Society of American Travel Writers


The Society of American Travel Writers is an organization of writers, editors, photographers and broadcasters who report and comment on travel and tourism, and of Associate Members who are professional public relations people in travel and tourism.

All SATW members, as representatives of the public interest, have the fundamental responsibility of presenting honestly both favorable and unfavorable information on all aspects of the travel industry. Any individual or corporate action which prevents full and frank presentation and exchange of information is in direct violation of the basic Code of Ethics of SATW.

All SATW members shall subscribe to the highest standards of ethics in the profession of journalism. In accepting membership, each member agrees to abide by the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Code of Professional Responsibility

The Society of American Travel Writers has the responsibility of accenting the need for truth and accuracy in all aspects of travel journalism, while setting standards which leave no room for dishonest or distorted stories. Toward this goal, SATW will continue to serve the public interest and work for the professional needs of its diverse membership in the following specific areas of concern:

1. SATW recognizes the need for annual and ongoing scrutiny of its membership, eliminating those dilettantes who merely engage in travel journalism as a hobby, and at the same time demanding very high professional standards for admission to membership.

2. SATW will work cooperatively with publishers, editors and broadcast media toward achieving higher rates of pay for articles, photographs, films and other travel-related materials, while stressing the economic necessity for reimbursement of legitimate travel expenses so that all members may function in travel journalism without even the appearance of compromising their integrity, so far as the public is concerned.

3. SATW will maintain liaison with segments of the travel industry which sponsor familiarization trips, while at the same time underscoring the complete independence of the travel journalist in reporting on the negative as well as the positive results of such trips, or to decide that the material justifies no report of any kind. In this connection, SATW emphasizes the advisability of sponsors providing advance documentation as to the variety of potential story material that might be developed by a familiarization trip, and stresses the negative impact on a journalist's productivity if too much time is devoted to unnecessary social events at the expense of free time to develop story materials.

4. SATW recognizes that professional travel journalists are expected to be thoroughly professional, exercising common courtesy and respect for fellow members and for the customs and cultures of other countries.

5. The sole responsibility of the SATW member is to provide his/her readers, listeners or viewers with objective and independent reporting. SATW calls direct attention to the fact that some members represent publications which do not accept complimentary transportation, accommodations or other necessities or amenities of travel. Prospective hosts sponsoring familiarization trips at no charge to invited journalists are requested also to state in the invitation what the full rate or the press or industry rate would be for such trips, giving those members who must pay all or part of the cost of any trip the option to do so.

6. Flagrantly unprofessional conduct will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in whatever manner deemed necessary by SATW Officers and the Board of Directors. The Society shall discipline members found guilty of breach of oral or written contracts, of plagiarism, of unwarranted bias or prejudice, or other acts deemed unethical by the Officers and Board of Directors.

Formal complaints of a violation of the spirit or letter of the SATW Code of Ethics must be made in writing, signed by the complainant(s) and forwarded to the Society's Washington office. The Administrative Coordinator will immediately thereupon forward the complaint to the incumbent President, and to the members of the Society's Ethics and Professional Practices Committee. All complaints will be promptly investigated by the committee and a written report forwarded within 30 days to the President. The member complained against shall have an opportunity to respond to the complaint in writing before the findings of the committee are forwarded to the President.

Should the Ethics Committee recommend disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from membership, the member complained against shall be notified in advance of Board action by certified letter, signed by the President of SATW, of his or her right to make a formal reply or request a formal hearing before the next Board meeting. Said member will be required to pay his or her own expenses to be present at such a hearing, but may also have the option of designating third party representation.

A member may appeal a Board decision concerning ethics and professional practices within 30 days of being notified of said decision. The request for an appeal must be made within that time frame by certified mail to the President at the Washington office address. The Appeal Panel will consist of at least three past presidents, selected by the Past Presidents Council. This Panel will schedule a hearing within 30 days of the member's request and will submit a written report on its decision to the Board of Directors no later than 30 days after the hearing. The decision of the Appeal Panel will be final. In the absence of an appeal, Board decisions become effective thirty days from the date of the letter of notification.

7. Members shall not accept payment or courtesies for producing favorable materials about travel destinations against their own professional appraisal.

8. Members shall deal with only those destinations of which they have first-hand knowledge or have utilized reliable sources of information.

9. No member shall permit his or her by-line to appear on work not produced or fully supervised by him or her.

10. Members shall make every attempt to honor deadlines.

11. Members shall regard press trips as working opportunities and make every effort to obtain and report travel news accurately, without imposing excessive demands upon the hospitality of hosts. Any services required by a member, over and above those provided on a hosted trip, shall be paid for by the member.

12. Editor members are encouraged to pay on acceptance whenever possible and should return unaccepted manuscripts and other materials courteously and as promptly as possible.

13. Associate members shall neither accept nor pay money for acquiring new accounts, and shall not offer cash or any other form of payment to editors and writers in return for editorial coverage.

14. The Society shall discipline, as provided in Section 6, members found guilty of breach of oral or written contracts, of plagiarism, or other unethical acts.

15. SATW and its membership pledges to continue to do everything possible to attain and maintain for travel journalists a position of highest prestige and integrity in the journalistic fraternity.

Resolved by The Editors Council in Boston, Mass.,April 16, 1989.

In recognition of ethics policies adapted by newspapers and magazines, and by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists, members of the SATW Editors council believe no SATW function should involve subsidies from travel industry sources.

Elimination of such subsidies in all SATW functions, including conventions, chapter meetings, board meetings and tours, will result in a stronger and more respected association.

Accordingly, Editors Council have resolved not to attend any subsidized SATW sessions. Recognizing that planning for meetings is well under way, we will implement this policy following the 1990 convention. We ask that no contracts be signed that call for subsidies not available to other convention groups. We encourage SATW to keep subsidies to a minimum at all intervening functions.

Convention program should devote a substantial majority of time to professional development and issues, whether the convention is in North America or abroad. The society should allocate additional funds for professional program, including speaker fees and transportation.

No post-convention clip book should be produced, nor should clippings or members works' be used to lobby for future convention sites.

It is our intention to work within the society to attain these goals prior to the 1990 convention. We firmly believe that such a policy will enhance the credibility of our membership and our Society.