Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Can You Sell - er, Spell - Ethics?

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Can You Sell - er, Spell - Ethics?

Article excerpt

Early this month, the board of directors of the American Business Press will review and vote on an editorial Code of Ethics and Practices. I know this because I'm a member of the ABP's Editorial Committee, headed by Joe Cappo, senior vice president-international of Crain Communications.

Devising a code of ethics was a top priority when we began meeting last summer, and now, with members' help, editors, writers and reporters in the business-to-business publishing industry will have something to refer to when other industry members make demands or requests that cause pause.

Why bother? Because the credibility of magazine journalism is at stake. Print editors have been tarred with the same brush that swiped newspaper and broadcast journalists so hard--most recently in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky rumor-chasing debacle, and most notoriously with the circulation of Chrysler Corp.'s letters demanding notification of controversial editorial.

It leaves our readers wondering if they can believe most? some? not all? of what they read in our pages. Did an advertiser approve this article? Was the editor pressured to run this story? It reads like copy for the advertiser on page 10. Readers can judge for themselves the quality of a journalist's work. But can a publisher be so objective when a major advertiser has a complaint? Doubts and questions like these kill credibility, first with readers, then with advertisers themselves. …

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