I have recently had need to research the journalistic policies of The New York Times, specifically their rules on Ethics in Journalism as I was rebuffed using said policies as an excuse.  Special thanks to Linda Stephens who pointed me in the right direction.  She has a friend at NPR who shall remain anonymous who led us to the pertinent document.  Linda adds, “In all my travels as actress, in NY, Atlanta, Florida, Seattle, LA and Chicago, never ever have I experienced a theatre critic being involved in the production of a play in any capacity , until I came here. Sometimes a critic might take time off from reviewing, and become actively involved in theatre, but not while he’s reviewing.  It’s simply a conflict of interest.  One cannot be objective, which is the point of criticism. It’s not only unethical, it’s amatuerish.” 

It took me a while to get to the section that was pertinent to me query, but I must say that I find the document as a whole quite inspiring.  Click this link to read the whole document:

http://www.nytco.com/press/ethics.html#scope

The section I was looking for is reprinted here.  If you have any thoughts or comments on these rules, I would welcome them.

James Fletcher

Entertainment and the Arts

61. Staff members covering entertainment and the arts have a special duty to guard against conflicts of interest, real or apparent. Arts coverage, whether national or local, can often make or break reputations and commercial success. In theater, movies, music, art, dance, publishing, fashion and restaurants, critics and reviewers have an obligation to exert our newsrooms’ influence ethically and prudently.

62. Except in their published writing, reporters, reviewers, critics and their editors in the arts may not help others to develop, market or promote artistic, literary or other creative ventures. They may not introduce artists to agents, publishers, producers or galleries; chefs to restaurant owners; or designers to clothing manufacturers. They should refrain from unpublished commentary, even informal, on works in progress. They may not offer ideas or proposals to people who figure in their coverage or make investments in productions in their field. (Food writers and editors may not invest in restaurants.) They may not serve on advisory boards, awards juries or other panels organized by people who figure in coverage they provide, prepare or supervise. They may not accept awards from such panels.

63. An arts writer or editor who owns a work of exhibition quality (and thus has a financial stake in the artist’s reputation) may arouse questions about the impartiality of critical judgments or editing decisions. Thus members of the feature staff who collect valuable art objects (paintings, photographs, sculpture, crafts and the like) must annually submit a list of their acquisitions and sales to newsroom management. If the top news executive falls under this provision, the list should be provided to the chief executive of the business unit.

64. Our company recognizes that its staffs include talented members who write books, music and plays; create sculpture and paintings; and give recitals. It also recognizes that a writer requires a publisher, a playwright a production company, an artist a gallery. Such relationships, however, can give rise to the fact or perception of favoritism. Staff members who enter into such arrangements must disclose them to newsroom management, and when appropriate the staff members may be disqualified from covering those with whom they have dealings.

Also of interest:

127. Personal journals that appear on our official Web sites are subject to the newsroom’s standards of fairness, taste and legal propriety. Nothing may be published under the name of our company or any of our units unless it has gone through an editing or moderating process.

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