Ethics Guidelines

  1. The newspaper pays its staffer’s way for travel, accommodations, food and drink.
    1. If a staffer travels on a chartered team plane, the newspaper should insist on bring billed. If the team cannot issue a bill, the amount can be calculated by estimating the cost of a similar flight on a commercial airline.
    2. When services are provided to a newspaper by a pro or college team, those teams should be reimbursed by the newspaper. This includes providing telephone, typewriter or fax service.
  2. Editors and reporters should avoid taking part in outside activities or employment that might create conflict of interest or even appearance of a conflict.
    1. They should not serve as an official scorer at baseball games.
    2. They should not write for team or league media guides or other team or league publications. This has the potential of compromising a reporter’s disinterested observations.
    3. Staffers who appear on radio or television should understand that their first loyalty is to the paper.
  3. Writers and writers’ groups should adhere to APME and APSE standards: No deals, discounts or gifts except those of insignificant value or those available to the public.
    1. If a gift is impossible or impractical to return, donate a gift to charity.
    2. Do not accept free memberships or reduced fees for memberships. Do not accept gratis use of facilities, such as golf courses or tennis courts, unless it is used as part of doing a story for the newspaper.
    3. Sports editors should be aware of standards of conduct of groups and professional associations to which their writers belong and the ethical standards to which those groups adhere, including areas such as corporate sponsorship from news sources it covers.
  4. A newspaper should not accept free tickets, although press credentials needed for coverage and coordination are acceptable.
  5. A newspaper should carefully consider the implications of voting for all awards and all-star teams and decide if such voting creates a conflict of interest.
  6. A newspaper’s own ethical guidelines should be followed, and editors and reporters should be aware of standards acceptable for use of unnamed sources and verification of information obtained other than from primary news sources.
    1. Sharing and pooling of notes and quotes should be discouraged. If a reporter uses quotes gained secondhand, that should be made known to the readers. A quote could be attributed to a newspaper or to another reporter.
  7. Assignments should be made on merit, without regard for race or gender.

Guidelines can’t cover everything. Use common sense and good judgment In applying these guidelines in adopting local codes.


Mary Byrne

Mary Byrne


Tommy Deas

Tommy Deas

First Vice President
The Tuscaloosa News

Todd Adams

Todd M. Adams

Second Vice President
San Diego Union-Tribune

Jack Berninger

Jack Berninger

Executive Director
Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Sponsoring a student through APSE’s new Student Outreach Initiative is a great way to give back to the organization and the future of sports journalism. APSE President Gerry Ahern calls on APSE members to recruit and sponsor one college student as a member of the organization. The students can come from your alma mater or your coverage area. The $25 fee will give the students access to the minds and events that will shape the future of sports journalism.