Advisory Opinion 20
Delivering an ASCII file of a transcript to a third party to distribute (1995)
Statement of Facts
A freelance reporter has requested the Committee on Professional Ethics for an advisory opinion regarding the individual reporter's responsibilities under the Association's Code of Professional Ethics in the following situation. An agency contracted with a freelance reporter for reporting services and required the reporter to deliver the transcript on an ASCII diskette to the agency by a certain date. Although the reporter delivered the transcript on time to the agency, the agency failed to deliver it to the client. The client contacted the reporter directly for delivery of the transcript. The reporter wants to know the reporter's responsibilities after the reporter has delivered the transcript to the agency for distribution to the client.
The Committee believes that the reporter has an ethical duty not to participate in arrangements that promise unrealistic transcript delivery dates or that routinely fail to meet promised delivery dates. Participation in such arrangements creates the appearance of impropriety and undermines the integrity of the reporting profession. The reporter has the responsibility to determine the transcript delivery dates the agency promised to the client and try to meet such dates. If the promised dates are unreasonable, or if the agency routinely fails to make deliveries, the reporter should decline the engagement. The reporter cannot delegate this duty to any contracting agency or company. If the reporter discovers the agency has not delivered the transcript to the client as promised, the reporter must first ascertain why the agency failed to deliver the transcript to the client. If the reason for the lack of delivery is the agency's tardiness, the reporter should (1) notify the agency that the reporter intends to deliver the transcript to the client and then (2) deliver the transcript to the client.
A member that subcontracts with an agency has a professional and ethical responsibility to determine the representations the agency made to the client regarding quality, handling and distribution of the transcript. To enter into an arrangement for transcript delivery dates that cannot be confirmed or kept is a violation of Provision No. 3 of the Code which mandates reporters to guard against not only the fact but also the appearance of impropriety, and Provision No. 9 that requires the reporter to maintain the integrity of the reporting profession. The Committee also notes that Section I.E of the Guidelines for Professional Practice provides that reporters should meet promised delivery dates whenever possible, make timely delivery of transcripts when no date is specified, and provide immediate notification of delays.
The Committee on Professional Ethics believes that the individual reporter that subcontracts with an agency has a duty to investigate and refrain from participating in arrangements that promise unrealistic transcript delivery dates to the consumer or neglect to deliver transcripts on a timely basis as promised. Failure to do so constitutes a violation of Provisions Nos. 3 and 9 of the Code requiring avoidance of the fact and appearance of impropriety and maintenance of the integrity of the reporting profession. If the reporter discovers the agency has not delivered the transcript to the client as promised, the reporter should first ascertain why the agency failed to deliver the transcript to the client. If the reason for the lack of delivery is the agency's tardiness, the reporter should (1) notify the agency that the reporter intends to deliver the transcript to the client and then (2) deliver the transcript to the client.
THIS PUBLIC ADVISORY OPINION REFLECTS THE STATUS OF THE LAW IN MOST JURISDICTIONS. MEMBERS ARE REQUIRED TO CONFORM TO THE ACCEPTED PRACTICES SET FORTH IN THIS PUBLIC ADVISORY OPINION TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH PRACTICES ARE CONSISTENT WITH THEIR OWN APPLICABLE STATE AND LOCAL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS.