A code of ethics is a set of guidelines which are designed to set out acceptable behaviors for members of a particular group, association or profession. Journalists, advertisers, and PR professionals each have their own separate code of ethics. These guidelines set by different professions are very similar to one another, but also have their differences in relation to their actual profession. In this blog, I am going to compare and contrast the different codes of ethics, discuss why there are differences given the professional roles, and why or why not all mass media should or should not operate under one code of ethics.
Some of the major points that are similar throughout all of the codes are: truth, honesty, accountability, fairness, respect and avoiding conflicts of interest.
The American Advertising Federation (AAF) says that advertising shall tell the truth, and not mislead the public. AAF also has honesty in its code of ethics. In my opinion though, truth and honesty are essentially the same thing. If an advertiser isn’t being truthful, then they aren’t being honest either. Same with PR professionals and journalists.
All of the codes of ethics expect their professionals to be held accountable for their own work. The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) code of ethics say that journalists shall admit mistakes and correct them promptly. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) also holds independence as a professional value saying that they are accountable for their own actions. Fairness, respect, and avoiding conflicts of interest are other values held throughout the different codes.
While most of these generalized and broad expectations of these different professionals are held throughout all of the different codes of ethics, there has to be some variances between them to adhere to the different jobs of the professions. For example, the American Marketing Association (AMA) values Citizenship in its code of ethics. Neither AAF, SJP,...