Honesty is the hallmark of any business. Whether one writes as a business or as a hobby, a writer has ethical responsibilities to the public and he/she cannot afford to shy away from it. Here are some of the ethical responsibilities that a writer should possess:
What the writer writes should be original and never ever be plagiarized. Plagiarizing is a crime which is legally punishable, if proved. The possibility or likelihood of not getting noticed or caught can never be an excuse for any writer to resort to plagiarism.
It should however be noted here that not every idea or stuff that a writer writes can be born out of 100% original thinking. We acquire knowledge from various sources, some discernible and some indiscernible. As long as we digest the idea, add some of our own “value” to it and our writing output comes in our own words and style, it cannot be accused as plagiarism. But this freedom does not apply to creative writing. If a writer, who reads a good story and likes it very much, re-writes it his own style with the names of characters and scenarios altered and claims it as his own, it is definitely not. It is unquestionably plagiarism.
Where the writer borrows ideas from discernible sources and quotes them, it is imperative that he gives due credit to the source by citing the source reference as per internationally approved writing norms.
There are certain socially sensitive and morally responsible areas where a writer should practice utter restraint in his writing. While writing on religious subjects, a writer cannot claim freedom of writing if he goes about mudslinging on any religiously sensitive practices of any sect or group, even if he is cent percent convinced that what he writes is true.
Likewise, when there there are communal disturbances, violence and unrest in the society, a writer should never write anything that can potentially whip up passions in any one section of the society that can endanger another section pitted against it.
What a writer writes should go along with the culture and etiquette followed in a society. A writer’s writing should not end up in corrupting the minds of the targeted readers. Highly explicit description of sexual acts, use of “offensive words”, elaborating, eulogizing or glorifying acts which are normally considered immoral and amorous in a way to enhance saleability of the writing at the cost of corrupting the minds of readers should be assiduously avoided by a responsible writer.
A socially responsible writer should not spread rumors and avoid unverified news and circulate it as if it is a fact. A writer should never use his political association or religious association, clout and protection available in the profession (e.g. journalists) to personally attack individuals or groups who who might have personally acted against him or showed antagonism towards him.
Writing is a skill and a gift of God, not running in the blood of everybody. It is a potent tool that has to be used constructively for the well being of the society. It is a double edged sword and if used wrongly at the detriment of the society, the sword will harm the user too. Writers, thus should always remember this and never forget their ethical responsibilities to the public.