July 1925: KPA adopts Code of Ethics


In prepping for the Sesquicentennial celebration of the Kentucky Press Association in 2019, we’re all looking for any historical documents we can share with members and the public. John Nelson, who is authoring a book about those 150 years found a copy of the Code of Ethics adopted by KPA in July, 1925.

The document is above; what it states is below. There have been legislators in recent years that wanted to legislate a Code of Ethics on KPA members. Guess now we can show them they don’t need to worry about that because there’s been once for the last 92 years, whether or not it’s still in place.



Believing that the Profession of Journalism is one of the greatest forces in society for the common good, we, members of the Kentucky Press Association hereby erect and subscribe to the following paragraphs as being our conception of Ethical Standards which we most solemnly accept as the lowest which we may observe.


1st.   I believe in the calling and profession of Journalism

2nd.  I believe that, since under the First Amendment to the United States we are above all law, professionally we must recognize our own Ethical Code, which shall be a standard of practice for the members of the Association.

3rd.   I believe it reasonable and just to members of the Association that for the protection of society and the good name of our profession, penalties under civil statutes and Association by-laws shall be applied for the punishment of any in or out of our Association who shall violate any principle of the Code. Therefore, on this basis I join with my fellows in establishing the following:

Code of Ethics

I Solemnly Promise:

  • To maintain a standard of Journalism in the paper which I own or manage or on which I am employed, that will reflect credit upon the Association to which I belong and win the respect of friend and foe.
  • To strive for no success that is not founded upon the Golden Rule and the highest conception of justice and morality.
  • To speak in respectful terms, through the editorial or news columns, of contemporary newspapers and editors, and when this earned be done to remain silent, unless to remain silent would be to the detriment of the people I serve.
  • To uphold through my paper the government and all laws, even though they be obnoxious or distasteful to me and for all such laws as I can not agree with I will seek my remedy only in their repeal.
  • To strive as far as lies in me to make all editorial comment and news reports just, fair and uncontrolled by those natural predilections which sometimes unfairly influence us.
  • To perform every duty incumbent upon me as a member of this Association, and to accept no office or duty unless with the full determination to do my best to fulfill the requirements imposed.
  • To give due credit for all matter copied from other publications.
  • To hold sacred and inviolable all information given me in a confidential way, being careful not to accept confidences that may hereafter be embarrassing to the one giving them and to me receiving them; information given in this manner being too often meant as an agent to close the door to legitimate publicity.
  • To recognize the right of privacy of individuals in all matters not of public concern.
  • To recognize it to be an ethical duty to carefully arrange such rates for services as will insure a fair profit.
  • To conduct business in such a manner that illicit propagandists will not presume to graft space in my publication or in the publication on which I am employed.
  • To give thorough investigation to all questionable advertising offered and refuse space to misleading, veiled, dishonest or illegitimate advertising.
  • To give a just and correct circulation statement.
  • To strictly maintain published rates.
  • To refrain from engaging help employed by a competitor, or a brother newspaper man, without first giving him ample opportunity, if he so desires, to retain such help.
  • To correct, promptly and prominently, any error in news or editorial utterance we may have published that might injure any individual or institution.
  • To use the honorable title of editor as a prefix or affix to the name of all newspaper men in good standing with the Association.
  • To use every laudable effort to elevate the standards of Journalism in America and win that confidence and respect that comes as a reward for right doing and right thinking.

To the above paragraphs I hereunto cheerfully subscribe; and in witness thereof I hereby sign my name.

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