A special task force has been working on a new ethics code in recent months, revising the document that has guided the society's membership for over 50 years. A new code is being drafted, according to SPJ, "to help reporters know what to do and what to avoid as they do their work."
"At a time when the public seems increasingly alienated with the press, it is more important than ever for us to have a code of conduct that gives journalists guidance on how to conduct themselves," said SPJ national president Reginald Stuart, who is assistant news editor in the Washington bureau of Knight-Ridder Newspapers. "More and more journalists are seeking advice on what's wrong and what's right," Stuart added. "It's not that simple. But in an era of blurring identities and values, revisiting this code is timely and appropriate."
In reviewing the task force's progress, the directors recommended separating enforcement from principles in the code, added language to cover plagiarism and sought greater sensitivity in using children as sources. In the months before SPJ's annual convention, to be held Oct. 11-14 in St. Paul, the task force will survey members and chapter presidents and publish a draft in the Quill, the society's magazine. Conventioneers will discuss the code during a special session, and a final proposal may be presented to SPJ delegates.
The board also approved the following:
? A proposal to give the Pulliam Editorial Fellowship greater visibility by presenting the honor at a fall dinner at the National Press Club in Washington and publishing the work of the fellows, once completed.
? Spending $5,000 to continue a legal battle in Utah, where Orem city officials have refused to follow the state's open-government law.
? A capital expenditure of up to $30,000 to acquire a new telephone system to improve communications between SPJ headquarters and chapters.
? Granting membership to seven new chapters.
By: Editorial Staff AT ITS APRIL meeting, the Society of Professional Journalists board recommended revisions in the SPJ ethics code, approved a $1.58-million budget and laid out a schedule of intensive professional development programs.