Ethics and Quality

The Basics of Good Reporting

All citizen reporters for Newswire21 are required to follow the best practices of professional journalists as described below. Contributors who intentionally violate any policy may be suspended. If you have any question, please discuss it with your editor until the policy is clear.

1. Accuracy. An inaccurate story is worse than no story at all. Good journalism depends on facts – not opinion or speculation. Nouns and numbers are more precise than adjectives and adverbs. All direct quotes must reflect what was said word-for-word. Double-check facts before filing a story. Errors must be corrected.

2. Objectivity. Everyone has opinions, but good reporters set aside their own views, especially when reporting on controversial issues. The public is best served when different points of view are provided in a story.

3. Impartiality. Reporters cannot report fairly when they have a conflict of interest, such as a grudge against a source or the potential for personal gain. Reporters must disclose any possible conflict to their editor before writing a story.

4. Quality. Reporters consistently strive to write well and provide context to the news. Avoid clichés, vulgar language, insults, slang or other terms that may reflect poorly on you, your community or Newswire21.

5. Credibility. Stories should be based on reliable sources who are identified by their names and titles unless that puts them in danger. In such cases, identities may be withheld from publication with approval of a senior editor.

6. Honesty. Reporters should tell their sources beforehand that they are gathering information for a story. They should not record conversations unless all parties know a recorder is being used.

7. Diversity. Reporters must show respect and compassion in their writing and behavior for their sources, subjects, editors and the diversity of the community.

8. Originality. Plagiarism, copyright violations and other violations of broadly accepted intellectual property standards will not be tolerated. All work must be based on original reporting and will become copyright material of Newswire21.

9. Quickness. News is called “news” because it is based on new information. It is important to report news quickly while it can make a difference to readers.

10. Service. Good reporters serve the public’s right to know under the Constitutional guarantees of free speech and a free press. They advocate open meetings and access to public records. They give voice to the voiceless, and shine a light on unethical conduct by public officials.