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Standards of Behavior

The Values And Beliefs That Inform Our Work

  • Our journalism and programming should be valuable, credible, accurate, entertaining, fair, and relevant.
  • Accurate, fact-based journalism contributes to the health of our communities.
  • Everyone deserves access to high-quality news, information, and programming.
  • Democracy and civic participation are good things.
  • Holding the powerful to account strengthens our democracy.
  • Systemic racism exists. We have an obligation to combat it, even as we’re on our own respective journeys.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion — in everything we do — are critical to our success.
  • We are facing a climate emergency.
  • We are committed to both serving and working with our audience. Offering solutions, when possible, and treating community members’ questions as a starting point for meaningful reporting makes us stronger.

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Standards of Practice>>

Access

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers gain access to sources and information by being honest about our identities, our intentions and asking for participation. We don’t make promises about story content or visibility in exchange for access or information. For example, we wouldn’t exchange a promise of story placement for access to a newsmaker. We also don’t make promises regarding story angles or approach. It’s acceptable, though, to discuss in general terms the story we’re considering or our general line of reporting. It’s also acceptable, when necessary and with an editor’s approval, to agree to protect a source’s identity or to a temporary embargo. If necessary, reporters should make clear to sources that editorial decisions are up to the editors and producers. SCPR staffers do not pay sources for information.

Accountability

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers take full responsibility for their work. Staffers who represent the work of others as their own violate the trust of their colleagues and audience. When we report information that we’ve learned from other media, we cite those other media as the source in audio and link directly on our websites. We try to get such information on our own, independently of other media, and report it in a way that goes beyond what’s appeared elsewhere. The work we present as our own will be original composition, not copied from news releases or other sources, even when the authors of those other sources would be happy for us to do so. Above all, we’ll strive to be accurate. We will confirm information before reporting it, and we will never knowingly report false information. We will listen to our audiences and be respectful of criticism. We will respond civilly to correspondence that warrants reply. Errors of fact will happen. If our journalists notice an error in published work, they will promptly tell a news leader. If anyone requests a correction, the request will be forwarded to a news leader. We’ll strive to correct our errors quickly.

Appearances with other media

Members of the Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) news staff are sometimes interviewed on other media or asked to moderate panels. Such appearances can help raise the profile of Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) and its staffers, and they can help our journalists stay connected to the communities we serve. At the same time, outside appearances can present problems. Here are some guidelines to help avoid the complex conflicts that may arise:

  1. News staff must get permission for appearances with other media outlets. A request should be made to the staffer’s editor and reviewed by at least one senior news leader. When they approve such a request, news leaders will inform the marketing and communications departments.
  2. News staff must consider whether the tone and content of the media outlet are consistent with Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) editorial standards. Staff should remember that, regardless of the format or character of the outlet involved, they need to conduct themselves according to Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) standards.
  3. Our journalists may not accept compensation for occasional outside media appearances. If appearances become regular, staffers may accept reimbursement from the other news outlet, including expenses associated with appearances. Full disclosure of such payments must be made in advance to the staffer’s editor. A staffer who wants to accept such compensation should make a request in writing to their editor, who will then forward the request for review by the head of the newsroom.
  4. News staffers must not appear on an outside media outlet to endorse services or market products, except for marketing Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) programs or co-branded ventures with other organizations.
  5. The procedure for vetting appearances does not apply to Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) contractors, contributors, and freelance journalists. However, if a freelancer says something on another media outlet that violates SCPR's journalistic standards, we may stop using their work.

Appearances for the underwriting and development departments

We want to avoid situations that could present real or perceived conflicts of interest that harm the credibility of Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) journalists or content. All requests for underwriting or development appearances by SCPR staffers require approval from our newsrooms’ news leaders. SCPR leaders view funders and underwriters differently based on the nature of their relationship with the company. Underwriters essentially are advertisers who want to enhance their business; funders generally want to raise awareness around an issue in the news. The following guidelines are based on that distinction:

  1. Participation in an event sponsored by an underwriter or a funder must be approved in advance by the head of the newsroom.
  2. Underwriting staff will not discuss business prospects or suggest editorial content with news staff except for news leaders. Underwriting staff and news leaders may discuss logistics and content of Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) events, though news leaders and their producers control the editorial content of those events.
  3. Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) news leaders may work with the development department to explore funding possibilities with foundations that share SCPR’s editorial priorities as well as participate in events with funders during the period of the funding, including appearances, panels and event hosting.
  4. As always, SCPR staff will make all content decisions independently. Our journalists’ first loyalty will be to the public, not to underwriters or other benefactors.

Appearances with outside organizations

As a journalistic organization, Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) is part of the public discourse on issues and events. SCPR supports its journalists’ participation in forums on such issues and events and encourages them to provide information, analysis, and insight.

  1. When appearing before an outside group, news staffers must make clear they are there as independent news providers, not as partisan advocates. They should stick to their reporting and areas of expertise and avoid taking sides. We will avoid appearances that seem to endorse the partisan agenda of a group or organization.
  2. Appearances before outside groups must be approved in advance by the head of the newsroom.
  3. Accepting money can make a journalist beholden to the source of that money, and the result can be a real or perceived conflict of interest. Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers should not do any work or accept compensation for any events that could reasonably be perceived to cast doubt on SCPR’s journalistic integrity. When a staffer is approved to accept a paid speaking invitation — typically on their own time and requiring prep work — the staffer must disclose compensation and paid expenses to his or her supervisor. Staffers should not accept paid speaking engagements that might create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
  4. Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers who have written books or have produced other outside projects and want to promote them must make specific arrangements with their supervisors. A news leader will inform the marketing department of such promotion.

Art and public radio

Public radio has close ties to the arts. Minnesota Public Radio (also part of APMG), for example, broadcasts two music services and presents an array of live events with various artists. As a result, our arts reporters may be at risk for appearing to favor artists with whom our company has a relationship. That means they must have a special awareness of the need to avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts. Our first loyalty must be to the public, not to the artists we cover.

Our staffers may not support artists — promote them on Twitter, for example — or connect them to the arts and cultural services of MPR. The application of this entry should also be considered based on specific situations and timing. For example, if you’re a reporter working on the resurgent Broadway economy, it’s unwise to tweet about your admiration for “Hamilton.” But if you’re a Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) reporter working on an investigation, it’s OK to tweet about the first season of “Ted Lasso.” Our staffers also may not invest in productions that figure, or are likely to figure, in their coverage.

Avoiding outside influence

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) executes journalism in service to its many audiences and communities. Our allegiance is to the public — not funders, foundations, underwriters, the people we cover or the people who sit on our board or in our executive suites. We risk compromising our credibility if personal or professional interests conflict with that allegiance. Such conflicts could take many forms, via personal relationships, business interests or in other ways. No rule can cover every situation. As professional journalists, we will strive to be alert to any factor that may keep us from thinking independently and exercising our best professional judgment. Raise any questions or concerns about potential conflicts of interest with news leaders.

Awards

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) will participate in contests that exist to recognize journalistic excellence in general and in specific coverage areas. Staffers should decline most unsolicited awards and politely turn down recognition from advocacy groups whose only interest in journalism is to publicize their cause.

Conflict of interest

An ethics policy can’t cover everything. The general principle is this: Outside activities by news staff should not compromise the impartiality of Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) journalism. That said, news leaders will regularly remind news staff of potential conflicts and review any risky areas. When necessary, we’ll make changes. In unimportant but visible instances that require no change, we’ll explain our rationale. Upon taking an assignment, it is the duty of all news staffers to immediately disclose to news leaders any interests that might be seen as being in actual, apparent or potential conflict.

Coverage of American Public Media Group (APMG) and its businesses

Southern California Public Media (KPCC/LAist) is a non-profit organization operated as part of the American Public Media Group (APMG).
When our company is in the news, we will take special care to remember that Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) exists to serve the public. SCPR staffers cover their company the same way they would cover any other company when warranted. At times, we will hold ourselves accountable as we hold others accountable. No APMG employee from departments outside the SCPR newsroom should be involved in the coverage. SCPR news staffers do not advocate in support of our political imperatives or business interests, though obvious exceptions are participation in fundraising and membership drives.

Family ties and personal relationships

The affiliations and activities of family members may create conflicts of interest for news staff. For example, a family member who works for a state agency would obviously create the appearance of a conflict for a reporter assigned to cover that agency. A companion holding an officer’s position in a noteworthy company might produce the appearance of conflict for a business reporter or editor. A daughter’s work on the campaign of a political candidate would conflict with her mother’s job as a reporter covering that race.

To avoid such conflicts, staffers may not produce, report, or edit any news content — photographs, audio, written reports, video, blog items, tweets — involving people to whom they are related or with whom they have close personal relationships. Additionally, they must avoid making news judgments about them. Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) certainly can’t insist that family members restrict their activities or change professions. However, we may change a staffer’s responsibility based on the activities of a family member. Staffers must inform an editor whenever a companion’s or close relative’s activities, investments or affiliations could create a conflict.

Financial and business coverage

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers who cover business may face unique conflicts. This section identifies specific areas of concern. At all times, staffers must avoid this behavior for fear our journalism could appear compromised.

  1. Confidential information: Staffers should not use, directly or indirectly, for their own or any other person’s financial gain, any information that they obtained as a reporter until sometime after they have reported it. Further, a staffer should not disclose to anyone confidential information obtained as a SCPR journalist until the information has been made public.
  2. Real or perceived conflict: Staffers are expected to avoid any action, no matter how well- intentioned, that could provide grounds for suspicion. Examples:

    a. That a staffer gained financially because of “inside” information obtained through reporting. Such information includes plans to run stories that can affect price movements.

    b. That the writing or airing of a news story was influenced by a desire to affect financial transactions for a staffer’s or someone else’s benefit.

    c. That a staffer is financially committed in the market so deeply or in such other ways as to create a temptation to biased writing or scheduling.

    d. That a staffer is beholden to anyone we cover, through acceptance of favors, gifts or payments for performing services, or to anyone in the financial community for tips or for any other purpose.

  3. Stocks and investments: We do not want to penalize staff by suggesting that they not buy stocks or make any investments. However, there are limitations because of the work we do and the fact that our staff members may become aware of material, non-public information about publicly traded companies that could influence securities prices. It is imperative that our staff and freelancers never use such information to benefit themselves or to tip off others. Trading on such information or tipping off others can result in federal prosecution. To avoid any appearance of illegal conduct, staff members may not hold or trade in the securities of any publicly traded companies they cover regularly. If you or an immediate family member directly own a company’s stock and that company becomes relevant to a story you’re covering, you must inform a news leader and the story will be reassigned. We also want staff to avoid speculation or the appearance of speculation. Therefore, staff members must not engage in short-term trading and must hold securities a minimum of six months unless they get approval from a news leader to meet some special need. They must not buy or sell speculative instruments such as futures or options. No employee should engage in short selling of securities. Any staffer may be asked about their investments and must provide detailed information about their holdings and trading activity when asked to do so. 

Freelance work by SCPR staff

All outside, paid work — including work for another APMG news operation and NPR — must be done on a staffer’s own time. (The exceptions are arrangements by our regional newsrooms with NPR.) The work must not seriously compete with any of our newsrooms. We don’t enter into agreements to do freelance work for organizations we cover. Before accepting a freelance assignment, staffers should make sure the assignment will not compromise their or Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) journalistic standards. They should adhere to SCPR's ethics guidelines in carrying out the assignment. A freelance employer may identify SCPR staff members by their SCPR positions, but only in a routine way. All freelance work must be approved by SCPR's news leaders.

Freelancers working for SCPR

Freelancers are expected to execute their journalism without conflicts and must follow Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) standards of professionalism. It is the responsibility of editors and producers to ask about a freelancer’s potential conflicts of interest before making an assignment.

Free equipment

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staff may not accept gifts of equipment or materials from manufacturers or vendors. They may not endorse equipment. If a manufacturer seeks advice on product design, any compensation for that advice should be disclosed in advance to the staffer’s supervisor and must be approved by the supervisor.

Funders

This section is intended to help Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) interact with foundations and individual donors (“funders”) in a way that protects our journalistic integrity and makes clear our boundaries. The integrity of Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) journalism and programming is built upon a commitment to serve the public with independent, unbiased news reporting and programming. That’s why it’s critical that SCPR staff maintain a steady journalistic ethic when interacting with funders. Transparency is the key principle.

  1. Contacting news leaders: A request from a funder to contact the newsroom typically should come through the development office. The request will be forwarded to the head of news. Discussion about issues that align with SCPR coverage priorities is welcome.
  2. Coverage focus: Newsroom leaders, editors and show producers will determine how to cover a particular topic in a way that best serves audiences. Such decisions are made irrespective of any funding.
  3. Disclosing financial support: If a funder is quoted or mentioned in a web or radio story, SCPR will disclose the financial relationship.
  4. Funders as sources: Representatives of funders or donors who believe they have knowledge to contribute to SCPR may contact the development office. News staffs and show producers may use funder representatives as sources but must disclose the funding relationship.
  5. Funders as commentators: Our shows will not broadcast one-voice, point-of-view commentaries from foundation executives. It is permissible for commentators to be supported by a funder that also funds SCPR, if they are subject to the same criteria for selection, identification, and disclosure as other commentators.
  6. Funders in the news: SCPR will judge and report news about funders and donors without special consideration and will disclose the financial relationship in those news reports.

General conduct

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) expects its journalists to behave professionally and civilly. We will treat people with decency and compassion. NPR’s ethics policy says it clearly: “The general public is the most important stakeholder in our work, but everyone we cover is also an important stakeholder. We practice ethical journalism by doing our best to minimize harm as we report information in the public interest.” SCPR journalists remember that the public includes a cross-section of people with a range of experiences and cultural backgrounds. Journalists will take special care with people who are in the news but aren’t used to the media’s glare, especially children.

SCPR journalists will make the effort to see a story through a variety of lenses, including through race, class, and gender. Our journalists always should disclose their identity when pursuing the news and never pose as anyone else. We’ll work transparently and try not to surprise sources about the substance of our stories. Remembering that we always represent SCPR, we will strive to show courtesy and professionalism in our interactions with sources and the public. In all instances, we must obey the law in the pursuit of news.

Gifts

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers may not accept anything for free or anything discounted from current or potential news subjects. (Items valued at $20 or less are OK — for example, a tin of holiday cookies sent by a mayor to reporters covering City Hall. Dodgers tickets, however, would need to be returned.) Only staffers assigned to cover an event may accept press passes or review tickets to that event.

Hospitality from sources and access to events

Staffers who cover artistic events or are assigned to cover sports may accept press passes or tickets. No other staffers, however, may accept free tickets. When buying tickets, staffers may not use their Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) affiliation to get favored treatment. SCPR staffers pay their own expenses when out with news sources or travel to cover them. Reasonable exceptions can be made, however — when a corporate dining room is the site for an interview, for example. Free or discounted transportation and lodging is OK in rare, specific instances with a news leader’s advance approval — viewing a storm-damaged area from a government-owned helicopter, for example.

Misuse of our name

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) can’t be used for a staffer’s private purpose or to seek special treatment for friends or family. SCPR journalists may not use company ID cards for purposes not connected with SCPR or for any manner of special treatment. Also, Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) -branded material can only be used for the business of reporting or producing.

Partnerships and testimonials

Staffers may not partner in external projects that involve people or organizations our newsrooms may cover. Staffers may not offer endorsements or testimonials, except in assigned reviews or commentaries.

Previewing art

Staffers may keep review copies of books, films, music, etc., which are effectively press releases. If not kept by the staffer, the material may be given to a charity or used as a reference internally. The art may not be sold or copied. Recorded or digital media must be deleted or returned if not kept by the journalist or given to a charity.

Privileged information

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers should not use any unpublished information obtained during newsgathering for their own or anyone else’s special advantage or personal gain. Moreover, they should not share their reporting with anyone inside or outside of an APMG division who may exploit that information. Further, staffers should not disclose to anyone confidential information about APMG matters.

Public life

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers must keep their political opinions private. They may not seek public office. To do so would be to participate in the news instead of covering the news. It would also risk having the staffer’s politics associated with SCPR, creating the perception of political bias. For the same reason, we do not participate in rallies or make appearances in support of a controversial, partisan cause or campaign. When covering political or partisan marches, we should be clearly distinguished as working journalists, typically with our credentials on display. Staffers may not raise money or contribute money to political or social causes that go beyond the groups described in the section headlined “Service in our communities.” We don’t advocate with yard signs or bumper stickers. In the event a staffer’s significant other wants to make a public political statement, a news leader should be advised. And even when our company publicly voices an opinion, SCPR staffers will maintain their journalistic impartiality.

Public relations advice

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers can’t provide paid or unpaid public relations work or counsel. And they may not provide advice, writing or editing services for outside groups. (Some exceptions are included under “Service in the communities.”) Any request to participate in a public relations workshop must be approved by a senior news leader.

Relationships with sources

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) staffers keep a personal distance from news sources for fear of creating a hint of bias. Staffers may meet sources informally for lunch, for example, but they must stay aware of the difference between a business relationship and personal friendship. It’s too chummy, for example, for a business reporter to share regular morning runs with an executive of a company they cover. Romantic relationships with sources carry high risk and will certainly create an appearance of partiality. No single rule can cover every possible situation. As a result, staffers should openly discuss any questionable situation with an editor. No action might be necessary, or a change in assignment might be in order.

Revenue departments

Gathering news is expensive. As a result, news leaders are encouraged to communicate with our underwriting and development departments to connect editorial goals with funding opportunities. However, Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) leaders must maintain a clear boundary between news coverage and business imperatives and have final authority over all journalistic decisions. To ensure that reporters and editors are left free to work without consideration of funding or business issues, only news leaders may exchange information with the underwriting or development departments about the timing or content of our reporting or the assignment of staff.

Service in our communities

Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) expects its journalists to be good, engaged citizens with close ties to their communities. If community service creates a conflict that might prevent a staffer from covering an issue, that staffer must let his or her editor know. Participating in a group relevant to one’s identity (race, gender, religious beliefs) does not in itself create a conflict. SCPR staffers and their leaders should avoid committees and boards of newsworthy organizations and certainly all government panels. It’s OK to help organizations that typically are out of the news, such as various community and civic groups — sports leagues and local/volunteer/community theater groups, for example, and houses of worship, though they do appear in the news from time to time. Staffers also can provide service to journalistic education. And there may be other exceptions. However, if membership in one of these organizations starts to pose a conflict due to the group emerging in the news, that staffer must alert an editor. Fundraising is OK, but staffers shouldn’t direct the project or pitch to people with whom they or SCPR has journalistic dealings.

Social media

Social media plays a key role in our journalism. It has become an essential part of the newsgathering and dialogue that our journalists engage in daily. Social media allows us to engage in wider conversations with our audiences and reach more people with our work. It can provide behind-the-scenes context to our editorial process, allow readers and listeners to contribute to our reporting and be a channel to new sources.

We should use official Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist) accounts, as well as our personal social media accounts, with an eye toward fulfilling our mission as public media. Our posts should be fair and thoughtful. And they should always be based in fact. Overall, we trust each other to use sound judgment on social media with a goal of advancing audiences’ understanding of important issues. If there's ever a doubt, ask yourself: “What is this post going to add? Does it really need to be said?” Here are three filters to help answer that question:

  1. Will it help audiences understand new perspectives or deepen their perspectives?
  2. Will it help audiences understand my methods as a journalist or understand the standards and priorities of Southern California Public Radio (KPCC/LAist)?
  3. Will it help audiences understand how my identity and lived experiences strengthen my reporting?

If you’ve given yourself a green light so far, finally ask: “Would I say it into a microphone?” Still unsure? Don’t post.

There are also risks to social media. We must be mindful that we represent SCPR and that everything we post, even in a personal capacity, reflects upon our newsrooms. That said, we’re supportive of showing our non-work personalities on social media whether it be boasting about our magical bread baking or showing our fervent support for a sports team.

These guidelines are intended to provide principles to help you decide what’s appropriate to post online. In some places the document allows for good judgment and stops short of imposing a rule. No matter, the guidelines should always be considered and taken seriously. We consider this a “living document” that will be reviewed and updated periodically.

  1. Audience engagement: When using social media platforms to report, we’re transparent about our identities as journalists. We’re aware that our conduct online can affect our reporting and the trust people have in us and our newsrooms. We don’t promise stories or coverage before the journalistic process is complete and are mindful of how social media interactions can be interpreted as showing favor toward certain people or groups. When using social media to engage people on a certain topic or story, we look for opportunities to encourage wide participation, foster dialogue and understanding and share information that’s relevant or actionable. However, we can always refuse to engage on social media with people espousing discriminatory ideas.We’re also aware that while many social media posts are public, retweeting or quoting them in news stories can amplify a message in a way that could harm the sources or subjects of those posts. If we decide, in consultation with colleagues, to quote a social media post in a story, we will provide the context next to the quote.
  2. Accuracy and corrections: Tweets or other social media posts with erroneous information should be corrected quickly, just as we correct errors in stories on the air or online. If you tweet an error, correct the information as soon as you learn of the mistake. Be transparent. Example: Correction: Mainville Mayor Jane Smith’s birthplace was incorrectly reported in an earlier tweet. She was born in Chicago.

    If you decide to delete the incorrect tweet, quickly acknowledge the deletion in a subsequent tweet. Example: We have deleted a previous tweet that incorrectly reported the state’s expected budget surplus total. A corrected tweet follows. There are several ways to correct an erroneous tweet or social media post, depending on the platform. If you have the option to edit the original post, edit and be clear about what you are editing and why.

    Whether you choose to delete a tweet or correct a tweet via a thread or retweet is up to you; some things to keep in mind include how the original tweet was shared and what harm has been done. One of the primary reasons for deleting is that it can prevent people from sharing inaccurate information. Arguments for not deleting include transparency — some could accuse you of trying to hide mistakes. Columbia Journalism Review has more on thisif you’d like additional guidance.

  3. Breaking news: During breaking news situations, we understand that events unfold rapidly, information is fluid and that some details previously reported may turn out to be inaccurate. Be cautious about what you choose to share. Ask: Who is the source? How do they know this information? Do they have direct knowledge or is it secondhand? Be transparent about what you know and what you don’t. As information changes, explain what is new. Provide attribution for every important detail (including in threads), share only what you’ve vetted and link only to sources that you trust. Make sure you’re using terms precisely and accurately. If you’re unsure of your post, ask for a second or third person to review your language.

    When sharing information or images from a breaking news situation, do so with the context that the situation is changing quickly, and that the post is just one piece of a larger story. If you share something that’s eventually inaccurate, correct it as soon as possible, using the corrections procedure outlined above.

  4. Sharing: We encourage you to share, discuss and amplify great work, not just of your own and your colleagues’ but by other news organizations that you value. Doing so will help build trust in you as a reporter and better serve our audiences — and know that they generally prefer to engage with individual journalists rather than institutional accounts. Be careful about sharing exclusive or sensational news reporting.Be cautious about sharing politicians’ posts, except when there’s news value. To add reportorial distance, you can quote-tweet the post with an explanation, like “Here’s the latest from a city council member.”

    While we’re generous with sharing reporting from our colleagues, we should also be freehanded with credit. If you’re sharing, for example, a photo from a breaking news event, be sure to credit the photographer. Avoid downloading content produced by another user and reuploading it onto a social platform. Always share the original material whenever possible. Doing so reduces your exposure to copyright issues and helps to prevent the spread of misinformation by presenting images out of context.

  5. Safety and security: When social media turns nasty, we won’t respond in kind. We shouldn’t be petty. We shouldn’t make fun of anyone or use sarcasm at anyone’s expense. We shouldn’t use our platform to pile on to anybody. Even in a heated exchange, we will be civil, maintaining the same professionalism that we would in an adversarial interview.We should be open to feedback. Try asking questions to understand concerns, rather than immediately going on the defensive. If someone questions the accuracy of specific facts in a story, follow up on their concerns. We can respond to criticism that mischaracterizes a story, share reporting that takes others to task and disprove widely circulating falsehoods. And we can do so without invective.

    OK: Early in the story, I quoted someone who brought up this exact point. You’re right we can’t say definitively yet, but this is what we know so far.

    Not OK: Is it really that hard for you? Next time try getting past the headline before you comment. You idiots might find that we write about these things with nuance.

    There’s no obligation to respond to anyone who is abusive or attacks our personhood. Often, ignoring them is the best response, and we support our journalists’ rights to block such users and remove harmful comments. If at any point you feel threatened by someone online, tell your supervisor.

    We also don’t want our reporting to put others in danger. If you learn that something you’ve posted could put someone’s safety at risk, including photos and videos of them taken in public, consult with your editor about whether to delete it.

  6. Fairness, balance and perception: As journalists, our credibility is indispensable to everything we do. We publish only what’s supported by fact. Our social media posts should meet that same standard. We should avoid endorsing — through posting, retweeting, sharing, or liking — a political party, policy, official or candidate.

    We shouldn’t take sides on fraught social issues like gun laws or abortion and should consult an editor if we have questions on how to handle topics such as these. We should refrain from posting product endorsements, customer service complaints or inviting preferential treatment — either explicitly or implicitly — from businesses that might be aware of our public personae.

    We shouldn’t make a habit of calling out the journalism of others, including that of our colleagues; where we do, it should be to mend errors or misrepresentations that have the potential to undermine the public’s understanding of an important issue. We shouldn’t make comments that are racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise discriminatory. We don’t engage in name-calling, snark, or hyperbole. And we should take care to not oversimplify or inflame public discourse on nuanced or polarizing topics.That said, our newsroom’s standing as a fair and impartial source of information is premised on certain values: We believe in First Amendment rights, civil rights, science, critical thought, civil discourse, the democratic process, and our stated organizational values. We do not consider expressions of support for these values to be problematic or controversial.

    As journalists, our social media posts should illuminate and inform; they should not castigate, politicize, or demean any person or institution, including APMG. Statements of fact, even if they put people or companies in a negative light, are acceptable. When disputes arise internally, we encourage in-person conversations rather than taking complaints to social media.We also do not discourage our colleagues from appropriately sharing lived experiences as long as those posts uphold the principles outlined in this policy.

    Online groups can be fertile grounds for gathering information and identifying sources. However, participation in a group can be construed as an endorsement of its views.Consider whether you can accomplish your purposes by observing a group’s activity, rather than becoming a member. If you can’t, consult your editor and contemplate joining a group representing a competing viewpoint, if reasonable. Leave groups once your work in them is done and never conceal your identity as a journalist. 

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Standards of Practice>>

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