Standards for Ethical Conduct

You are accountable for your actions and must consider yourself as such, not only by assuming responsibility for your work, but by staying informed about the ramifications your work may have.

Ethical Behavior

To behave in an ethical manner:

  • Give credit where credit is due
  • Avoid misrepresenting people or issues
  • Avoid presenting information out of context
  • Distinguish genuine content from advertising
  • Only present your own, original work (and do not plagiarize)
  • Present information with honesty, integrity, competence, and due diligence
  • Avoid jobs, fees, perks, gifts, associations, and activities that compromise your integrity
  • Make it clear when your work is meant to be an editorial or op-ed (and therefore may not present balanced, unbiased coverage of an issue)
  • Own up to mistakes in a timely manner across all channels on which the mistake was presented

Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest

To maintain an open, professional, and trustworthy reputation, disclosure of certain details and relationships is essential.

When not obvious, disclose (at the time of publication) the following potential conflicts of interest:

  • Personal bias
  • Private gifts from sources
  • Free travel received from sources
  • Personal relationships with a given source or topic
  • Participation in political campaigns (if covering political subjects)
  • Payment from sources in return for coverage of a specific story
  • Promotional relationships (such as those with advertisers or sponsors)
  • Special treatment from sources (such as free products, free admission)
  • Friends or family with a personal relationship with a given source or topic
  • Personal benefit that might be received as a result of coverage of a given source or topic
  • Professional relationships with a given source or topic (e.g. an employer, a client, a personal company or charity)

Disclosure should be prominent and presented directly alongside (or within) relevant content (rather than on a separate page or in fine print).

Interaction with Public Audiences and Sources

When interacting with the public:

  • Do not re-tweet, re-post, or otherwise spread information without verifying its authenticity and trustworthiness; if unverified information must be shared, explicitly state that said information has not been fact checked
  • Establish a clear policy for banning users, removing links, and removing user-generated content (if an admin of a site) and stick to it
  • Establish a clear policy for comment moderation (e.g. delete all personal attacks, only allow signed-in members of a site to comment, etc.) and stick to it
  • Do not alter comments or user-generated content (e.g. to make it ‘acceptable’); leave user-generated content intact or do not publish it at all (an exception would be a case in which you are adhering to known policies about removing content or links)
  • Respect others’ reasonable expectations of privacy (especially with regard to children, personal/private issues, and tragedy)
  • Avoid sharing content in a manner that may cause undue harm
  • Avoid compromising individuals’ right to a fair trial
  • Avoid acting contrary to the public interest

Interaction with Clients, Collaborative Partners, and Employers

Honestly represent yourself, your work, and your credentials to audiences and prospective clients/employers, as well as collaborative partners.

Before working with a new party, clearly define:

  • The specific license(s) given to work created within the scope of the given project or contract
  • Mutual expectations
  • Specific procedures and evaluation criteria, as well as accountability and deadlines for milestones and project completion

Use of Platforms and Internet Hosts

When working through an external publishing platform, social network, or web host:

  • Adhere to the platform or host’s terms of service
  • Respect community norms
  • Contribute content and interactions of real value to the community (rather than purely promotional work)