Journalism Ethics and Your Artwork

journalism act independant

I come out of publishing.  Years ago I worked as the Assistant to the Publisher at a paper in Washington DC called Federal Computer Week.  Our fearless leader, Fritz Landmann, held all of us to the highest ethical standards.  He explained the difference between the advertising side of any publication, and the editorial side and how important it was to have unbiased writing on the editorial side for a publication to have any integrity, for their audience to trust what is written.  Which means, the advertisers where never allowed to influence the editorial.  I’ve always taken this to heart.  I like ethics and integrity.

How does this relate to art?

There is an writer in Los Angeles, who is the “editor and chief” of his own blog, which is about the arts in Los Angeles.  He has interviewed me twice, both times ending the interview with stories of how other artists had given him artwork.  He wanted me to give him something, he stopped very short of asking me for a piece outright.  The first time I thought it could be a fluke, the second, I realized I had just wasted hours of my time, the price of breakfast and had been slimed, not once, but twice.  It compromises my integrity, just being asked.  And if he were to write an article, what value would it have?   I would have paid for it.  His actions throws into question, everything he has written about, and sadly, the integrity of the artist, by association.


Bill Murray in Ghostbusters
Bill Murray in Ghostbusters


It’s been well over a year since the last interview, and despite his taunts, tweeting out my name as someone he will write about, there has been no article, thankfully.

Recently I asked another artist, whom he interviewed, if he had asked her for art.  Indeed he had, using the same tactic.  This was very recent.

There is a discussion of whether blogs should operate with Professional Journalism Standards.  Any thoughts?  In my opinion, if you call yourself a magazine,  and you give the impression you are operating as a journalist, you should be held to these standards.

Did you know about these ethical standards for journalists?  Has this ever happened to you as an artists?  If so, what are your thoughts?  If not, what are your thoughts?

I believe a good way for this person to start redeeming himself and his online blog/magazine, would be to return every piece of artwork he has taken as a gift from the artists he has written about, or interviewed, to start.

Here is a link for a PDF from the Society of Professional Journalists about Journalism Ethics.  and a link for the site from which it came.

One of the 4 tenets of Ethical Journalism:

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.
Journalists should:  Avoid Conflicts Of interest, real or perceived.
Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
Refuse Gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment,and shun secondary employment,political involvement,public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money;avoid bidding for news.

(taken from the Society of Professional Journalism Ethics PDF.)



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