Our Code of Ethics

Journalism Fundamentals

Telling the truth

  • Be honest, accurate, truthful and fair. Do not distort or fabricate facts, imagery, sound or data.
  • Provide accurate context for all reporting.
  • Seek out diverse voices that can contribute important perspectives on the subject you’re writing.
  • Ensure that sources are reliable. To the maximum extent possible, make clear to your audience who and what your sources are, what motivations your sources may have and any conditions people have set for giving you information. When unsure of information, leave it out or make clear it has not been corroborated.
  • Correct errors quickly, completely and visibly. Make it easy for your audience to bring errors to your attention.
  • If a report includes criticism of people or organizations, give them the opportunity to respond.
  • Clearly distinguish fact from opinion in all content.

Conflicts of interest

  • Avoid any conflict of interest that undermines your ability to report fairly. Disclose to your audience any unavoidable conflicts or other situational factors that may validly affect their judgment of your credibility.
  • Do not allow people to make you dishonestly skew your reporting. Do not offer to skew your reporting under any circumstances.
  • Do not allow the interests of advertisers or others funding your work to affect the integrity of your journalism.

Community

  • Respect your audience and those you write about. Consider how your work and its permanence may affect the subjects of your reporting, your community and ­­ since the Internet knows no boundaries ­­ the larger world.

Professional Conduct

  • Don’t plagiarize or violate copyrights.
  • Keep promises to sources, readers and the community.
  • If you belong to a news organization, give all staff expectations, support and tools to maintain ethical standards.

Nature of Journalism at San Eli News

  • We want our news coverage to be fact-based, without expression of opinions, but reporters are encouraged to provide commentary in related blog posts or columns, being transparent about their opinions.

Bombs and Other Threats

  • We will not publish bomb threats if a request is made by responsible community officials.

Concealing Identity

  • We have a blanket ban on undercover reporting in the belief that deception is never appropriate in newsgathering, and other ways can always be found to get the story.

Confidential Sources

  • We do not publish information from sources we cannot name. Reporters may grant confidentiality only in an effort to find named sources for the information.

Children: Coverage, Images and Interviews

  • We identify children who are charged with a crime only if the child is being tried in adult court.
  • We identify children who are charged with a crime only if that crime is a felony.
  • We consider granting confidentiality if we’re covering a story about a sensitive issue that could cause a child to be stereotyped, judged unfairly or put in harm’s way, even if the child doesn’t request it.
  • We avoid identifying — by name or photo — children who are connected with a crime as perpetrators, victims or witnesses.

Hostage Situations

  • We will cooperate with authorities’ recommendations in covering hostage situations.
  • We believe our primary responsibility in covering hostage situations is to help bring a peaceful resolution and not to advance the hostage-holders’ cause.

Interviewing

  • Our organization never pays for interviews.
  • Our organization will provide interviewees with transcripts of interviews in advance of publication but does not permit them to revise their statements.
  • Our organization never provides interview subjects with lists of questions in advance.
  • Articles and reports must state the method of interviewing (i.e., whether it was in person, by telephone, video, Skype or email) if doing so enhances the context of the interview and article.

Sources: Reliability and Attribution

  • We refrain from quoting sources who have a conflict of interest relating to the story (e.g. a scientist who conducted a study about a drug’s effectiveness when the study was funded by the manufacturer). These sources may be used for background information, but their voices should not be included in stories.
  • We disclose how sources In “ordinary people” stories were identified (e.g. through Twitter).
  • We use links, if available, for source attribution in online stories.
  • We include source attribution in online stories themselves as well as links, if available, that provide additional information.
  • We include attributions throughout a story in a chronological account.

Accuracy

  • Our staff members must take responsibility for the accuracy of all information that we publish, using an accuracy checklist before publication.

Balance and Fairness

  • To ensure fairness, we believe in covering not only the most powerful voices on an issue, but also those who are not normally heard (e.g. in election coverage, mainstream and non-mainstream candidates).
  • In breaking news situations, we will attempt to gather comments from key sides of an issue; if comments are not immediately available, we will publish or air the story without them, make clear that we were unable to get some comment and update our story as needed.

Online Commenting

  • We review every comment by every commenter.

Quotations

  • We will not alter quotes in any way.

Withholding Names

  • Unless we have a compelling reason to withhold a name, we always publish names of people involved in the stories we cover.

Financial Interests

  • We will consider a disclosure page on our blog or website that lists our financial interests if we cover business or finance regularly.

Community Activities

  • Our journalists should avoid community involvement in areas that they cover. Journalists should tell their supervisors about their community involvements, including when a story suddenly arises that may present a conflict. When they have to cover an area where they have a personal involvement, we should consider assigning another journalist. If a conflict can’t be avoided, coverage should disclose the conflict.
  • Our journalists may not serve in publicity roles for community organizations.
  • Our journalists should disclose community involvements, particularly those involving topics they might cover, both in general statements we will publish on our website and in stories relating to their involvements.

Gifts, Free Travel and Other Perks

  • Our journalists should accept no gifts from subjects or potential subjects of our coverage. If gifts sent to journalists cannot be returned, we should donate them to charity.

Personal Ethics Statements by Staff

  • Our journalists should work precisely to our company ethics and standards; personal ethics statements are, therefore, not necessary.

Plagiarism and Attribution

  • We must always attribute all sources by name and, if the source is digital, by linking to the original source.

Political Activities by Staff

  • Our journalists should avoid political involvement such as running for or holding office, joining political parties, volunteering in campaigns, serving on community boards, donating to campaigns or displaying campaign materials on their property or persons.
  • Our journalists should be aware of personal biases that can skew their reporting, even if journalists conduct no public activity indicating a political bias. They will consider publishing personal ethics statements, or making colleagues aware of their beliefs to help backstop the objectivity of their work.

Social Networks

  • We should note who has retweeted, liked or otherwise shared inaccurate social media posts that we are correcting, and attempt to message them directly to call attention to our corrections.

Awards and Contests

  • We will accept awards only from journalistic organizations, with judges who are journalists.

Censorship

  • We will refuse any attempt to censor our material, accepting delay as the price for putting out exactly what we want.

Corrections

  • If a mistake is made in a social media post, we will delete the original post and publish a corrected version with an indication that the new post is a correction.

Freelance Work by Employees

  • We do not allow any freelancing by full-time employees, as we believe it will inevitably compromise our integrity or open us up to ethical challenges.

Handling and protection of freelancers and “fixers”

  • We will publicly credit the work of freelancers, fixers and translators.

Removing Archived Work

  • We will never remove material from our archives.

Reporting On Your Organization

  • We will follow the same process we use for covering any other organization when our organization has done something newsworthy. We will assign a reporter, and let that reporter contact sources within our organization. The story will then be edited like any other; senior executives should not see the story before it is published or broadcast.

Robot journalism

  • We will publish a statement with all automatically produced stories, explaining that they are the work of robot journalism.

Diversity

  • We will seek diverse pools of candidates for all jobs, but will always seek to hire the most qualified candidate.

Hate Speech

  • We report on hate speech and actions and include original offensive expressions in most cases.

Mental Health and Suicide

  • We will not cover suicides.

Naming suspects

  • We will not name criminal suspects until charges have been filed.
  • We will name criminal suspects if we have their identifications confirmed by sources we trust.
  • We will not name juvenile suspects in criminal cases unless they are charged with serious violent crimes, such as armed robbery, aggravated sexual assault, attempted homicide or homicide.
  • If a criminal suspect is at large and believed to be dangerous, we will identify the suspect, including a photo or sketch.
  • If we publish a the name of a person arrested or charged with a crime, we will publish a story about the resolution of the case and update the original story and headline, if they are still online, with a link to the new story.

Obscenities

  • We will fully reflect the way sources speak, including their use of obscenities, vulgarities or slurs.

Privacy

  • We view everything on social media and the Internet as fair game for journalists, and everyone knows it, even private individuals. We reserve the right to publish whatever we find online or from public sources.

Race and Gender

  • We will seek out people in the groups we cover to gain perspective on our coverage and terminology.
  • We will use racial, ethnic, gender and sexuality identifiers when specifically germane to a story but not otherwise.
  • We will alternate between male and female pronouns.

Sensational Material

  • We will run sensitive material that might be offensive to specific members of the audience after internal debate has demonstrated a clear public interest in and value from the publication.
  • We will include a note of warning with sensitive material.

Audio

  • Audio cuts of newsmakers that we broadcast must be completely faithful to the original. Verbal stumbles by the speaker may not be edited out.
  • We do not consider it necessary to identify person-in-the-street speakers by name.
  • Our journalists may never combine sound from different sources in such a way as to create an audio scene that never happened.

Data Journalism

  • We will never pay for data, as it may be tainted by financial motives.
  • We will put all data in relevant context.
  • We will make original data available for download when it is not covered by a usage agreement that bars such public posting. Any usage agreement will be disclosed publicly.
  • We will not use personally identifiable data without specific and valid news value to support disclosure.
  • We will secure data to the best extent possible to prevent hacking.

Interactives

  • We will structure our interactives so there is only one way in, to give all users a consistent experience.
  • Links among the parts of an interactive will be retained over time, including when the story is archived.

Photo and Video

  • When documenting private or traumatic moments, we will seek permission from subjects before shooting photos or video.
  • We will refrain from using drones to capture images.
  • We will not ask subjects to pose or to re-enact an event.
  • If we believe we can provide help or mitigate harm by actively participating in a situation (rather than only documenting it), do so and then disclose your participation to your viewers.
  • We will not manipulate images through Photoshop or other means.
  • We will obscure or pixellate images only when the intent is to protect the identify of someone in the image or to protect viewers from gory or graphic material.
  • We will refrain from doing re-enactments of news events.
  • We will refrain from using “handout” photos or video unless your own photographers are unavailable to cover the story.
  • We will clearly label the source of all “handout” photos or video.
  • We will refrain from using any generic photos or video to illustrate a specific story.
  • When using generic photos, we will make sure they are clearly labeled as such.
  • If using music in video stories, we will be cognizant of the emotional effect the music may have, and avoid using music if the story is intended to have a neutral voice.
  • We will verify photos or videos from social media before using them.

User-Generated Content

  • We will guard against using UGC in situations that might be dangerous to the person who created it or to others in the images. We will stress to possible providers of UGC that they must not take risks to gather information or imagery.
  • We partner with other organizations and the public in attempts to verify what UGC is accurate. This means distributing it with caveats that it hasn’t been verified.
  • We will not distribute UGC content unless we’re certain we have the rights to do so. The only exception might be an urgent situation where a rights-holder cannot be found.

Virtual Reality Journalism

  • If a VR production is designed to spread a certain political or social point of view, this should be disclosed at the beginning of the piece.
  • Producers should never stage-manage a VR production.
  • Photos and video may never be manipulated.

Accepting money

  • We do not accept money from donors, foundations, or others outside our advertising and reader subscription base.

Clickbait and Metrics

  • We are encouraged to write clever, creative headlines and social media posts that will entice readers to click on our stories, but headlines will not make promises that our stories don’t deliver.
  • We do not use clickbait.

News and Advertising

  • We do not allow advertisements for certain types of products.
  • We do not allow advertisers to have a say in the selection or content of stories and photos.
  • We require news-like content produced by advertisers to be clearly identified as advertising.
  • We have specific, consistent definitions of terms like “Advertisement,” “Sponsored Content” and “Message from …” and disclose them to our readers.
  • We will require that items that look too much like news stories be accompanied by a clear statement that the article was prepared by the advertiser and did not involve our editorial staff.
  • We require content provided by advertisers to have a different color type or background, a different font or a separation from editorial content with a heavy line.
  • We will allow advertising anywhere on our publication or site.