USA – Society of American Business Editors and Writers (2002)

Code of Ethics of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, published 9 December 2002.

Statement of Purpose: It is not enough that we be incorruptible and act with honest motives. We must conduct all aspects of our lives in a manner that averts even the appearance of conflict of interest or misuse of the power of the press.

A business, financial and economics writer should:

1. Recognize the trust, confidence and responsibility placed in him or her by the publication’s readers and do nothing to abuse this obligation. To this end, a clear-cut delineation between advertising and editorial matters should be maintained at all times.

2. Avoid any practice which might compromise or appear to compromise his objectivity or fairness. He or she should not let any personal investments influence what he or she writes. On some occasions, it may be desirable for him or her to disclose his or her investment positions to a superior.

3. Avoid active trading and other short-term profit-seeking opportunities. Active participation in the markets which such activities require is not compatible with the role of the business and financial journalist as disinterested trustee of the public interest.

4. Not take advantage in his or her personal investing of any inside information and be sure any relevant information he or she may have is widely disseminated before he buys or sells.

5. Make every effort to insure the confidentiality of information held for publication to keep such information from finding its way to those who might use it for gain before it becomes available to the public.

6. Accept no gift, special treatment or any other thing of more than token value given in the course of his professional activities. In addition, he or she will accept no out-of-town travel paid for by anyone other than his or her employer for the ostensible purpose of covering or back-grounding news. Free-lance writing opportunities and honoraria for speeches should be examined carefully to assure that they are not in fact disguised gratuities. Food and refreshments of ordinary value may be accepted where necessary during the normal course of business.

7. Encourage the observance of these minimum standards by all business writers.

Addendum to Code of Ethics
Guidelines to insure editorial integrity of business news coverage:
1. A clear-cut delineation between advertising and editorial matters should be maintained at all times.

2. Material produced by an editorial staff or news service should be used only in sections controlled by editorial departments.

3. Sections controlled by advertising departments should be distinctly different from news sections in typeface, layout and design.

4. Promising a story in exchange for advertising is unethical.

5. Publishers, broadcasters and top newsroom editors should establish policies and guidelines to protect the integrity of business news coverage.

Cautions on Use of Non-Journalists with Conflicts of Interest in the Subject Matter
Using articles or columns written by non-journalists is potentially deceptive and poses inherent conflicts of interest that editors should guard against. This does not apply to clearly labelled op-ed or viewpoint sections or “Letters to the Editor.”

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