The findings come months after another B-to-B publishing group, American Business Media, released a revised Editorial Code of Ethics. The ABM's code mainly addressed issues concerning the separation between advertising and editorial policies and practices, but the ASBPE survey revealed other ethical concerns are weighing on the minds of business magazine editors.
The survey was sent to 360 business-to-business magazines with ASBPE members on staff. Responses came from 157 members, a 43.6 percent response rate to a 39-question online survey.
Among the publications that have their own formal code of ethics, editors at nearly a third of them said that their publication or company "only sometimes" supports the editors when they take an ethical stand. Among editors whose publications lack a formal code, 47 percent said that their organization backs them up "only sometimes." The remaining 53 percent said their companies support them on such issues.
The results and prevailing attitudes revealed in the survey reflect a preponderance of ethical issues currently affecting the consumer press. Over the past few years, newspapers, magazines, and television networks all have been beset by ethical dilemmas including plagiarism, fabrications, and reporters accepting payments from people and organizations they cover.
Based in Wheaton, Ill., ASBPE is a trade association for editors and writers who work on business, trade, association, and professional print magazines and newsletters and their associated Internet publications. It has more than 700 members and chapters in 14 cities nationwide.