Ethics code addendum (Undated)


Des Moines Register


CSEP Library

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The committee recognizes that questions will arise about the acceptance of such things as a cup of coffee, a hot dog or a meal in an individual's home. The key to such situations is judgment. We don't want an individual employee or the company embarrassed by having a scuffle with someone over who will pay for coffee, or put in the position of embarrassing a hostess by demanding to pay for a meal served in a home.

In the case of the meal in the home we feel the code's statement "appropriate payment is sent later" means the customary thank-you note sent later.

We think it is logical that when one is invited by an individual or firm to lunch or dinner it would be neither discourteous nor unprofessional to say something to the effect, "Yes, I'd be happy to meet you, but I want to say beforehand that OUT policy here on such things is that I pay for my own meal."

There are some instances when one cannot pay-places where the meal or drinks are catered and no money changes hands. Examples are private clubs, the "night-before-game" dinners and social hours sponsored by universities, golf socials hosted by universities and political dinners. In each of these examples there is good reason to have a staff member on hand. News is being generated, column items discovered, sometimes tips for future stories uncovered. We want our staffers to attend such functions.

In such cases it will be our policy to pay for these meals later with a company check. This may be handled in the cases of colleges and universities and our sports writers with a lump sum payment prior to the season or after the season. In other cases it will be handled by the staffer talking to his supervisor and agreeing on a payment and then having the company send the check to the sponsor of the meal.

In the case where a check needs to be sent to cover transportation of a staffer, it will be the responsibility of the staffer to tell his or her supervisor that the check should be sent.

The question of riding from a hotel to a stadium with a team, or sharing a cab with another, or accepting a ride from an Iowa airport to town with someone will be a matter of judgment. In most cases it will be a matter of convenience to the staffer. Over a period of time the matter of who pays for the cab likely will even out and in the case of taking a ride from an Iowa airport to town, one can offer $5 for gasoline and put that on the expense account, but if the offer is refused the only way to handle it is with a warm thank you.

Ticket expense will be put on individual expense forms, or covered by picking up in advance. In the case of the sports department, which may be buying blocs of tickets, the payment may be covered by an advance or one the end of the season. This will be worked out by the various department heads.

If a gift is received and there seems no easy or routine way to return it, then the gift will be turned over to the department through local charity. It might be a good idea to send a note to the donor saying such has been done and that is because of company policy on gifts.

Some departments or individuals receive gifts, which are not necessarily aimed at an individual. For example, the horn cosmetics or new laundry products. These will be stored and periodically distributed through charity. Some companies make mass mailing of calendars, books or some advertising token (a ball-point pen being one example) These can be kept or thrown away at an individual's judgment.

It shall be the staff member's responsibility to turn unsolicited books and records over to a supervisor for a decision on whether the material should be reviewed or sold at the employee sale. (It has been suggested that department heads should have first crack at books to be sold in case any of these books could be used as departmental reference material).

Persons holding jobs as stringers or free-lancers should make clear to their supervisors what they are stringing and for whom.

A staff member can accept expenses of travel and lodging from an organization sponsoring a speech or other appearance (provided the company does not provide these expenses) if the acceptance of such expenses does not pose a conflict of interest and if the arrangement is cleared beforehand with the employee's supervisor.

Examples of stock holdings, which might pose conflicts because they are subject to the influence of Register and Tribune stories are over-the-counter stocks and new offerings in Iowa. Not covered would be holidays in such corporations as Quaker Oats or General Motors- in other words, national corporations.