Exercising fairness means treating people as human beings, employing consideration and an effort to understand others, and not simply using them as a means to your own ends. The Golden Rule, which exists in similar form in many cultures, says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In other words, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and act accordingly. How would you feel as a grieving family member being interviewed after losing a loved one in a home fire? If you were a local business owner, would you appreciate being contacted for your side of a story on a new zoning ordinance that could seriously damage your business? Fairness in dealing with your sources and coworkers carries an added benefit: they will probably remember you and treat you equally well the next time around.

Although reporters are not obliged to give all sides of an issue equal length or depth of coverage in news stories, they strive for balance by presenting as complete a picture as possible based on the available information. This gives audiences the opportunity to hear all sides of the story so that they can reach their own conclusions.

For example, suppose you show up to cover a local school board meeting and find a group of parents out front protesting a proposed school closing.