Society of American Business Editors and Writers: Code of Ethics

Statement of Purpose:

As business and financial journalists, we recognize we are guardians of the public trust and must do nothing to abuse this obligation.

It is not enough that we act with honest intent; as journalists, we must conduct our professional lives in a manner that avoids even the suggestion of personal gain, or any misuse of the power of the press.

It is with this acknowledgment that we offer these guidelines for those who work in business and financial journalism:

Personal investments and relationships:

  • Avoid any practice that might compromise or appear to compromise objectivity or fairness.
  • Never let personal investments influence content. Disclose investment positions to your superior or directly to the public.
  • Disclose personal or family relationships that might pose conflicts of interest.
  • Avoid active trading and other short-term profit-seeking opportunities, as such activities are not compatible with the independent role of the business journalist.
  • Do not take advantage of inside information for personal gain.


  • Insure confidentiality of information during the reporting process, and make every effort to keep information from finding its way to those who might use it for gain before it is disseminated to the public.
  • Do not alter information, delay or withhold publication or make concessions relating to news content to any government.

Gifts and favors:

  • In the course of professional activity, accept no gift or special treatment worth more than token value.
  • Accept no out-of-town travel paid for by outside sources.
  • Carefully examine offers of free-lance work or speech honoraria to assure such offers are not attempts to influence content.
  • Disclose to a supervisor any offer of future employment or outside income that springs from the journalist's professional activities or contacts.
  • Accept food or refreshments of ordinary value only if absolutely necessary, and only during the normal course of business.

Editorial Integrity:

  • Publishers, owners and newsroom managers should establish policies and guidelines to protect the integrity of business news coverage.
  • Regardless of news platform, there should be a clear delineation between advertising and editorial content.
  • Material produced by editorial staff should be used only in sections, programming or pages controlled by editorial departments.
  • Content, sections or programming controlled by advertising departments should be distinctly different from news sections in typeface, layout and design. Advertising content should be identified as such.
  • Promising a story in exchange for advertising or other considerations is unethical.

Using outside material:

  • Using articles or columns from non-journalists is potentially deceptive and poses inherent conflicts of interest. This does not apply to content that is clearly labeled opinion or viewpoint, or to submissions identified as coming directly from the public, such as citizen blogs or letters to the editor.
  • Submissions should be accepted only from freelancers who abide by the same ethical policies as staff members.


  • Business journalists should take the lead in adapting professional standards to new forms of journalism as technologies emerge and change.

The business journalist should encourage fellow journalists to abide by these standards and principles.