There are many code of ethics these days. Not only in media professions, but also in many companies. I think it is a good idea to have these codes of ethics. Sometimes people get into some sticky situations and it is nice to have reference, like a code of ethics to look at in those times. I believe these codes should be more like guidelines, and do not need to be taken to the extreme in making sure people follow them. For journalists, in particular, a lot of the codes are common sense. They just reiterate what journalists already know. Like we have a responsibility to report the news, well yes we do because that is our job. They also say things like tell the truth, well we have a responsibility to do that, we do not necessarily need a code of ethics to tell us that. But in case you find yourself in a sticky situation, it is nice to have a code to fall back on.
Codes of ethics for journalists started in the early 1900's. But they became much more specific in the 1970's. There are separate codes for different types of journalists. For example there is a print code, radio code and TV code. But there are also all encompassing codes that cover all the bases.
One question we have to ask about these codes is who makes them? Who has the authority and the morals to write a code that everyone is supposed to follow? Well codes were first made because media organizations were afraid that if they did not make the code, the government would. But more often than not, it is a group of professionals who get together to make a code. This is the best way to do it in my opinion. To gather people who have worked in the field and been in some ethically straining positions would be the best people to write a code. The Society of Professional Journalists is a good example of a group of professionals getting together to make their code. Their code can be found at: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp