Rate Your Company's Editorial Ethics

By Howard Rauch, ASBPE Ethics Committee Chairman
Is your editorial ethics house in order? A new self-scoring profile suggests loopholes that may need closing. Distributed during a presentation at ASBPE’s digital “Boot Camp” held July 18 in New York, the profile consists of ten statements that invite either a “Yes” or “No” response. Most of the situations posed have come under review by ASBPE’s Ethics Committee and/or been discussed at recent editorial ethics workshops.

  1. We have a written ethics policy describing advertiser relationships. ___
  2. Our editorial ethics policies are posted on our Web site. ___
  3. Articles based on original research accurately describe methodology and level of response. We will not publish information based on inadequate return. ___
  4. When interviewing editorial recruits, we present an honest picture of personal and financial growth. ___
  5. When our publication participates in advertorials, content must meet editorial standards for accuracy even though pages are clearly marked as purchased space. ___
  6. We don’t take bylines on articles that are merely rewrites of press announcements. ___
  7. We have policy guidelines for all contributing editors in which we caution them that submissions must be plagiarism-free. ___
  8. In all sponsored webinars, the publisher–not the editor – fills moderator role. This is especially critical if the moderator is expected to deliver commercials. ___
  9. If we sponsor product excellence awards, advertisers and non-advertisers have an equal chance of being selected as finalists. ___
  10. We have a written checklist covering key elements of article accuracy. ___

The above list is identified as a “pioneer version” because I expect to revise it based on input from the membership. In theory, all the above matters would be covered as part of your company’s written policy . . . if you have one. In the event you would like help formulating a policy or revising existing documents, ASBPE’s Ethics Committee is studying the possibility of offering that service. For information on our current ethics advisories, contact me: ethics@asbpe.org.

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