Ethics Guidelines

Coastside News Group Editorial Ethics Guidelines

The purpose of this document is to outline ethical behavior that should guide any journalist. It relies heavily on policies adopted by some of the finest news organizations in the United States. It does not conceive of every possible ethical consideration, but rather should be viewed as an outline. For specific questions, please consult with the editorial director before making any decisions that may give you pause.

Standards of Behavior

Coastside News Group journalists shall maintain the highest standards of comportment and remain as objective as possible while on the job or representing the news organization. They are not to cheer at sporting events they cover, nor to support for any particular local political candidate. They should never engage in loud argument or physical altercation with anyone in the community. They will dress appropriately while at work and treat everyone they encounter in their work with the utmost respect and courtesy. They will always identify themselves as journalists while in the course of their duties. Coastside News Group journalists may not use their status in the community for any purpose other than their journalistic pursuit. They may not solicit for charity by using their Coastside News Group credentials nor seek any advantage for themselves, family or friends. Staff members must take great care to avoid any appearance of partiality due to personal relationships with sources. Professional detachment is important. Coastside News Group journalists will obey the law while in pursuit of the news.

Standards of coverage

Coastside News Group journalists strive to be fair and accurate. They will check facts to the best of their ability, take special care with direct quotes and we will correct any substantive published mistakes. Plagiarism is grounds for termination, as is publishing something known to be false. Any promise of anonymity for sources first must be cleared by the editorial director. Photographs will not be manipulated in any way that alters reality. They may be retouched in accordance with professional journalistic standards, but not changed in substantive ways.

Standards for accepting gifts

Coastside News Group journalists will not accept any gift that is clearly worth more than $20. Whenever possible, it is best to decline gifts of food, lodging or any other goods or services. However, a cup of coffee or other trinket of minimal value is harmless. Sometimes, accepting a small gift is preferable to offending a source. When in doubt, consult the editorial director. Coastside News Group journalists may never receive anything of value as a quid pro quo for coverage.

Standards for freelancing

In general, freelance writing, photography and editing improves skills that transfer to work for the Coastside News Group. When appropriate, Coastside News Group journalists are welcome to work on side projects for remuneration. However, staffers should ask the editorial director before accepting outside journalistic work. Coastside News Group journalists may not accept freelance work that brings disrepute on the Coastside News Group, nor may they sell their Coastside News Group work product to secondary outlets.

Standards for public participation

Coastside News Group journalists are encouraged to vote and to take part in the public process. However, they are discouraged from participating in rallies or protests that might call into question their impartiality in local affairs. They may hold positions on community organizations and advisory boards that do not overlap with their coverage areas, but they should seek guidance from the editorial director before accepting a position that might be construed as a conflict. Coastside News Group journalists should not participate in public forums dealing with matters they might cover. Should they choose to participate in online comments over local affairs, they should always identify themselves by name and as a member of the Coastside News Group staff. They should refrain from profanity in these forums and from any speech that brings disrepute to the Coastside News Group.

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