An interesting informal survey of 100 journalists and PR practitioners, most in the SF Bay Area, was conducted Lou of The State of the Media, showed that the ethical landscape of both professions is problematic.
According to Lou, out of the 25 percent of people that responded only one journalist said they followed the Ethics Code of the Society of Professional Journalists, one cites the Association of Business Publication Editors, one cited the Public Relations Society of America and one the National Union of Journalists in the UK.
Even scarier, only one of the people surveyed could give an idea of what these codes said and none of the PR pros could identify even one of the articles in the PRSA Code of Ethics. While some corporations cited internal codes, they didn't have them posted.
The bottom line here is that I fear we've come to a place where the professional communicators on both sides (PR and newsgatherers) have taken the issue of ethics so for granted that it no longer means anything.
An understanding and embracing of ethics is critical to the future of our profession. PRSA has a strong advocacy group that takes a stand on issues of importance to the credibility of public relations. However, it is only good if we know where the goalpost is for good behavior. Oh, and if we actually read the Code of Ethics and follow their direction.
Take a minute to read the PRSA Code of Ethics and the accompanying Advisories today.