He wanted to hire me to write a term paper for his wife who was in college, and for whom English was not her native language. He was desperate. The assignment was crucial to her graduating.
After careful consideration, I called him back and regretfully declined.
Though I could definitely use the money and the repeat business, the idea just didn't sit well with me.
I didn't feel comfortable "ghost writing" an essay whereby the student would get all the "credit" but would be "deficited" in what she failed to learn.
Ultimately, this client was able to find someone else to take the job.
Fast forward...it's two years later, and another unrelated writing issue poses a moral dilemma.
Initially, I was tickled pink to finally have an article submitted as a guest post accepted by a hugely popular blog, that boasts millions of followers and Twitter fans.
There was just one condition.
The editor requested that I take out my reference to "God" and a scriptural quote I provided. Reluctantly, I did.
It bothered me, but because this was the first time I had ever worked with this particular editor, I didn't want to come across as unprofessional or uncooperative.
Why should I be ashamed of my faith? I thought.
Still, I felt as if I had somehow been compromised as a result of her "editorial policy."
And just recently, I found myself having to say "no-go" to a site that paid reasonable compensation to its writers, but contained content that I surely would not want my mom to read. :-)
Though many people associate ethics with politics, or religion, or health care-- more and more, it exists in writing too.
Here are some examples of ethical issues for today's writer:
- Honoring a client's request that causes moral conflict or calls for dishonesty
- Making misleading statements or misrepresenting one's qualifications (remember James Frey and the Oprah incident?)
- Providing false testimonials or endorsements
- Selling links to your Blog
- Contributing content to projects that objectify women, or promote racism, sexism, or violence
Writing is a business that calls for daily decisions that will make our careers profitable, sound and solid, but at what cost?
"Let your conscience be your guide."
At the end of the day, we each much choose our individual "deal breakers".
Or should personal feelings be put aside for professional gain?