The Debate Continues: Society of Professional Journalists Has Tables for Another Year, Another New Proposed Code of Ethics for the Organization

By Fitzgerald, Mark | Editor & Publisher, October 28, 1995 | Go to article overview

The Debate Continues: Society of Professional Journalists Has Tables for Another Year, Another New Proposed Code of Ethics for the Organization


Fitzgerald, Mark, Editor & Publisher


NOTHING, IT SEEMS, fires up the Society of Professional Journalists like a no holds barred debate about an ethics code.

So, faced with the choice of sticking with their current code or adopting a new one, SPJ delegates at their recent annual convention in St. Paul Minn., decided to table the proposed code -- and debate it until they meet again in Washington next year.

As the occasionally intense arguments over four days in St. Paul suggest, the society will have plenty to talk about.

All of the divergent views that emerged when the society adopted its most recent code in 1987 remain.

Some members want a very specific and practical code -- others want a poetic creed that "sings" and inspires.

Some want a code that includes specific penalties for ethics violations -- others want the document's moral suasion to speak for itself.

And some -- in a society that adopted its first canon of ethics in 1926 and revised the code in 1973, 1984 and 1987 -- want no ethics code at all.

"I believe there are many people like me who believe adopting a code of ethics is dead wrong," said Dayton (Ohio) Daily News editor Max Jennings. "A code of ethics that is unenforceable means nothing. And if it is unenforceable, why have it?"

SPJ ethics debates tend to be fairly raucous affairs, and at St. Paul it was apparent that some participants walked away feeling hurt and insulted.

Yet something there is in SPJ that loves an ethics argument -- and many delegates threw themselves into the discussion with zest.

"We ought to [revise the ethics code] every two years," said jay Black of the University of South Florida. "It's a grueling but helpful process. What we're trying to do is rearticulate what it means to be a journalist, which is a difficult thing to do in a time of cyberspace and everything else."

This year's ethics controversy began more than nine months ago when the ethics committee on its own decided to draft a revised code that would more closely follow the spirit of an ethics guidebook SPJ published in 1994.

"It was believed that the code itself needed to evolve into something more contemporary," said Kevin Z. Smith, Miami (Ohio) University professor who chairs the ethics committee. "There was a feeling it should be more positive rather than ... a negative type of code."

The revision that emerged from the committee tends to be far more succinct than the current code. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Debate Continues: Society of Professional Journalists Has Tables for Another Year, Another New Proposed Code of Ethics for the Organization
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.