A journalist and former PR pro compares the industries’ ethical principles

The chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Ethics Committee sees plenty of common ground.

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But it was also an honor to have been asked to attend this famed Ethics Summit of 2005, because I was the only person in the room carrying the banner for journalism and newsrooms. Maybe that was an added sense of pressure.

A bit of background is needed.

I was serving as a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Ethics Committee when we received a request from the Public Relations Society of America to come to an ethics summit to discuss shared interests in maintaining and promoting the highest ethical standards in our professions.

Leaders in PRSA thought it would be helpful to talk openly about ethics with their counterparts in hopes of gaining a better understanding of how our principles were interwoven. It was something of an unusual request, for no other reason than it had never been made.

I thought it was a proposal worth pursuing. A small number of our committee was in agreement, but the majority (make that most vocal of the majority) didn’t see it that way. They saw no commonly shared principles and, therefore, no commonly shared interest in participating.

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