide, the NCDJ also has created a companion piece, “Terms to Avoid When Writing About Disability.” The article offers advice to communicators on why they should avoid using terms such as “epileptic fit” or “senile” and directs them to more neutral language.

The NCDJ was founded in 1998 in San Francisco as the Disability Media Project to raise awareness of how the news media cover people with disabilities. The organization was renamed in 2000 and moved to the Cronkite School in 2009.

NCDJ’s disability style guide is available on the organization’s website or as a printable PDF at

Concealing Identity when filming or photographing

Occasionally it may be necessary to protect the anonymity of the people you document. Here are some tips from Witness

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