Spring Suptic, Kansas City ASBPE Chapter President, was named chair of ASBPE’s Ethics Committee last week. Formerly heading the committee was ASBPE’s Immediate Past President Roy Harris. One of Roy’s primary accomplishments during his tenure was breathing new life into ASBPE’s Ethics Code as part of a ethics initiative that began in mid-2005.
ASBPE’s Ethics Code now addresses several Web-related ethics dilemmas. Perhaps more importantly, the new code contains a continuing review mechanism that hadn’t existed before–including the establishment of a standing committee to address new issues that arise. The ASBPE Ethics Code links to other codes and encourages other publications to adopt their own ethics guidelines or to adhere to ours. In any event, ASBPE urges business, trade, and association publications to publicly note that they adhere to some ethics code.
The results of ASBPE’s ethics initiative have been encouraging. Over the past two years, ethical issues like the use of hypertext links to news stories on Websites (which is not a practice that follows ASBPE’s guidelines) were brought to the ethics committee’s attention. Some magazines actually dropped hypertext links after the committee announced that the practice was not sanctioned by ASBPE’s ethics guidelines. Roy Harris, the chair of the committee was quoted in a few publishing industry articles about hypertext links. Also, because the guidelines were so effective, and widely discussed, ASBPE was honored for them by Folio: magazine last year.
Fortunately, Roy will remain as a member of the ethic’s committee. The committee includes Jeff Seglin, a journalism ethics expert who produces “The Right Thing” ethics column for the New York Times. Rounding out the committee are Past President Paul Heney, Past Vice-President Portia Stewart, and Associate Director Robin Sherman.