Editors face a number of ethical dilemmas. Below are a number of links to readings and websites that address the kinds of ethical considerations every editor should be aware of.
“Ethics Codes” – Pew Research Journalism Project
An expansive list of ethical guidelines from various news organizations worldwide. As stated on the page: “These include specific news outlets, parent news companies, and trade associations working in different media.” Essential information for anyone working within journalism and the news media.
“Publishers Say Fact-Checking Is Too Costly” Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg – The Wall Street Journal – Jan 30, 2006
Although a several-years-old controversy, the Frey incident continues to raise questions for those in the field of editing and publishing. This article reveals how publishers might weigh the cost of fact-checking manuscripts against the risk of simply issuing an apology, and choose the latter as a lesser evil. The question here may be about money, what is practical, and the short attention span of a culture that finds diluted truth in memoir acceptable and exciting.
Code of Ethics of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors
General advice regarding the responsibilities of editors.
“Fighting plagiarism and fabrication” – American Copy Editors Society
An e-book and PowerPoint presentation discussing the twin problems of plagiarism and fabrication.
“Ethics for editors—with Mary Schendlinger” – Iva Cheung’s Blog
Discusses six broad ethical considerations for editors including responsibilities to the earth, the profession, writers and artists, confidential sources, other stakeholders, and society.
“James Frey on QTV” – YouTube Interview (2008)
In this interview Frey is promoting his new novel which combines fictional narrative with interspersed “facts” of which Frey admits “most” are true. He remarks that his choice to play with facts may be a “wink” or a “middle finger” to readers, and he ponders who has the right to make the rules. He claims that as a writer he can do whatever he wants because it’s his work, but this is after admitting he can’t talk much about the controversy of A Million Little Pieces because of legal constraints, the result of seventeen lawsuits brought against him in the United States. When expanding on the ways he went about building facts into his new novel, he mentions that if there was a fact he couldn’t find, he “made it up,” and if a statistic wasn’t what he thought it should be, he changed it.
“Professional Editorial Standards” – Editors’ Association of Canada
Detailed guide to editorial responsibilities including the fundamentals of editing, structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, proofreading, with references.
“A Short Guide to Ethical Editing for New Editors” – Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)
A thorough 8-page guide for editors of journals detailing editorial relationships and accompanying responsibilities, transparency of the submissions process, the reviewing process, and the handling of editorial misconduct. Substantial resources and references provided.
“Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors” – Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)
An official 11-page document detailing the editorial code of conduct for editors, especially those of peer-reviewed journals. From their website, COPE is described thus: “The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) was established in 1997 by a small group of medical journal editors in the UK but now has over 9000 members worldwide from all academic fields.”
“Ethical Issues Faced by Editors and Reviewers” by Deborah E. Rupp. Management and Organization Review 7:3 (2011): 481-493.
A scholarly article which considers the ethical problems attending the editors of scientific peer-reviewed journals, such as: insuring fair desk rejections, providing feedback, and upholding the spirit of double-blind review. (Blind review is when authors do not know the reviewers; double-blind review is when neither the reviewers nor the authors know who one another are.)