SPJ Board endorses ethics code draft revision

Next week SPJ delegates will discuss whether to revise the Code of Ethics at EIJ14 in Nashville, and the Board endorses approval of a draft revision developed over the past year.

During a recorded Skype meeting Aug. 20, the Board discussed the draft code for an hour and a half  (see Skype meeting online, along with text discussion).

The Board voted to remove the line “Be cautious about reporting suicides that do not involve a public person or a public place.” Members also debated including an additional line encouraging caution in dealing with anonymous online comments, but it was not approved by the full board. There was quite a bit of conversation about a variety of topics, which can be viewed online.

The final tally of the Board vote was 11 in favor of the revised code (Brett Hall, Neuts, Hernandez, Gallagher-Newberry, Albarado, Hallenberg, Fox, Matt Hall, Tallent, Kopen Katcef, Fletcher), 4 against (Cook, Koretzky, Schotz, Corry), and 1 abstention (Sheets). Also, see analysis by Region 2 Director Andy Schotz, who proposed several amendments.

The Board’s recommendation is only advisory. Members also will get to vote online on whether they think delegates should approve the revision. Ultimately, it will be up to delegates in the closing business session 3-5 p.m. Sept. 6. They can approve the proposed draft (which delegates can change next week), turn it down, or continue discussions for the next year.

In addition to the ethics code discussion last week, the Board also approved, unanimously, the creation of a Digital Community. Stay tuned for more information about that from incoming President Dana Neuts!

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  • Dana Neuts, SPJ pres-elet

    Speaking for myself, not the board, I am pleased to see the “final” Code of Ethics revision. A lot of hard work went into this over the past year, and we could continue to work on it for another year or another 10 years. It will never be perfect, and we could line edit all day long, but ultimately, this is a great body of work that SPJ and the Ethics Committee and work group can be proud of. I anticipate that members of SPJ and its delegates will suggest minor tweaks, but I hope we can agree that this is a good, solid Code that will guide journalists in their work, as past versions have done. I support the Code and hope the delegates approve it.


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