Each year on Sept. 17, we celebrate Constitution Day in honor of the document that defines and outlines our nation’s system of government. Thanks to the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd from my home state of West Virginia, schools throughout the country must teach about the Constitution on or around this date.

The Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission has produced several resources for Constitution Day, including an online quiz that challenges users to consider hypothetical situations related to journalism ethics. After responding to the questions, users see video discussions of the answers provided by members of the SPRC. The quiz can be used long after Constitution Day to spark honest, thought-provoking conversations about journalism ethics.

You’ll spot me after the question about Facebook and sources. Because my iMovie skills are obviously rusty, I thought I’d share the transcript of my answer here.

So, a source wants to friend you on Facebook.

Don’t do it.

It’s hard to say no. But you must.


This person is a source.  You must maintain a professional relationship with the source, and keep your distance to protect your journalistic objectivity and integrity.

The distance between you and your source also helps to protect your publication’s credibility and independence.

This person is not your “friend.” He or she is your source. 

Now turn it around for a second. Do you really want this source to have access to YOUR private life? Facebook friendship goes both ways, you know.

By not accepting this source’s friend request, you’re acting in the best interests of both of you.

Tell the source it’s nothing personal. It’s journalism.

It’s not my finest video moment, but I believe it’s sound advice.