A number of years ago, I took the Christian Writers Guild correspondence course called What's Your Story. I recently read through my homework looking for article ideas, and I came across an answer to a question about journalistic ethics. I would like to share it with you now (with some modifications to fit this format).
The Society of Professional Journalists has a code of ethics built around honesty, respect, independence, and accountability. Those are my shorthand terms for the four main ethical obligations imposed by the Society's code. For a complete copy, go to http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp.
These four points don't merely complement my values as a Christian writer: they are my values as a Christian writer. Here are Bible verses (from the New International Version) to go with each of them.
Honesty. "Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." 2 Corinthians 4:2
Respect. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29
Independence. "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10
Accountability. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing, and perfect will." Romans 12:2Because we are Christians, we supplement these four points with a fifth.
Faithfulness. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2Actually, faithfulness should come first. If we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow him, the other four will come naturally. Since we are still sinners, however, our eyes wander on occasion, and we do need to be reminded to write with honesty, respect, independence, and accountability.
If we follow these five principles, our writing will honor God. And that's the point, after all.
Kathryn Page Camp