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Walter Williams' Journalist's Creed in the 21st Century

In 1908, a long-term Missouri newspaper editor named Walter Williams became the founding dean of the world's first university school of journalism.  It was an historic development in the emergence of a profession we now call journalism.  Just as important in the development of this profession was a statement of principles and standards that Williams wrote for this new profession.

His The Journalist's Creed became the bedrock statement of vision and principle that journalists throughout the world, in many different languages, can recite from their hearts.

Click here for a printable version of the creed in different languages.

As the Missouri School of Journalism prepared to celebrate its centennial, the school's senior faculty member, Phill Brooks, asked the new generation of journalists how this creed relates to the 21st century of new technologies, market demands and societal expectations:


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 their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.

I believe that clear thinking and 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 pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another's instructions 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 the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.

I believe that the journalism which succeeds 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 privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and 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.