Since I wrote about business journalism ethics last week, quite a lively debate has ensued around the topic. A report today by Business Day’s Michael Bleby reveals an astonishing fact: one the country’s two business dailies, Business Report,has no code of ethics for for business journalism, and the other, Business Day, has one but doesn’t enforce it. In comparison, Fin24.com’s policy of disclosing its journalists’ financial interests – while not guaranteed to eliminate conflicts of interests – seems a paragon.
It is all well enough to argue that your newspaper has a particular “ethos” that encourages ethical behaviour, as Business Day’s head of training Paddi Clay does. But as a reader, I’d like to know where I stand. An ethos doesn’t do it for me.
How can I ever trust a stock tip in either of those newspapers if I have no way of knowing whether the reporter is talking his book? And what would the editor of Business Report do if his journalists punted stocks they owned? He has no policy against it.