The SPJ Code of Ethics is a cornerstone of the organization, and after the Excellence in Journalism conference, it will most likely be getting an update.
SPJ delegates will vote Saturday afternoon on the final draft of the revised Code of Ethics. The updates, which have taken a year and three rounds of revisions, aim to bring the code into the present. The last code was released 18 years ago in 1996.
So, what’s changing?
The new changes focus on updating the code to reflect the current state of journalism. This accounts for changes in technology, particularly social media. Accordingly, the updates focus on how the values spelled out in the Code of Ethics are present in the way journalism operates today.
Some of the most notable changes include:
– Language changes to reflect emerging journalism types, such as citizen journalism and entrepreneurial journalism.
– Transparency measures, such as labeling of advocacy journalism.
– Addition to code regarding speed versus accuracy, noting that time pressure is not an excuse for lack of effort in gathering correct information, including on social media.
You can read through a marked-up first version of the changes, as well as a summary sourced from the SPJ Ethics Committee blog. The most recent draft after the third round of revisions can be found here.
How do changes like these get made?
The possibility of changing the Ethics Code first emerged in 2010, when Kevin Smith, former president of the SPJ Ethics Committee, was asked to return to his previous post.
Serious discussions about revising the code heated up this year, and in June, the first version was drafted in a closed meeting.
Since then, there have been three rounds of revisions in all and periods of accepting input from SPJ delegates. The SPJ Executive Board has made efforts to make the meetings surrounding the changes collaborative, including live streaming meetings.
The final vote on the Code of Ethics draft will take place at a meeting beginning at 3 p.m. on Sept. 6, where 200 delegates will vote to accept – or reject – the proposed code.
Is the process transparent?
This is a subject of debate. The EIJ News team hit the conference hallways to get opinions regarding the new Code and the process by which the code was updated.
The argument against
Although there have been concerns over the wording of the proposed code, most of the controversy has surrounded the process rather than the code itself.
Michael Koretzky, a national board member and the director of SPJ’s Region 3, has been a vocal opponent of the changes to the code of ethics.
The argument for
Matthew Hall, a national SPJ board member, however, says the process has been more transparent than not.
What are your thoughts on the updates to the change in the Code of Ethics? Do you think the process was transparent? Let us know what you’re thinking at @EIJ_News.
September 5, 2014 • 2014: Nashville