Digital First is coming up to its one-and-a-half year birthday. I thought I’d celebrate by releasing an ethics statement.
As the only news website dedicated to reporting on cloud software’s amazing transformation of business, Digital First has followed what I consider to be leading indicators of change.
The movement of accounting software to the cloud is one of those indicators. It shows the potential to revolutionise not just how businesses do their accounting but the type of services offered by the accounting profession itself.
Productivity software is another indicator. The shift from running your own physical server for storing files and emails to subscribing to Microsoft or Google’s cloud service will be just as profound.
There are winners and losers in any transformation which generates strong passions for and against change (even in accounting!). It is inevitable that a reader will occasionally disagree with the way a story has been written and suspect bias. This is natural and good – we should always evaluate information on any topic carefully, check sources and look for alternative viewpoints.
I haven’t been offered and will not accept any paid speaking engagements for companies that I cover. I have spoken in an unpaid capacity about Digital First’s perspective on the cloud software revolution at accounting software conferences (Xerocon 2012) and in a paid capacity at events held by industry associations and software companies I haven’t covered (eg, in engineering and architecture).
I have received free media passes to attend conferences (for Xero, Saasu, ATSA) so that I can report on them. Following industry practice, my travel and accommodation costs for attending these conferences are sometimes covered by the event organiser; in these cases this will be declared in articles written about the event.
I have consulted for two accounting software companies. I add disclaimers to any opinion articles I write about software companies that have paid me as a consultant.
Many of the cloud programs which I write about I use to run my own businesses. I pay full price for all of them (unless I’m using a free trial version).
My superannuation is held in an industry fund over which I have no control. I own no shares outside of my superannuation.
I have no plans to buy shares in the future and won’t be buying any technology stocks or other companies that I cover.
I have never served on any boards.
Beyond these policies, I also abide by the Australian Journalists Association’s Code of Ethics, now governed by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which can be found here. It’s quite interesting; I’ve pasted it below.
Media Alliance Code of Ethics
Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression.
Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities. Alliance members engaged in journalism commit themselves to
- Respect for the rights of others
1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
3. Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
4. Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
10. Do not plagiarise.
11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.
Basic values often need interpretation and sometimes come into conflict. Ethical journalism requires conscientious decision-making in context. Only substantial advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.