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Concerns Regarding Journal of Accountancy's Recent Article

Feb 17, 2023

INCPAS president & CEO Courtney Kincaid, CAE, IOM, MPA, joined colleagues in expressing concerns with a recent article published by the Journal of Accountancy. The article includes comments from NASBA President & CEO Ken Bishop regarding the recent NASBA vote to uphold the 150-hour education requirement for CPA licensure. Read the full letter below.

Courtney Vien, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Accountancy
Brian Strickland, Author, NASBA upholds 150-hour education requirement for CPA licensure.

Dear Ms. Vien,

We are writing today to express our concerns relating to your recent article titled "NASBA upholds 150-hour education requirement for CPA licensure.” As the leading publication among financial decision makers, it is crucial the Journal of Accountancy always operates with a high level of journalistic integrity. Unfortunately, it is our opinion that this article currently fails to provide accurate, fair, and thorough information. We encourage you to update the story and include additional context, alternative voices, and an opportunity for those criticized/questioned to respond. If that cannot be accomplished, we encourage you to retract the story.

We want to be clear; we are not objecting to the JofA publishing an article focusing on the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Board of Directors’ recent vote to affirm their commitment to 150-hour education requirement. It is a topic worthy of coverage by the JofA; however, this article, in our opinion, strays from a factual retelling of the vote. Instead, it gives Ken Bishop an editorial column masquerading as news. This is hugely problematic.

By relying on Bishop as the sole source of the story, readers lack important and necessary context. Opinions are represented as fact. There is an air of favorability. We do not think this was your intention; however, we are particularly challenged by the absence of comment from the objects of Bishop’s criticism, state society CEOs and staff. These ethical errors can be corrected. We draw your attention to the ethical principles of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

The SPJ – “the nation's most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior”[1] – outlines four principles that serve as the foundation of ethical journalism [Code of Ethics]. These principles, SPJ encourages, should be practiced by all people in all media, JofA included. The four principles are: Seek Truth and Report It; Minimize Harm; Act Independently; Be Accountable and Transparent. Under each principle are ethical statements journalists should abide by. This article, in its current form, fails to meet the standards set forth by the SPJ. We assume these are unintentional and wish to bring them to your attention. We are concerned by the article’s failure to meet ethical standards in each of the four pillars, specifically:

  1. Seek Truth and Report It.
    • Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing, or summarizing a story.
    • Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
    • Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
    • Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
    • Label advocacy and commentary.
  2. Minimize Harm
    • Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.
  3. Act Independently
    • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    • Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors, or other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
  4. Be Accountable and Transparent
    • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts
    • Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage, and news content
    • Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity, and fairness.
    • Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.

The JofA has become a leading publication because of readers’ trust. You help our members navigate their rapidly changing complex environment. Articles such as this, ones that leave out important facts, aren’t truthful.

“Keeping news in proportion and not leaving important things out are also cornerstones of truthfulness,” according to a Pew Research Center study. “Journalism is a form of cartography: it creates a map for citizens to navigate society. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map. The map also should include news of all our communities, not just those with attractive demographics. This is best achieved by newsrooms with a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. The map is only an analogy; proportion and comprehensiveness are subjective, yet their elusiveness does not lessen their significance.”[2]

In closing, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the controversial nature of the human capital problem, particularly the solutions. It’s important to be very clear, by signing this letter, the signatories are not endorsing nor advocating for any solution or change. We are advocating for journalistic integrity and the adherence to high ethical standards as you cover the issue. Without integrity and standards, our members struggle to make informed decisions when it comes to the relevancy and sustainability of their chosen profession.

Thank you for your valuable contributions to the profession.


Courtney Kincaid, CAE, IOM, MPA
President & CEO
Indiana CPA Society



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