Who Really Needs a Code of Ethics?

What do you think? Should we need a code of ethics if everyone lives by the golden rule?

We’d like to congratulate Bruce Reynolds for being celebrated Monday night at the City Council meeting by Councilwoman Mary Jo Barton for his outstanding public service to the Muncie community. Bruce serves as the Director for Delaware County Senior Citizens Center at Forest Park. He’s done an incredible job serving the senior community and is well deserving of this recognition.

As Bruce accepted his plaque from Mrs. Barton he addressed the crowd and shared emotional words of wisdom he received from his father – “Always treat others as you would want to be treated.”

The Golden Rule. If you’ve been around the Senior Citizens Center, you’ll know this is exactly how Bruce treats others.

I’ll have to admit, one of the reasons I attended this months meetings was to catch a glimpse of the gun toting Councilman Mark Conatser who’s public service and character was questioned earlier in the week by the two “journalists” with the Gannett owned StarPress in their article, “W/R REPORT: Gun-slingin’ councilman prompts probe”.

That’s a lie.

I didn’t read it, but I did hear about it on Facebook. It does make you wonder who pays to read their online paper.

Anyway, the city conducted business in a professional manner and all those seeking assistance were treated with respect. It sounds like the Village area in Muncie will be getting some love and much needed investment which is always good to hear.

During public comments, we did get to hear from a member of the DC Good Government Group a/k/a the Delaware County Tea Party. One of the lead patriots, Muncie citizen Jim Arnold, wanted to remind the City Council members that our Muncie Action Plan (MAP) requested that our public officials adopt a code of ethics. Mr. Arnold even provided a sample code of ethics from the American Society for Public Administrators (ASPA).

ASPA is a well respected organization whose members have been formally trained in public administration and enter a variety of fields within the public sector. Not all ASPA members are elected officials and bound by a constitution so their internal code of ethics and guidelines are strongly encouraged for all members.

While I appreciate MAPs efforts, and Mr. Arnold’s sentiment, it’s rather insulting to ask our duly elected officials to adopt a code of ethics outside of their oaths to uphold the constitution. The same constitution grants a free press which is intended to hold government officials accountable.

A free press plays a key role in sustaining and monitoring a healthy democracy, as well as in contributing to greater accountability, good government, and economic development.

One of the highest criteria to judge the free press is that it is not subservient to the vested interests and the versions are not tempered, distorted, sponsored, or otherwise politically initiated.

Therefore, in my opinion, Mr. Arnold’s request is misdirected.

It is also my opinion that MAP attendee’s were sharing their frustration about their local newspaper from two years ago since the government reporters were constantly spinning half truths to sell papers. The citizens of Muncie would like to see their newspaper reporting objective facts and stop inciting feuds and insulting our public servants by mocking them every chance they get over the most meaningless and trivial scenarios.

Mr. Arnold should look up the professional code of ethics for journalists and send them to the Gannett government reporters at The StarPress. Request them to live up to their key role in “sustaining and monitoring a healthy democracy leading to economic development”. Ask them to support good government and present our community in a good light to those living inside and outside of our city limits.

If you look at the role of the free press and the criteria for which it is judged, it should be clear that the institution in our community most needing to adhere to a code of ethics is the Gannett owned StarPress.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.
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