Examiner Media Ethics Code

Journalism Fundamentals

Telling the Truth

  • We will be honest, accurate, truthful and fair. We will not distort or fabricate facts, imagery, sound or data.
  • We will provide accurate context for all reporting.
  • We will seek out diverse voices that can contribute important perspectives on the subject we are writing about.
  • We will ensure that sources are reliable. To the maximum extent possible, we will make clear to our audience who and what our sources are, what motivations our sources may have and any conditions people have set for providing information. When unsure of information, we will leave it out or make clear it has not been corroborated.
  • We will correct errors quickly, completely and visibly. We will make it easy for our audience to bring errors to our attention.
  • If a report includes criticism of people or organizations, we give them the opportunity to respond.
  • We will clearly distinguish fact from opinion in all content.

Conflicts of Interest

  • We will avoid any conflict of interest that undermines our ability to report fairly. We will disclose to our audience any unavoidable conflicts or other situational factors that may validly affect judgment of our credibility.
  • We do not offer to skew our reporting.
  • Our journalists are prohibited from running for political office or engaging directly in civic/business affairs we cover.
  • We do not allow the interests of advertisers or other funding impact the integrity of our journalism.

Community

  • We will respect our audience and those we write about. We’ll consider how our work and its permanence may impact the subjects of our reporting and our communities, especially given the nature of the Internet.

Professional Conduct

  • We do not plagiarize or violate copyrights.
  • We keep promises to sources, readers and the community.

Nature of Our Journalism

  • We want our news coverage to be fact-based, without expression of opinions, but reporters are permitted to provide commentary in related blog posts or columns, being transparent about their opinions.
  • Our reporters may express personal opinions in their own accounts on social networks.

Social Media Policy

  • Our journalists are permitted (but not encouraged) to express personal opinions in their own accounts on social networks. They should avoid statements that might reasonably lead readers to conclude they can’t report fairly on an important issue. 

Bombs and Other Threats

  • We will consult with local officials to determine whether a bomb threat is credible before we publish a story, but we will reserve the right to publish regardless of what officials say.

Concealing Identity

  • We permit undercover reporting only when we feel a story is important enough to justify doing so.

Confidential Sources

  • We use confidential sources sparingly to provide important information that cannot be obtained through on-the-record sources. Reporters should disclose the identity of unnamed sources to at least one editor.
  • We will disclose to readers or viewers the reasons for granting confidentiality, such as fear for the source’s safety or job, when we use unnamed sources.
  • We are more open to granting confidentiality to sources we approach for interviews than to sources approaching us with tips or with dirt about political opponents or business rivals.

Children: Coverage, Images and Interviews

  • We avoid identifying — by name or photo — children who are connected with a crime as perpetrators, victims or witnesses.

Hostage Situations

  • We will take authorities’ recommendations into account but use our own judgment.

Interviewing

  • Our organization never pays for interviews.
  • Our organization does not permit interview subjects to approve their comments in advance of publication.

Sources: Reliability and Attribution

  • We may use sources with a conflict of interest in stories, but details that signal the conflict of interest should be included (e.g. a scientist who conducted a study about a drug’s effectiveness when the study was funded by the manufacturer).
  • We use links, if available, for source attribution in online stories.

Fact-Checking

  • Our journalists fact-check to independently verify all information before publication.
  • We should not publish rumors or other information we have not verified.
  • Reporters should fact-check their own work before submitting to an editor but should not preview any of the actual text of a story with sources.
  • Our staff members should take all possible reporting steps to ensure the accuracy of information that we publish and note our sources. We should not publish information we haven’t verified. If there’s room for debate, we should cite our sources, word stories carefully to avoid spreading false rumors, acknowledge the debate and ask the community’s help in confirming or clarifying information.
  • We use multiple sources to verify information in order to help ensure accuracy. We meet with sources in person and speak with them over the phone as often as possible. If a source makes a controversial charge, we aim to verify the information through documents or other independent research. Sources need to provide us with their first and last names and titles; we rarely use anonymous sources. We only use anonymous sources if doing so is the only way to tell an incredibly important story of great public interest.
  • In regards to comments from readers on our social media accounts, if we deem any posts as hate speech or inciting violence, or if we determine a comment is posted from a fake account, we will remove the content and ban the user. Also, we fact-check comments from users to verify accuracy. If assertions are missing important context, we will provide that context for our readers. 

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).
  • We will be alert to situations where the most accessible spokesmen are at the extremes of issues, but most people are somewhere in the middle.
  • We will refrain from presenting multiple points of view if one perspective on an issue has been credibly established as fact. In other words, we will avoid “false balance.”
  • In breaking news situations, we will seek comments from key sides of an issue and break the news once we have established the key facts.

Online Commenting

  • We do not permit anonymous comments at all.

Quotations

  • We will not alter quotes in any way.
  • We will allow separate phrases of a quote separated by ellipsis. (“I will go to war … but only if necessary,” the president said.)

Withholding Names

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

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.

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.
  • Our journalists may accept tickets or press passes to events we are covering or reviewing, but should not accept extra tickets for family or friends.

Plagiarism and Attribution

  • When we are using someone else’s exact words, we should use quotation marks and attribution.
  • Attribution should be as specific as possible, including the name of the author and publication or organization of the source we are quoting.

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 avoid coverage of an issue or campaign if a family member’s political involvement would call into question the integrity of a journalist’s coverage. If avoiding such a family conflict is impossible, we will disclose the family member’s involvement in related coverage.

Awards and Contests

  • We will accept awards 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 online, we will acknowledge the error at the bottom of the article and update the article with the correct information. 
  • 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 prohibit full-time employees from doing freelance work for a competing media organization as defined by company managers or for a political organization, elected official, government agency, candidate for office, or a non-profit agency with a political agenda, such as an environmental group.

Removing Archived Work

  • We will consider exceptions to our policy in extreme cases, such as abuse or danger to someone’s personal safety.

Reporting On Our Organization

  • We will assign an internal reporter to cover the story when our organization has done something newsworthy, but we will allow the story to be vetted by a high-level editor.

Diversity

  • We encourage staffers to seek diverse sources, both in specific stories and in routine beat coverage.

Hate Speech

  • We report on hate speech and actions and include original offensive expressions in most cases.
  • We consider the perspectives of those offended by hateful expression when making publication decisions.
  • We support local, national or international laws to combat hate speech.

Mental Health and Suicide

  • We will cover mental health and suicide as broad public health issues as consistently as we cover other health matters.
  • We will cover individual events of suicide as news stories if they involve prominent figures or public means.
  • We will not use sensational headlines on stories about suicide.

Naming suspects

  • 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.

Obscenities

  • We will use obscenities, vulgarities or slurs in direct quotations if the quote is essential to the story.

Privacy

  • We consider the standard for publishing material about private individuals who are thrust into the public eye as higher than that for public individuals.
  • We do not believe that everything celebrities and public officials say and do should be made public, even though they cede a great deal of privacy when they enter the public eye. We analyze cases on an individual basis, taking into account the news value of the public figure’s action.

Race and Gender

  • We will seek out people in the groups we cover to gain perspective on our coverage and terminology.
  • We will identify transgender people by the gender they express publicly.

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 consider the differing impact of sensitive material on differing segments of the population (e.g., effects on minors, vulnerable groups or victims of crime).
  • We will refrain from running sensitive material specifically or solely for the revenue purposes, such as increased digital traffic.

Audio

  • Our journalists may never combine sound from different sources in such a way as to create an audio scene that never happened.

Photo and Video

  • When documenting private or traumatic moments, we will not seek permission to shoot, but will be sensitive to subjects’ situation.

Clickbait and Metrics

  • We will accurately reflect the content of related stories in headlines and social media posts.

News and Advertising

  • We do not allow advertisers to have a say in the selection or content of stories and photos.
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