A compliment from David McKay, editor of Fin24.com; thanks, and a compliment is due to him and his team for taking ethics seriously. I still don’t think disclosure is enough – it doesn”t resolve a conflict of interest; it just reveals it, as the Poynter Institute’s David Steele has remarked – but it is better than not disclosing, and it is more than most of our other media organisations do.
The global financial meltdown has focused attention on the financial media as never before. And people are asking questions about journalistic ethics, everywhere. See, for example, this piece by Dean Starkman in the Columbia Journalism Review, and this report by Polis, a unit of the London School of Economics, both of whom take it for granted that journalists should not own stocks in companies on which they report. It seems that South African financial publication are way out of step here.
I know that our industry is relatively small, and that our financial media perhaps do not have the resources and clout to be as high-minded as some of the larger international organisations. Many American media organisations, including Bloomberg News, do not allow their journalists to accept gifts, trips or even lunch from contacts. Our media are far more forgiving of freebies. Yes, Bloomberg can do that because it has the money to pay for trips. Our media would argue that their journalists have to go on sponsored junkets because they couldn’t afford to send them otherwise.
But – integrity credibility is priceless.
And don’t even get me started on the subject of anonymous sources.