The purpose of this document is to outline the ethical and editorial standards expected of our journalism. It provides a set of policies for the day-to-day conduct of our work and to promote excellence.
The accuracy and integrity of all media are under scrutiny and assault. Our reporters, editors, and video producers must uphold the highest editorial standards in their pursuit of truth to ensure that we maintain the special bond of trust we have with our audiences. Our reputation is our most valuable asset.
We hold those who seek power, influence, and attention to a high standard; we must ask no less of ourselves even while we remain uncompromising in tackling the tough stories at which we excel.
The editorial mission of our sites is to tell the truth, beholden to none. We do this through honest and independent journalism that serves engaged and focused audiences who reject sham and pretence and demand truth and authenticity.
Each site represents a unique voice speaking to a distinct audience, but all share a passion for building a trusted relationship with their readers, viewers and listeners through fearless and original journalism about what matters, or should matter to them. We tell our readers what we know, how we know it, and why we believe it matters. And we are open about how we got there.
The desire to help our readers understand their world guides our work. We seek to inform, debunk, challenge, provoke, untangle, and amuse but above all to tell the truth as we see it. We will write honestly, transparently and unsentimentally, with intellect and boldness. But we will treat our readers and those we write about as reasonably as we can and recognize the humanity of those we cover.
To that end:
Our voice is iconic, authentic and passionate. It rejects stereotypes, challenges cant, and unravels spin. It is independent-minded and questioning; irreverent when warranted, sometimes scathing, always pithy, smart and incisive. We believe that the world is better understood when we embrace different perspectives and experiences. We will provide a platform for voices rarely or not heard.
Our impact lies in precise and plain-spoken truth, to inform and empower our readers, viewers and listeners, and in telling stories others cannot or will not. We believe that trust in truth is an inherent good and our audiences’ faith in our work is of prime importance; thus, we shall put a high premium on the accuracy and honesty of all we write and say.
The issues and interests of our audiences are paramount. We build their loyalty and engagement through the quality of our journalism and their experience of it, and by enabling them to share their knowledge and perspectives. As such, we shall be audience- not producer-centric even while serving our audiences in new, innovative, and undiscovered ways.
We seek to be the leader in and for our audiences, leaders in our spaces, and leading-edge in all we write and say. We will be honest with our audiences about what we do and do not know and be open about our perspectives. We will be ambitious and innovative in our work in the service of our audience.
There can never be enough great independent journalism or too broad an audience with whom to share it.
The following sections deal with specific aspects of our work.
Accuracy, updating and error correction
The pursuit of truth requires that we are accurate in all we write and say, from the slightest fact to the broadest context. Writers are responsible for the accuracy of their published output regardless of format and distribution platform, but everyone who touches the copy during editing shares in that responsibility.
Information must be verified before publication, using original sources where possible. Neither the need for fast turnarounds nor format is an excuse for inaccuracy. In reality, we are always up against deadlines, and new information may become available, but errors of omission, partial truths and missing context dent our credibility.
Best practice is to update and, where necessary, correct information throughout the life of a story, and to be clear about which is which.
Post-publication, we must correct our errors, large or small, as soon as we become aware of them. Wording, styling and responsibilities for making corrections, updates and clarifications should follow the most recent guidance in the Style Guide.
As a general rule, we will prefer not to publish information attributed to anonymous sources. Providing clear provenance for facts and quotations builds the trust of readers in the credibility of our reporting.
Anonymous tips and talking confidentially to sources will always be an essential part of reporting, but in published stories, sources will be granted anonymity only for specific and crucial reasons. There are times when anonymous sourcing is unavoidable, notably to prevent an individual from being put in harm’s way or losing their job were they to be identified.
Where the anonymous source is central to the story, those should have the approval of the writer’s editor-in-chief before publication. We should avoid completely anonymously sourced stories, except in the most exceptional cases, where the Editorial Director’s consent is required.
In all cases, the source should be known to the writer, the story’s editor, and legal counsel if necessary, and similarly, the terms on which the writer has granted their source anonymity.
Writers should always weigh sources’ motives before granting anonymity and be in explicit agreement with the source whether that person is talking off-the-record or on background. The risk is ever-present that a source who wants anonymity does so in pursuit of an agenda. We should be watchful that we are not inadvertently used for ill.
We should make every effort to confirm and corroborate information provided anonymously through public records or on-the-record sources. We should also give readers as much information as possible to judge the origin, reliability and motivations of our anonymous sources short of revealing the individual’s identity.
Once we have agreed to anonymity, we honor that commitment. We will also be transparent with readers as to why we made such a decision.
Conflicts of interest
We should pay our way when covering stories to avoid any suspicion of quid pro quo.
The intention of those providing trips and access is to secure favorable coverage. If junkets, press tickets, review or test materials, or travel are necessary for some stories, they must be treated for what they are—a necessary evil when access would otherwise be impossible or we would be disadvantaged in producing timely coverage compared to rivals—and appropriately disclosed to readers.
As a rule of thumb, follow the Society of Professional Journalists’ guideline: “Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment…that may compromise integrity or impartiality or may damage credibility.”
Most of all, apply common sense.
Under no circumstances should staff accept employment, compensation or in-kind gifts from any individual or organization that falls within that staff member’s area of coverage.