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Ethics Committee

Code Words: SPJ’s Ethics Committee Blog
– Social Media’s Place in the Society’s Ethics Code
– Unveiling a New Code
– Ethics Code Revision: Our Third Draft

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
E-mail
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
303/829-4647
E-mail
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.



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Home > Ethics > Reading Room

SPJ Reading Room: Archives

June 2014
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

April 2014
• Quill: Citizen Code
• Quill: From the President
• Quill: Generation J Toolbox
• Quill: Guidelines on Anonymous Sources
• Quill: Revising the Code of Ethics: What’s going on?
• Quill: Says Who?
• Quill: Ten with Liz Wahl

February 2014
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

December 2013
• Quill: Digital Media Toolbox
• Quill: Diversity Toolbox
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: Ten with Samantha Grant

October 2013
• Quill: From the President
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

September 2013
• Quill: When Race is Relevant
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

July 2013
• SPJ News: Seattle Times editor wins SPJ ethics award

June 2013
• SPJ News: SPJ calls on Attorney General to uphold government’s own media guidelines
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

May 2013
• SPJ News: SPJ president denounces Connecticut’s attempt to cover up public information about Newtown shootings

April 2013
• SPJ News: SPJ expresses concern for student media at Central Michigan
• SPJ News: Community college reverses action on student newspaper; SPJ approves
• Quill: Case Study: Naming Victims of Sex Crimes
• Quill: Case Study: The Pirates and the Press
• Quill: Drone Journalism: Is Resistance Futile?
• Quill: Ethics Case Studies
• Quill: What's Your Personal Code of Ethics?
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• SPJ News: Winter should not be compelled to reveal sources

February 2013
• Quill: From the President
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

December 2012
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

November 2012
• Quill: Love of Many Kinds: A Journalist's View of Conflicting Responsibilities During the Israel-Gaza Conflict

October 2012
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

September 2012
• SPJ News: SPJ president writes NYPD police commissioner to address journalist arrests at Occupy Wall Street protests
• SPJ News: Sonny Albarado installed as SPJ president
• SPJ News: Nine SPJ chapters recognized for exceptional programming
• SPJ News: Northern California Pro, St. Louis Pro named SPJ Chapters of the Year

August 2012
• SPJ News: SPJ president asks Red and Black chairman for further action
• SPJ News: SPJ recognizes strong ethical practices on New Orleans news website
• SPJ News: SPJ displeased with University of Memphis over student newspaper funding cuts
• Quill: Chapter News
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: Freelance Toolbox

June 2012
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: Member Profile - Sarah Stuteville

April 2012
• Quill: Chapter News
• Quill: Ethics Position Papers
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: From the President
• Quill: Member Profile - Jerry Roberts
• Quill: On the Ground: Ethics in Haiti
• Quill: Ten with Jim Asendio

February 2012
• Quill: Quill at 100
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: Freelance Toolbox

December 2011
• SPJ News: SPJ Ethics Committee releases first in series of position papers
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: When Bad is Good: 10 Improbable Champions of the First Amendment

October 2011
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

August 2011
• Quill: Diversity Toolbox
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

July 2011
• SPJ News: SPJ applauds ABC for new checkbook journalism policy

June 2011
• SPJ News: SPJ Ethics Committee decries checkbook journalism – again – with news coverage of Casey Anthony
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: Letters to the Editor

April 2011
• Quill: Gone But Not Forgotten: Ethics Guidelines From Phil Record
• Quill: 21st-Century Journalism Requires 21st-Century Code
• Quill: Diversity Toolbox
• Quill: Education Toolbox
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: Generation J Toolbox
• Quill: Keeping Up With Changing Terms
• Quill: Should SPJ Update the Code of Ethics?
• Quill: The Current Code is Inclusive and Flexible
• Quill: What-Who-Why-How: Using SPJ's New Ethics Book

February 2011
• SPJ News: SPJ: Remember ethics in wake of fake phone call with Wisconsin governor
• Quill: Digital Media/Generation J Toolbox
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

December 2010
• Quill: Letters to the Editor - feedback on Helen Thomas awards
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• SPJ News: SPJ statement on ethical journalism in response to latest WikiLeaks release

October 2010
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

August 2010
• SPJ News: SPJ honors Bill Shory with Ethics in Journalism Award
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

June 2010
• SPJ News: SPJ gives grants for programs that bring the press and the public together
• Quill: Ethical Negotiations - Talking it Through
• Quill: The Great Balancing Act

May 2010
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox - May/June 2010

April 2010
• SPJ News: SPJ Ethics Committee opposes letting sports team cover itself
• Quill: Coded Controversy
• Quill: From the President - March/April 2010
• Quill: Ten with Kelly McBride
• Quill: The Scientology-St. Petersburg Times Quagmire Continues
• Quill: What is News in the Age of Blog and Tweet?
• Quill: White, Black and Missing on Twitter

March 2010
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• Quill: Freelance Toolbox
• SPJ News: SPJ Ethics Committee condemns major broadcast networks’ practice of “checkbook journalism”

January 2010
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox
• SPJ News: SPJ cautions journalists: Report the story, don’t become part of it

December 2009
• SPJ News: NBC News' 'checkbook journalism' crossed ethical line
• Quill: Chapter News Briefs
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

October 2009
• Quill: Kentucky chapters host program on Rick Pitino rape allegations
• Quill: President's Column

August 2009
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

July 2009
• Quill: Ethics Toolbox

May 2009
• SPJ News: Ethics Committee: News council should abandon 'virtual hearing'
• Quill: 'They' say? Who says?

April 2009
• Quill: 10 with Bob Steele
• Quill: Restoring the public’s faith in news media credibility
• Quill: Reviving fairness in journalism

March 2009
• Quill: Facebook blurs the lines of friendship

January 2009
• Quill: Be accountable to your public

December 2008
• Quill: Naughty and nice, and bowl games' proper names
• SPJ News: SPJ calls on NBC to rectify lack of disclosure of analyst’s conflicts of interest

November 2008
• Quill: Celebrating 100 years of SPJ
• Reading Room: Sigma Delta Chi Foundation Makes an Impact with Some Out-of-the-Box Thinking

September 2008
• SPJ News: SPJ Ethics Committee Highlights Journalism Highs and Lows From Past Year

August 2008
• Quill: ‘An Opportunity Lost’
• Quill: Learning ethics as a second language
• SPJ News: Groups express concern over media’s partnerships with health organizations
• SPJ News: SPJ honors Glen Mabie with Ethics in Journalism Award
• Quill: Ethics: Fundamentals should still apply, even in digital age

July 2008
• Quill: The Pentagon’s handmaidens

June 2008
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders appalled by Pennsylvania court action

May 2008
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders express concern over Pentagon’s military domestic propaganda operation
• Quill: Keeping The Faith
• Quill: Plagiarism: Do we really understand it?
• SPJ News: SPJ to launch Citizen Journalism Academy in Chicago

March 2008
• Quill: $11,125 doled out for Ethics Week programs
• Quill: A Congressman's Past
• Quill: A Media-Savvy Killer
• Quill: Adherence to ethics key to restoring faith
• Quill: Brown-bag Ethics
• Quill: Copperating With The Government
• Quill: More debates better for electoral process
• Quill: Offensive Images
• Quill: The Sting
• SPJ News: Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists appoint Scott Maben to national board
• Quill: Ordinary assignment teaches frightening lesson

January 2008
• SPJ News: Postmark deadline approaching for Sigma Delta Chi Awards competition
• Quill: Suicide coverage doesn't have to be taboo

December 2007
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders endorse letter supporting Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007
• SPJ News: Call for entries announced for SPJ’s New America Award

November 2007
• SPJ News: Call for entries announced for annual Sigma Delta Chi Awards competition
• Quill: Ethical questions that bother us so
• SPJ News: SDX Foundation gives $20,000 to Oakland journalism collaboration

October 2007
• SPJ News: Letter to 5th District Judge James Shumate regarding KUTV Reporter Katie Baker
• SPJ News: Society of Professional Journalists signs letter opposing Department of Interior commercial filming proposal
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders call FEMA-staged news briefing an abuse of public trust
• SPJ News: Denver Press Club Designated Historic Site in Journalism
• SPJ News: SPJ commends Commercial Appeal journalists for stance against news sponsorship
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders call arrests of Village Voice Media executives ridiculous, unnecessary
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders praise House Representatives for passing the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007
• SPJ News: Entangled journalists discuss ethical implications of Scooter Libby trial, CIA leak
• SPJ News: Former White House press secretaries discuss a day in the life
• SPJ News: NBC News president to discuss Virginia Tech massacre
• SPJ News: SPJ honors Betsy F. Ashton with 2007 Wells Memorial Key Award
• SPJ News: Washington Post editor speaks about future of the news business
• SPJ News: Watergate legends discuss historical media event during 2007 SPJ convention
• SPJ News: Baghdad bureau chief discusses war during Q&A with veteran press corps reporter Helen Thomas
• SPJ News: Panel debates need for federal shield law that would protect journalists, sources
• SPJ News: USA Today editor says journalists must teach public about the duty of the press
• SPJ News: White House press reporters debunk lap dog myth
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders elated over federal shield law’s passing by Senate Judiciary Committee
• Reading Room: The bad and the ugly: An examination of ethical lapses of the past year

September 2007
• Quill: Documentary captures real-life journalism
• SPJ News: Society of Professional Journalists honors professional chapter excellence
• SPJ News: SPJ to host panel on federal shield law
• SPJ News: Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak to discuss CIA leak, Scooter Libby trial
• Quill: Easy to report, easy to forget

August 2007
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders encourage journalists to cover sponsor logos on NFL media vests
• Quill: Anonymous Web posts should be curtailed
• Quill: Reporting on Disabilities: Putting People First

July 2007
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders urge NFL, sponsors to uphold journalistic integrity
• Reading Room: DC Chapter honors journalism legends at annual dinner
• Quill: Covering tragedy with compassion

June 2007
• Reading Room: Drawing the line between the press and the source
• SPJ News: SPJ leaders respond to MSNBC.com’s investigative report concerning journalists’ political contributions, offers journalism ethics resources
• SPJ News: SPJ Supports S. 595, the Toxic Right -to-Know Protection Act
• Reading Room: When to Name Names

May 2007
• Reading Room: SPJ Profile: Croatian journalist and professor Dorde Obradovic
• SPJ News: Letter to The Honorable Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
• Reading Room: The call before the call
• Quill: Ethics: Just say ‘no, thank you’
• Reading Room: Federal shield would protect public's right to know

April 2007
• SPJ News: Finalists named in 57th annual Green Eyeshade Awards
• Reading Room: Stereotypes reflect lazy reporting
• SPJ News: Josh Wolf freed from federal prison, SPJ leaders are pleased
• Quill: Advocating for home
• Quill: Cable TV loses way with celebrity ‘news’
• Quill: Foundation and SPJ to address public perception of the media
• Quill: Getting to the source
• Quill: Meet your new ethics committee chairman
• Quill: SPJ always working to improve ethics

March 2007
• SPJ News: SPJ Legal Defense Fund grant aids photographer’s defense
• Quill: When the audience does the reporting

February 2007
• SPJ News: SPJ urges Connecticut officials to drop charges against photographer
• SPJ News: SPJ defends jailed journalist at rally
• Quill: Caught up in the chase
• Quill: Maine media introduced to New England News Forum

January 2007
• SPJ News: SPJ, Student Press Law Center partner to support Grambling State journalism students

December 2006
• SPJ News: Letter to Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, RE: Bipartisan Caucuses
• SPJ News: Remarks to Federal Communications Commission, Nashville, Tenn.
• SPJ News: Society of Professional Journalists president-elect offers public comment at FCC hearing
• Quill: Newspaper works to include blogging in code of ethics

October 2006
• Reading Room: Asking right questions a key to minimizing harm
• Reading Room: Censor or Be Sacked
• Reading Room: Daily Dilemma
• Reading Room: Did sexual abuse story cross the line of fairness?
• SPJ News: Letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter regarding CNN punishment
• Reading Room: SAD Formula can turn happy ethical results
• SPJ News: SPJ urges Rep. Duncan Hunter to withdraw his Pentagon request to punish CNN
• Reading Room: When is a subject's criminal background relevant?
• Quill: Ethical debates heat up with JonBenet Fever

September 2006
• Quill: Journalist suspended for leading gay-rights parade

August 2006
• SPJ News: SPJ honors Fred Brown with Wells Memorial Key award
• SPJ News: SPJ honors Santa Barbara journalists with Ethics Awards
• SPJ News: SPJ Honors Allan M. Siegal with Ethics in Journalism Award
• Quill: Share your ethical cases so everyone can learn

June 2006
• Quill: The watchdog goes ARF: An Internet survival guide
• SPJ News: SPJ president commends news organizations’ decision to expose secret banking surveillance activities
• SPJ News: Media Expulsion From Guantanamo After Suicides Inappropriate, Counterproductive
• SPJ News: SPJ Letter to Kansas City Royals and Commissioner Bud Selig Urges Reinstatement of Radio Personalities’ Credentials
• SPJ News: Letter to UN Secretary General, Kofi A. Annan

May 2006
• SPJ News: Government tracking of reporters’ calls “outrageous, frightening”
• Quill: Asking right questions a key to minimizing harm

April 2006
• SPJ News: SPJ condemns careless use of video news releases
• SPJ News: Ethics Week Web site provides resources, activities to guide responsible journalism

March 2006
• Quill: Daily Dilemma
• Quill: Letting sources check your story can be a good thing
• Quill: News councils a good way to restore public trust
• Quill: To Print or Not To Print
• Quill: Why SPJ doesn't enforce its code of ethics
• Quill: SAD Formula can turn happy ethical results

February 2006
• SPJ News: Danish Cartoon Coverage Should Be Guided By SPJ Code of Ethics

January 2006
• Quill: Did sexual abuse story cross the line of fairness?
• Quill: SDX to fund 16 ‘Ethics Week’ programs
• SPJ News: Society of Professional Journalists calls for national debate on sale of Knight Ridder newspapers

December 2005
• SPJ News: Society of Professional Journalists criticizes radio station’s sale of naming rights
• SPJ News: SPJ denounces Pentagon’s use of canned news in Iraq
• Quill: Ethical Firestorm
• Quill: Studies: Americans are tuning out traditional news

October 2005
• SPJ News: Sinclair should be ashamed of suit against journalist it fired
• SPJ News: SPJ president urges ethical behavior in newsrooms
• Quill: Getting involved is better than ‘stony detachment’

August 2005
• Quill: Push for more news councils sparks debate, controversy
• SPJ News: SPJ Joins in Criticism of Editorial Cartoon

June 2005
• Quill: Anonymous sources needed, but must be used with caution

December 2004
• SPJ News: Beverly Kees Fund for Journalism Established to Perpetuate Her Work

October 2004
• SPJ News: SPJ Supports Sinclair Washington Bureau Chief's Courageous Stand
• SPJ News: 2004 SPJ Convention Resolutions

September 2004
• SPJ News: CBS embarrassment illustrates the dangers of anonymous sources
• Quill: On-the-job training

July 2004
• SPJ News: SPJ News Commentary: Think `news value’ when considering coverage

May 2004
• Quill: Balancing accuracy with independence

April 2004
• Quill: Can we get election calls right this time?

March 2004
• SPJ News: SPJ objects to bogus news reports and their use by TV newsrooms
• Quill: Ethics calls apply widely
• Quill: ETHICS IN-BRIEF

February 2004
• Quill: ETHICS IN-BRIEF
• Quill: Keep grudges out of news coverage

December 2003
• Quill: Anonymity hurts reporters and politicians
• Quill: Ethics IN-BIEF

November 2003
• Quill: Ethics IN-BRIEF
• Quill: Start planning for Ethics Week now
• SPJ News: SPJ calls on news media to maintain clear separation of news and advertising

May 2003
• SPJ News: Ethics, not ethnicity, at heart of Blair plagiarism accusations, SPJ says

April 2003
• Quill: New directions in ethics

June 2001
• SPJ News: SPJ Urges Ethical Reporting of First Family's Personal Lives

November 2000
• SPJ News: SPJ Ethics Committee Says Hasty Coverage of Election Violated Ethics Code

June 2000
• SPJ News: Just what would you give (or give up) for that story?

April 1999
• SPJ News: Media face pressures in covering breaking news

June 1998
• SPJ News: Press Credibility Study Leaves Journalists With Much to Consider
• SPJ News: Ethics code endorsement sets stage for vote

October 1995
• SPJ News: Society tables ethics revision vote

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