Interview with Michelle Sutton, acquisitions editor, Christian Fiction Online Magazine, http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com
1) As an editor of an online magazine, do you prefer a more informal set of guidelines rather than a written code explaining how you expect journalists to make ethical decisions?
Michelle said, “My policy is to give the columnists freedom to write what they want to write, and if it doesn’t fit the mission or intention of the magazine, then we discuss this, and I ask them to make revisions.” According to Michelle, this has happened a few times, but the columnists usually understand and follow informal guidelines discussed before the actual writing of the column.
2) Do you have a written code of ethics for the magazine you edit? If so, what are they?
Michelle explained that she’s actually the acquisitions editor. She says, “I edit content in the sense that I make the bottom line decision about what is admitted for publication and what will be revised or not included.” Open communication between columnists alleviates the need for a written code of ethics, according to Michelle. “They know they can ask me anything.”
3) Describe in no more than 250 words ways in which fiction writers should apply ethical guidelines to their work.
“Columnists, for the most part, seem to inherently understand that their work must be wholly theirs and not plagiarized work of another author. This goes without saying. The way the magazine is set up, it’s pretty straightforward that each column is authored by the person who has volunteered to write the column,” Michelle says. She explained that it goes without saying that acceptable language is expected and rudeness is not allowed. However, sarcasm and wit are encouraged, since humor is a large plus. She says, “But the punch lines must be tastefully done. If they aren’t, then the story will not be published.
4) Do you have a personal code of ethics? If so, please share.
Michelle said, “My ethical code is pretty simple. I don’t write anything that is not uniquely my own work and expect the same from my columnists. It’s a given that I will only write content that comes from my own experience, and nothing more.”
5) What advice would you give writers about code of ethics?
Michelle advises, “Only submit work that is uniquely your content, ideas, and your original work.”