Journalistic Ethics Policy

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 Your Journalism

  • 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.
  • Our reporters may express personal opinions in their own accounts on social networks.
  • We encourage our journalists to express opinions about journalism matters, advocating for freedom of information and joining the conversation within the profession about important issues.
  • Our journalists, salespeople and executives work to ensure that advertisers, sponsors and contributors have no influence over editorial content.
  • Despite our organization’s involvement in the issues we cover, we should provide factual coverage in a neutral voice. We should disclose our affiliation for transparency reasons, but the affiliation should not be evident from a promotional voice or content.

Bombs and Other Threats

  • We would only publish stories relating to bomb threats or other threats of violence when this has come from an authoritative and official source such as the police or festival organisers.

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 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.
  • We recognize that many sources cannot talk to us freely. We grant confidentiality if we think the source has a good reason. We will use information and quotes from unnamed sources we consider reliable.

Children: Coverage, Images and Interviews

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

Hostage Situations

  • We will cooperate with authorities’ recommendations in covering hostage situations.

Interviewing

  • Our organization never pays for interviews.
  • Our organization permits interviewees with transcripts to revise their comments to clarify complicated or technical matters.
  • Our organization will provide interview subjects with a general idea of our 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 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 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 report things that have clearly been established as fact at the top of the story and put the attribution in later.
  • We consistently include clear attributions throughout a story, even if something has been established as fact.

Accuracy

  • Our staff members must take responsibility for the accuracy of all information that we publish, using an accuracy checklist before publication.
  • Our staff members should take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of information that we publish and note our sources.
  • If we are unsure of the accuracy of information, we should cite our sources, word stories carefully to avoid spreading false rumors, acknowledge what we don’t know and ask the community’s help in confirming or correcting our information.
  • Reporters may read parts of stories to sources in order to check facts or make sure they understand technical points and procedures. But they should not read full stories to sources before publication and should make clear to the sources that they are only checking facts, not providing an opportunity to change the writing or approach to the story.
  • Reporters should fact-check before publication but should not preview any of the actual text of a story with sources.

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.”

Online Commenting

  • We do not permit comments on any of our articles.

Quotations

  • We will clean up random utterances such as pauses, “um” or “you know” unless they materially alter the meaning.
  • We will correct grammatical errors by all sources.
  • 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.
  • We will consider potential harm to sources facing intolerance in their societies before naming them in stories.

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 are encouraged to be involved in the community and the issues we cover, but we will disclose these involvements in our coverage.
  • We will provide factual coverage in a neutral voice despite our organization’s involvement in the issues we cover. We will disclose our affiliation for transparency reasons, but the affiliation should not be evident from a promotional voice or content.

Gifts, Free Travel and Other Perks

  • Our journalists may accept tickets or press passes to events we are covering or reviewing in addition to passes for their partner or friends

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 believe a link to a digital source is sometimes sufficient attribution; we need not always name the source in the text if the information is routine.
  • 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.
  • We should always cite news releases if they are our sources, and should quote them if using their exact words.

Social Networks

  • Our journalists are free to express opinions on social media.
  • We encourage staff members to retweet, reblog, share and otherwise pass along things they find interesting on social media. We trust them to provide context where appropriate.

Awards and Contests

  • We will assess the nature of the contest and make a decision consistent with our overall contest principles if we win a contest we did not enter.

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.
  • We will show all changes that have been made to online stories if they involve corrections or rephrasing to fix unclear material.
  • We will show all corrections in the place the incorrect material originally appeared (e.g., put corrections related to a story at the bottom of that same story).

Removing Archived Work

  • We will correct any errors we learn of in our archived content and note the corrections.
  • We will consider exceptions to our policy in extreme cases, such as abuse or danger to someone’s personal safety.

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 do not publish automatically generated stories or ‘robot journalism’ Where we publish press releases on behalf of an event, this is clearly labelled as a press release both above and below the article and is not presented as a news story

Hate Speech

  • We report on hate speech and actions and include original offensive expressions in most cases.
  • 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 use the phrases “died by suicide” or “killed himself or herself” and avoid the phrases “committed suicide” and “took his or her own life.”
  • We will not describe a suicide attempt as “successful” or “unsuccessful.”
  • We will not use sensational headlines on stories about suicide.
  • We will not use graphic images on stories about suicide.

Naming suspects

  • We will name criminal suspects if we have their identifications confirmed by sources we trust.

Obscenities

  • We will fully reflect the way sources speak, including their use of obscenities, vulgarities or slurs.
  • Online we will allow obscenities, vulgarities and slurs in non-quoted material if they fit with the voice of the writer and tone of the outlet.

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.
  • 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.
  • We will voluntarily withhold information we have gathered when requested if we deem the individual’s request to be valid, based on our news judgment and professional standards.
  • We reserve the right to publish material that we have voluntarily withheld if we determine that the material has valid public interest or if we feel that the requesting party has deceived us as to his or her motives.

Race and Gender

  • 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.

Audio

  • Audio cuts of newsmakers may be edited to remove insignificant stumbles.

Data Journalism

  • We will put all data in relevant context.
  • We will secure data to the best extent possible to prevent hacking.

Photo and Video

  • 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 edit or manipulate images only if doing so doesn’t affect the news content of the image or the meaning viewers will make from it.
  • 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.
  • 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 consider UGC an extension of our own journalism. We don’t run such material unless we’re sure it’s authentic.

Accepting money

  • We will publicly disclose all funding sources.

TheFestivals is an independent website funded from affiliate revenue when products or event tickets are purchased through links from this website, or from display advertising revenue.

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 will accurately reflect the content of related stories in headlines and social media posts.
  • We will use metric considerations as one of a number of factors in determining what we cover and how we place stories.

News and Advertising

  • We do not allow advertisements for certain types of products.
  • We may accept payment from advertisers to provide stories on a general subject, but they will have no involvement in the content produced.
  • We have specific, consistent definitions of terms like “Advertisement,” “Sponsored Content” and “Message from …” and disclose them to our readers.
  • We will allow advertising anywhere on our publication or site.
  • We will assist advertisers in creating advertising material.
  • We require news-like content produced by advertisers to be clearly identified as advertising.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.