Monday, April 09, 2007

Ethics and awards

There are few things in journalism I find as absurd or as dangerous as the notion that publishing on a computer screen rather than on a piece of paper exempts us from the norms of ethical behavior. Yet it seems that nearly every day someone makes exactly that claim.
Consider, if you will, the case of Bambi Francisco at MarketWatch. Francisco has left her job after it became clear that she had violated the ethical standards of parent company Dow Jones. And although I have no intention of defending Francisco's actions, it should be pretty clear that she was given "permission" to turn her back on the ethics guidelines by her boss, who has said "the rigid rules of the past may not always apply to the new media."
(For more on the Francisco scandal, check out what Matthew Ingram and Staci Kramer have to say.)

If I have accomplished nothing else in writing this blog, I would like to think that I've helped to remind the world of B2B journalism that the rigid rules of the past do apply to new media. Or, as I've said in earlier writings and in public appearances, "the rules haven't changed online, and you shouldn't let them."

So it pleases me to see that the American Society of Business Publication Editors has been named to the Folio 40 list for having "put together one of the most comprehensive editorial ethics guidelines for online."
Folio magazine is correct: "few organizations have tackled the subject of online ethics as thoroughly as the American Society of Business Publication Editors did in the May 2006 release of its updated ethics guide." I congratulate ASBPE for the honor. And I applaud Folio for naming the association to the Folio 40.

(Disclosure One: Bambi Francisco and I worked together briefly at CNNfn, the financial news network of CNN, which now exists only as CNNMoney. I don't remember her well. And she may not remember me at all. But in the time we worked together, I thought of her as both professional and ethical.
Disclosure Two: Longtime readers may remember that I began urging ASBPE to update its ethics policy roughly two years ago. The first reference I can find to that call is in this post from July 2005. And thus I feel some pride in ASBPE's accomplishment. To read my reaction to the new guidelines in May of last year, click here.)

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