Ethics on the Beat: An Analysis of Ethical Breaches Across News Beats from 1999 to 2019

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This article examines press ethics across different news beats. Traditionally, studies of news beats have focused on the development, output or routines of a particular news beat, but few studies have focused on press ethics. In Denmark, the debate on press ethics began in the 1930s and has often focused on the crime beat. Today, the “Advisory rules of sound press ethics” apply to all content produced by leading news media and are under the supervision of the Press Council. We analyse rulings from the Press Council from 1999 to 2019 to investigate if and how breaches of press ethics differ across news beats. We find that out of 3406 complaints, 764 have led to rulings that criticise specific news media for ethical violations. We code each violation according to news beat, finding that breaches most often concern the business beat, the crime beat, and the health and social beat. We also find that the types of ethical breaches differ across beats. Thus, the most common breach within the business beat is not following up on a ruling from the Press Council, whereas the most common breach in crime reporting is the unnecessary identification of persons mentioned in crime stories.

TidsskriftJournalism Practice
Udgave nummer9
Sider (fra-til)1383-1399
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - 2021


  • business reporting
  • crime reporting
  • ethics
  • Journalism
  • news beats
  • press councils

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