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Code of Ethics


Updated February 2018

"TAWA (the Texas Auto Writers Association) promotes quality and accuracy in journalism and professionalism among its members."

The Texas Auto Writers Association is composed of members who cover autos, crossovers, light trucks and the automotive industry in print, on air and online. Each spring, we hold an Auto Roundup where we review and select the best car-based products, including crossovers and minivans. In the fall, we attend the Texas Truck Rodeo. Get-togethers or other official meetings, are held on media days at the Texas State Fair and at the Houston and Dallas Auto Shows.

Here are the ethical "code of conduct" guidelines for new and veteran members alike:

1.   BE ACCURATE. Take extra steps to make sure specifications and quotes are correct and in context.

2.   BE FAIR AND BALANCED. Always strive to be honest and reasonable in our coverage. A positive outlook and constructive criticism are welcome; overly critical reviews are not appropriate for members of TAWA. Do not let personal bias and/or financial relationships such as advertising support affect objective and factual evaluations.

3.   BE CONSIDERATE AND APPROPRIATE.The business of automotive reviewing provides many special opportunities and access to industry people and products. Observe the courtesies expected in any professional setting. Examples include: Wait for an invitation, don't solicit or demand one; report on a press vehicle rather than simply borrowing it; keep the vehicle clean and in proper running condition; respect the challenges and responsibilities of those who manage the press fleets and the new-model introductions. 

4.   DO NOT SOLICIT ADVERTISING, SPECIAL FAVORS OR SPONSORSHIPS AT PRESS EVENTS. "Press" means news and editorial coverage. Any discussions concerning advertising or other form of financial gain should always be with a business representative and never at any type of press event.

5.   DO NOT ASK, CAJOLE, OR COMPLAIN TO BE INCLUDED ON PRESS TRIPS. It's the manufacturer's prerogative as to whom, when, and where to invite. If, however, you suspect an invitation was sent but misplaced or misdirected, or your outlet was overlooked, you may direct a polite and confidential inquiry to the communications team. Accept their response graciously and professionally. If you accept an invitation to attend a launch, honor that commitment and adhere to the automaker's program. If you have an emergency that prevents you from attending, let the manufacturer or its representatives know as soon as possible.

6.   DO NOT THREATEN (OR IMPLY) THAT POSITIVE COVERAGE RESTS ON BEING INVITED TO PRESS EVENTS, ACCESS TO VEHICLES OR FINANCIAL GAIN. Auto manufacturers have their own policies and limits as to who gets certain vehicles, including when and where. Politely pointing out that you can't write about a vehicle you haven't tested is not the same as the threat of editorial extortion. If you are seeking advertising consideration, wait until after the event to contact the public relations or communications personnel for a referral to the appropriate department.

7.   DO NOT DISRESPECT OTHERS OR ENGAGE IN ANY OF THESE BEHAVIORS: SEXUAL INNUENDO, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, GENDER BIAS, SEXISM, OR INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING. Do not try to kiss, touch, or enter the hotel room of a manufacturer representative, journalist, or other industry contact without clear and explicit consent. Sexual harassment is a serious violation of professional ethics and should be regarded and treated as such by all members of TAWA. Complaints of sexual harassment should be brought to the appropriate onsite TAWA official who, depending on the nature of the complaint, may be able to act upon it immediately. Members of the association, particularly members exercising authority of any kind, are urged to be aware of this policy, and to prevent violations where possible and to take alleged violations seriously. If you experience or witness behavior that is unbecoming of a TAWA member, report it immediately to a member of the TAWA board. [For more details, see TAWA’s official policy on sexual harassment below.]

8.   LEAN ON TAWA LEADERSHIP. Remember that TAWA's board members are elected to serve the members and run the affairs of the organization. Please help the board be more effective by alerting them to any challenges or problems as soon as possible.

The golden rule, "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You," is an effective code. Apply it to all matters related to TAWA events and members, test vehicles, media trips and relationships with the manufacturers' representatives.


Updated February 2018

TAWA members and board must work together effectively as a team to accomplish the goals of the organization. Such joint efforts are enhanced by an environment of courtesy and mutual respect. Offensive behavior not only impedes the effectiveness of the joint efforts, but can also create exposure to legal liability.

TAWA fully supports the rights and opportunities of all its board members, committee members, members at large, and all other contacts within the automotive industry to work in an environment free from discrimination and without subjugation to sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment does not include occasional compliments or voluntary relationships between members and/or contacts in the industry.

Sexual harassment may be overt or subtle. It includes behavior that is not welcome, that is personally offensive, that fails to respect the rights of others, that lowers morale and that, therefore, interferes with the effectiveness of our work.

Sexual harassment may take different forms. One specific form is a demand for sexual favors. Other forms of harassment include:

Verbal: Sexual innuendos, suggestive comments, jokes of a sexual nature, sexual propositions, threats.

Non-VerbalSexually suggestive objects or pictures, graphic commentaries, suggestive or insulting sounds, leering, whistling, obscene gestures.

Physical: Unwanted physical contact, including touching, pinching, brushing the body, coerced sexual intercourse, assault.

Whatever form it takes, sexual harassment is insulting and demeaning to the recipient and cannot be tolerated. Sexual harassment of any member or staff by any member or staff will not be tolerated. All leadership and members will be expected to behave accordingly and take appropriate measures to ensure that such conduct does not occur. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against any member who engages in sexual harassment.

Further, it is unprofessional behavior to condone sexual harassment or to disregard complaints of sexual harassment from members or industry connections. Such actions allow a climate of sexual harassment to exist and seriously undermine the atmosphere of trust essential to our membership.

Any member who believes she or he has been the subject of sexual harassment should report the alleged act immediately to a member of the TAWA board.


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