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SPJ Code of Ethics
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Other Codes of Ethics

Codes of Ethics History
Coded Controversy [Quill, April 2010]
1926 Ethics Code [PDF]
1973 Ethics Code [PDF]

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Code Words: SPJ’s Ethics Committee Blog
– Ethics Code Revision: Final Draft
– Ethics of covering suicides
– Social Media’s Place in the Society’s Ethics Code

Ethics Committee
This committee's purpose is to encourage the use of the Society's Code of Ethics, which promotes the highest professional standards for journalists of all disciplines. Public concerns are often answered by this committee. It also acts as a spotter for reporting trends in the nation, accumulating case studies of jobs well done under trying circumstances.

Ethics Committee chair

Kevin Z. Smith
Deputy Director
Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism
Bio (click to expand) Kevin Z. Smith has been a member of the SPJ ethics committee for 20 years. He is a contributing author to two of SPJ's Doing Ethics in Journalism case study books. He is the co-author of SPJ's 1993 Ethics Manual, a guide for developing better ethical discussions and practices in newsrooms. He served as chairman of the ethics committee from 1995-97 when the Code was revised by the committee. He is serving his fifth year as committee chairman. He is a former president of SPJ (09-10) and a former member of the national and executive boards (06-11). He has been a member of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation since 2007. He has been a regular speaker, panelist and lecturer on journalism ethics and delivered talks around the United States and abroad since 1990.

Smith currently serves as a journalism lecturer at the University of Dayton (Ohio). He worked in community newspapers in West Virginia for 15 years before becoming a college professor. He has taught at West Virginia University, Miami Univeristy (Ohio), Fairmont State University (W.Va.) and James Madison University (Va.). In 2009 he was named a Distinguished Mountaineer by the governor of West Virginia, the highest honor bestow upon a citizen of the state. The award came largely from his work with SPJ and journalism ethics.

Fred Brown, vice chair
2862 S. Oakland Ct.
Aurora, Colo., 80014
Bio (click to expand) picture Fred Brown is a former national president of SPJ (1997-98) and is very active on its ethics committee. He writes a column on ethics for Quill magazine and served on the committee that wrote the Society’s 1996 code of ethics.

Brown officially retired from The Denver Post in early 2002, but continues to write a Sunday editorial page column for the newspaper. He also does analysis for Denver’s NBC television station, teaches communication ethics at the University of Denver, and is a principal in Hartman & Brown, LLP, a media training and consulting firm. He has won several awards for writing and community service, including a Sigma Delta Chi Award for editorial writing in 1988. He is an Honor Alumnus of Colorado State University, a member of the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame, and serves on the boards of directors of Colorado Public Radio, the Colorado Freedom of Information Council and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

Home > Ethics > Ethics Code Revision Project > Code Revision timeline

Ethics Code Revision Project
Code Revision timeline

August 2013

– Aug. 2: SPJ's Ethics Committee began collecting public feedback on state of current code.
– Aug. 25: Town Hall discussion on possible revision at EIJ13.

September 2013

– SPJ President David Cuillier directed the SPJ Ethics Committee to solicit feedback and craft an update that SPJ delegates could consider at EIJ14 in Nashville.
– A digital subcommittee was formed to provide input on the code revision.

January 2014

– After recruiting the code revision working group (made up of committee members and other experts) and accepting feedback for four months, Ethics Committee chairman Kevin Smith divided the group into four groups, each responsible for taking first crack at a corresponding section in the code: Seek Truth and Report It, Minimize Harm, Act Independently and Be Accountable.

March 2014

– Group work was compiled into a first revision.

March-May 2014

– The revision was discussed (and comments were encouraged) at various SPJ Spring Conferences around the country.

May-June 2014

– Ongoing outreach for members and non-members to comment on the first revision. Methods of outreach include (but are not limited to) Twitter chats, social media messages, internal SPJ communications, press releases and more.

June 30 2014

– Deadline for first comment period.

July 3, 2014

Second revision released.

July 11-13, 2014

– Working group will meet in person to distill all comments and update the latest draft. Meeting will be streamed live, comments will be accepted during the meeting.

August 2014

– Working group will present latest draft to SPJ board and others for feedback.
– SPJ's board of directors will meet to discuss the latest draft and make possible recommendation to EIJ14 delegates. They also hope to garner feedback on the draft from ethics experts and ombudsmen outside of SPJ.

September 2014

– SPJ members will be asked to cast non-binding, advisory votes during the election processes to gauge satisfaction with the latest revision.
– A session will be conducted during EIJ14 in Nashville to solicit more input.
– At EIJ14, the delegates will have the opportunity to approve the final draft, not approve it, approve it with amended changes, consider other versions, or postpone consideration for further review and discussion. The board and president will take direction from the delegates if further discussion or action is necessary.

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