right vs wrong signLoveland Local News (LLN) is built upon a foundation which includes independence, honesty, reliability and objectivity. Everything we do and publish will be built upon these core values. It is impossible to foresee all the situations we will encounter involving ethics, sources and other challenges. Nevertheless, this document is intended to outline the vital procedures and protocols to apply in our daily operations.

Responsibilities:

  • Personal conduct is an essential part of LLN’s credibility and reputation. Employees and contributors are expected to behave, on and away from the job, in ways that enhance the standing of LLN.
  • Affiliates of LLN are expected to avoid activities as well as financial arrangements which may create a conflict of interest or the appearance of such for LLN.
  • Questions and concerns about sources, ethics, or even coverage ought to be raised in advance, and discussed whenever possible.
  • Fact gathering is essential and it is important we process matters from various points of view before deciding on the best option and course to take.

The standards we employ are taken in part from the established standards and practices of many other organizations and media outlets. Any additions or exceptions to our stated policies must be brought before the LLN community advisory board, or in cases where time is of the essence, must be approved by a senior editor.

Sources and Attribution

Our goal is to publish relevant and accurate content which is often overlooked by the commercial media. Our added objective is to always adhere to the well-established guidelines for fair and objective reporting. This responsibility includes thorough researching as well as quoting sources correctly. And with every story we will be transparent, giving readers of our content the necessary information to evaluate the relevance and credibility of our sourcing.

Practices and Procedures:

  • Whenever possible we utilize multiple primary sources and do our own original reporting.
  • On-the-record sources for quotes will always be our preference. In the case of unnamed sources, please refer to the guidelines below.
  • We will employ common sense as well as good instincts to identify unreliable and inaccurate information. When in doubt, dubious information will be researched further or left out entirely. Internet sources must be verified and all email communications determined genuine.
  • We will always make clear from where the information came. Original sources will be credited. And in cases when we are not present for an interview or an event, we will not imply otherwise.

Special Arrangements with Sources

Agreements made with sources amount to a contract and as such may levy legal obligations on LLN. All affiliates must consider carefully any special understanding or arrangement with a source, including consent to keep their name confidential. Discussing implications in advance with an editor is advisable.

Occasionally parts of an interview with a confidential source can later be put on the record with explicit permission. Regardless, we recommend asking confidential sources whether they are willing to be identified in cases where publication results in legal action being taken against LLN.

The same principles of sound journalism apply to confidential sources as do on-the-record reporting. We expect all employees and affiliates to utilize multiples sources and to fact-check rigorously. Unnamed sources ought to be defined as accurately as is possible while still maintaining their confidentiality.

Some sources are more experienced and savvy in dealing with journalists. They will and may assert and will understand any arrangement of confidentiality. Other sources will not. So it is important to make sure there is no confusion about any agreement made with a source, not only what material is not available for attribution.

Information obtained from confidential sources will be published only when the following criteria is met:

  1. The information is important and absolutely relevant to the story.
  2. The information is not available publically and cannot be obtained on the record.
  3. The information is from a credible source.
  4. The sources have a legitimate reason for requesting/requiring confidentiality.

Editor(s) are tasked with determining whether these criteria have been met. Typically, the editor will also know the identity of the source and will also be obligated to keep this information confidential.

Coverage

Plagiarism and fabrication

We will not tolerate claiming credit for another person’s work. You must give cite your sources and be attentive to copyright laws when utilizing information from others. Never invent quotes or create fictitious characters. Pay special attention to the accuracy when reconstructing narratives, and always name the source of this information. And remember photos and videos must not be staged or altered digitally so as to mislead readers.

Identifying yourself

Identify yourself to people and do not mislead them about who you are. Journalists typically make clear their newsgathering intentions when researching a story. Nonetheless, it may be appropriate to observe without announcing your role in public settings or other large gatherings. LLN typically does not operate undercover. An activity of this nature should be approved ahead of time by the Editor.

Sharing work before publication

LLN determines which stories to publish and grants no authority to others to make changes. Nonetheless, we practice and encourage fact-checking of material in order to ensure accuracy. Staff members assisting in this process will typically only share the relevant parts of a work, not the entire piece. In the course of daily business, staff members may hear sensitive information from their colleagues about work in progress and should not share it outside of the organization.

Conflicts of Interest

Work outside of normal activities, including investments, social organizations, and political activism, pose unique challenges for journalists. If possible, journalists ought to refrain from activities that impair their job functions. Involvement in a particular interest may preclude them from working on specific tasks for LLN. Also, it is necessary to publically disclose any information of user of the LLN might find relevant to understanding the content. For example, a reporter who is writing about a family member would be obligated to disclose the relationship. Similarly, a guest contributor writing about a development project would need to disclose his associated relationship with the builder. The absolute full disclosure of pertinent information is standard practice for LLN. Even so, release of this information is not always sufficient when a potential conflict of interest exists.

Money and gifts

Financial conflicts of interest with business and organizations you regularly cover must be avoided. You should not have any equity in or be working to receive economic benefits from any company you report on consistently, and about which you make news decisions. Refrain from invoking LLN’s name whenever handling personal business. And do not accept or pursue preferential treatment or favors from your sources or other organizations.

Certain situations might provoke questions about LLN’s integrity and impartiality. Be sure to discuss and to resolve any questions beforehand with an editor. Areas of concern include employment outside of LLN, volunteering your services, paid speaking engagements, participation in advertising or marketing, and freelance work. Avoid and decline any gifts. Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, always pay for your own meals. Additionally, do not accept free travel.

Free admission is permissible, only if offered, to a work-related event. These may include a performance, movie, or political meeting. Promotional materials such as CDs, books, downloads, movies, etc. received for review should be used for the intended purpose and kept. They must not be sold for personal gain.

Decisions to cover an event are made without regard to free admission and the availability of promotional materials. Donors, advertisers and others with whom LLN has organizational ties are not given preferential treatment in news coverage decisions. Sources will never be compensated for information or interviews.

Family and friends

You must recuse yourself from news decisions and coverage involving any close friends, family members or organizations with whom you or they have a leadership role or financial interest. Similarly, you not should directly supervise, hire or approve payments to a close friend or family member.

Organizations and politics

It is your right to join organizations and to voice your opinions. Nonetheless, in the event you or a close relative are involved in anything controversial which might attract news attention, you will be precluded from contributing to LLN’s coverage and any related decisions.

You are strongly advised to avoid activities that may jeopardize or raise questions about the integrity and impartiality of LLN. Participation and involvement in your neighborhood, church, school or professional organizations rarely lead to any problem. However, in activities which are likely to engender controversy, you are urged to refrain. On this list would be donations to political causes or candidates, running for office, signing petitions, participating in demonstrations, displaying yard signs or bumper stickers and the wearing of pins or shirts expressing political viewpoints.

Personal blogs

Keep in mind personal blogs, social media, videos, Podcasts and other online communications conducted on the Internet are not private. The ideas, stories, and photos you share can potentiality reflect on the LLN’s credibility. You will be held accountable for your actions by LLN as well as the general public. Please discuss any potentially troublesome posts or revelations in

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