In response to the NBCC’s ethics survey, Quill & Quire‘s Derek Weiler observes that Carlin Romano and company missed out on far more interesting questions like, “Is it ethical to review a book by an author who’s written negatively about you in the past?” But he also points to these reviewing guidelines publicly available to all Quill & Quire readers. I think that Quill & Quire has performed a valuable service here. Quill & Quire readers can see precisely how the publication operates, what is to be expected of its contributors, and can then take up specific charges with Weiler if there are any ethical transgressions. Not even a publication as allegedly august as The New York Times Book Review does this. I suppose that, depending on the editor, ethics are something that you make up as you go along.
But because Quill & Quire has set such a sterling example of transparency, I will be putting up an ethical guidelines page for this blog very soon, so that readers can get a sense of the ethical protocols that I personally adhere to when reporting on a story, conducting an interview, or writing a review. And I certainly hope that other newspapers and blogs will follow in the same spirit.