Kevin Z. Smith, Temporary Assistant Professor of Journalism for Fairmont State Community & Technical College, has been appointed to serve on a national task force to examine the ethical concerns of public relations practitioners and journalists.
Smith recently attended an ethics summit in New York City hosted by the Public Relations Society of America. Smith was selected by officials of the Society of Professional Journalists to represent the organization at the meeting. More than 30 executives from the top public relations firms in the U.S. were in attendance. Smith was the only media representative to attend the summit.
Smith was asked to address the various ethical issues confronting the national media and to assist PRSA officials in creating a better working relationship between the two professions and their respective organizations. SPJ is the largest professional journalism organization in the U.S. PRSA is the largest public relations professional group in the country.
"There is belief that the media have to have an adversarial relationship with PR people in order to function properly," Smith said. "The fact is, when it comes to ethics, we all want to do what is right and we have common ground from which to work. Anytime we can engage in dialogue that can help bridge our differences and have us working together to improve the ethical landscape of our professions, I think it's our duty to do that."
Smith is a 17-year member of the SPJ ethics committee and chaired the committee from 1994-96. He is a contributing author to two ethics books and has been published in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics. Smith is the former managing editor of the Times West Virginian (Fairmont) and once worked in public relations for United Hospital Center (Clarksburg).