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The News Corp. Code of Conduct

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011

News Corp., the Rupert Murdoch company now embroiled in the "News of the World" scandal had a 56-page code of conduct, but instead of helping employees do the right thing, it may actually have been a hindrance.  In an article for The Daily Beast, David A. Graham interviewed a group of ethicists about the deficiencies of News Corp.'s code.  He writes:

"Corporate codes, once a hallmark of the most responsible companies, have become at once more common and less meaningful, says Kirk Hanson, who directs the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Many companies have adopted codes specifically for instances such as lwhat News Corp. faces now—so executives can point at them and then wash their own hands.

“This is a compliance document without an inspirational set of values,” Hanson says. “The only value statement that it looks like is in this document is, ‘We treat each other fairly and with respect, establishing a high trust environment where people can do their best work.’ That’s totally inadequate. That doesn’t say anything.”

"For years, Hanson says, Johnson & Johnson’s “Credo” was a model—instead of just proscribing certain activities, it was a positive statement of the company’s values. Successful codes offer an informal set of moral guidelines."

Tags: codes of conduct, journalism ethics