Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New ASBPE ethics code

Note: This post originally apeared on the ASBPE Boston Blog ("New ASBPE ethics code released").

ASBPE has released its new code of ethics, “ASBPE Guidelines for Preferred Editorial Practices.”

The revised code is the product of a six-month review of ethical issues by an ethics committee formed for the purpose. The committee includes six ASBPE officers as well as Jeffrey Seglin, a business ethics expert who writes the New York Times Syndicate's ethics column “The Right Thing.” The committee drew from numerous other ethics guides from journalism associations, B2B publishers, educators, and consultants. It also based the new code on the desires of ASBPE’s members, particularly as revealed in our ethics survey.

The new guidelines go into much greater detail than did the old guidelines, from November 2000. The latest guide also covers subjects not touched on by the earlier code, including graphics, research, trade shows, and contests.

Perhaps most important, the new guidelines advocate that B2B pubs publicize their ethics standards to internal staff, to readers, and to advertisers. Right now, very few business publications seem to publicize their standards outside their own companies. (As I mentioned in an earlier post, PC World is one of the few B2B pubs that does.)

The ethics committee will continue to monitor ethical issues and update the code as needed. The committee will also serve as a sounding board for editors who may raise ethical questions, and will continue ethics conversations though ASBPE’s online discussion forum (members only; login needed) and at conferences and chapter meetings. The committee’s contact information is here.

ASBPE releases new ethics guidelines from PaulConley
Quote: Now our rules on this have been made clear -- tell your readers as much as you can about the sources in your stories. Don't take shortcuts. Don't mislead. Don't say "sources said" when you mean "a source said."
Quote: The ASBPE guide doesn't address everything I would have hoped. For example, there is no clear requirement to label unedited press releases as press releases. Nor is there a call to do a better job of reporting on our own companies by ending the practice of running press releases from our own marketing departments as news (Note, the guide does call for "full attribution to sources," which I interpret as exactly the sort of call to clarity that I want B2B editors to embrace.)

Links to ethics and journalistic standards from the ASBPE

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