By: Dave Astor

Effort Spurred In Part By ‘Phantom Menace’

Add feature editor guidelines to the r?sum? of “Star Wars” creator George Lucas.

Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But it was Lucas’ efforts to control the timing of

reviews and stories about 1999’s “Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace” that helped

spur the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors (AASFE) to approve guidelines on

editorial independence and ethics.

“This is the first time this group has ever had guidelines on this,” said AASFE President and

Houston Chronicle Features Editor Jane Marshall.

The guidelines, passed unanimously at the AASFE’s 54th annual convention in New York

recently, consist of 10 clauses. One discourages feature editors and writers from engaging in

“fanlike behavior,” such as requesting autographs. Two that address Lucaslike control efforts


o “Editors will plan coverage according to the dictates of their news judgments and shall not be

obliged to disclose schedules, deadlines, run dates, coverage plans, or story play to any
outside source or resource in exchange for access.”
o “Should any editor receive threats of censure, withdrawal of access, or any other signs of

so-called ‘punishment’ by an outside source or resource in connection with the reporting,

scheduling, or cancellation of any review or feature, such threats should be brought to the

attention of the AASFE president and arts and entertainment committee chair.”

Dave Astor (dastor@editorandpublisher.com) is a senior editor at E&P.

Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher.

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