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February 3, 2005
Op-Ed Writers Conference To Promulgate Ethics, Accuracy Standards

Linda Seebach, columnist for the Rocky Mountain News, tips CQ that the National Conference of Editorial Writers has been discussing ethical concerns and accuracy standards in light of some high-profile editorial errors. (I don't know if she reads the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, but this is what Linda and the NCEW has in mind.) The president of the NCEW sent this message out to all of their members and authorized it for publication:

I am pleased to announce that NCEW has set up a task force on syndicates to seek answers to our questions of ethics and corrections. Heading up the panel is Jerry Ausband, retired editorial page editor of Myrtle Beach.

The task force will contact all of the syndicates to go over questions that have been raised on this groupserv and elsewhere. This will allow us to compare how syndicates are set up to deal with issues like those that have come to the forefront this year and also ascertain how we can be effective in correcting factual errors.

Among the questions:

How do you screen columnists and editorial cartoonists?

Do you have an ethics policy?

What policy do you follow if contracted columnists/cartoonists violate standard journalism ethics (regardless of where you have an individual ethics policy)?

Do you have a fact-checking process for columnists? How does it work?

When editorial writers or editors find a factual error in a column or
cartoon, what effective means can be used to communicate that error and have a correction made?

Kay Semion
NCEW President

Congratulations to Kay Semion, Jerry Ausband, and the NCEW for stepping forward and demanding some accountability for accuracy and ethical behavior from op-ed columnists and editorial writers. Once they create their recommendations, the media's customers should demand that all outlets adopt them as policy for their opinion sections, and not just the syndicates, but also for their own in-house editorial boards. Those who fail to publicly adopt such standards should be outed by their readership and the blogs.

Keep an eye out for the NCEW to see the new recommendations, and get ready to demand action.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 3, 2005 10:22 PM

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