I just landed in Columbus, Ohio, to join members of the Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Committee in updating the organization’s influential Code of Ethics.
I’m tired (waking up at 3:30 a.m. = yuck), but excited. Most all our discussion so far has been on email. It’s the best we could do at a distance, but it’s made our conversations been siloed and staggered.
Tomorrow, thanks to travel grants from SPJ, 12 of us are finally coming together to continue the work in person. Here’s the agenda. And the whole meeting’s going to be live-streamed starting at 9 a.m. Saturday right here.
I got involved in the code update last fall, when SPJ Ethics chair Kevin Smith asked me to put together a subcommittee of journalists from more digitally native news organizations to submit ideas to the larger committee.
It’s a perspective I care about that the committee wanted to incorporate, so I was happy to help — and thrilled when some seriously great digital journalists could joined in. Laura Amico, founder of Homicide Watch; David Cohn, editor at news app Circa; Becky Bowers, reporter at PolitiFact; Craig Silverman, media reporter at Regret the Error; Tracy Record, editor of the hyperlocal West Seattle Blog; and Steve Buttry, formerly digital strategist at Digital First Media dove in and we sent back a document in November.
You can see the digital subcommittee’s recommendations here, and download the larger committee’s second draft of a proposed update here.
See a few spots where one’s inspired the other? It’s pretty cool.
There have been some tough debates about what the code should ultimately look like. Should it lean toward more prescriptions or principles? Which best practices should it elevate to ethical themes? How does an ethics code best serve an information world that’s exploded so massively that anyone, at any time, can be a journalist?
It’s all a work in progress, and I’ll be tweeting from tomorrow’s all-day meeting. Follow #spjethics to see what we’re up to.
And please please please — join us.