New Communications Blogzine Explores Ethical Issues Discovers Similarities Between Shona Seifert’s Code of Ethics and that of Advertising Federation of Australia

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The latest issue of New Communications Blogzine (http://www.newcommblogzine.com) focuses on the topic of ethics in professional communications and the impact of new communications tools on ethical considerations. One article explores a newly proposed code of ethics for the advertising industry, developed by Shona Seifert, the Ogilvy & Mather executive convicted of fraud. Seifert was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and was instructed to write a code of ethics for her profession.

– The latest issue of New Communications Blogzine (http://www.newcommblogzine.com) focuses on the topic of ethics in professional communications and the impact of new communications tools and practices such as blogging, citizen journalism and word of mouth marketing (WOMM) on ethical considerations.

In the issue published on September 13, 2005, contributing writer and attorney Elizabeth Fletcher explores a newly proposed code of ethics for the advertising industry, developed by Shona Seifert, the Ogilvy & Mather executive convicted of fraud. Seifert was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and the judge also instructed her to write a code of ethics for her profession. Her assignment was completed and given to the judge earlier this month, and was first written about in Ad Age magazine. Fletcher and the editors of New Communications Blogzine found Seifert’s “new code” to be strikingly similar to that of the Advertising Federation of Australia (AFA).

“Has Seifert really learned a lesson about ethics? And why does her Code of Ethics seem to mirror another code of ethics already in circulation?” asks Fletcher in her article.

“The topics, verbiage and examples in those portions we examined of the two codes were almost identical," commented NewComm Blogzine’s editor and publisher, Jen McClure. “And, although Seifert acknowledges the AFA as one of many sources on the last two pages of her paper, she neither quotes nor attributes specific content to the AFA.”

For example:

The AFA's Code states, "We should be courageous and state what we think, irrespective of our position in our agency or within our industry."

Seifert writes, "If you believe something is wrong, you have the responsibility to say so, regardless of your position in the company or industry."

The AFA offers, "Don't tell lies. Don't hide the truth. Speak up."

Seifert: "Don't duck the difficult issues. Don't hide the truth." (Note, too, "Speak up" is the title of Seifert's first point.)

The AFA: "Discuss it with your colleagues and bring it to the attention of management."

Seifert: "Discuss the issue with your colleagues and bring it to the attention of management."

The AFA's example, "To witness sexual misconduct and do nothing about it is unethical."

Seifert's example, "To witness sexual misconduct and do nothing about it is wrong."

And, finally, “Every day we can be faced with ethical dilemmas,” states the AFA Code. “These guidelines will help you do the right thing. Ethics can’t be imposed. They have to grow from within each of us. And be understood by all of us.”

Seifert writes, “”Each of us faces ethical dilemmas and each of makes choices. Ethics can’t be imposed upon the advertising industry. They need to be understood and internalized by all of us.”

“We found the number and the depth of the similarities to be quite interesting and ironic given the circumstances,” noted McClure. “We provided links to both documents in their entirety and asked our readers to compare the two and draw their own conclusions.”

The article and the two codes can be read at http://www.newcommblogzine.com/?p=230.

In addition to this exploration of advertising ethics, New Communications Blogzine features an article by Matt Galloway about WOMM ethics and the new code developed by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Kathy Klotz-Guest provides a commentary on "Marketing Ethics in Times of Disaster," examining how the media and celebrities dealt with the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. The issue also provides links to resources addressing codes of ethics for bloggers and online journalists, and explores the controversial marketing practice of paid bloggers. The publication also regularly features new product reviews and technology announcements, the latest industry news and research, a case study and whitepaper repository, a podcast directory, industry events and job listings.

About New Communications Blogzine

New Communications Blogzine is an online publication dedicated to exploring new communications tools, technologies and emerging modes of communication, (including blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, search marketing, etc.), the growing phenomena of participatory communications and their effect on traditional media, professional communications, business, politics and society at large. For more information or to subscribe, visit http://www.newcommblogzine.com or call (650) 331-0083.

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Jen Mcclure
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