The News-Times, Danbury, Conn.: Ethics Code
These standards of professional conduct were written by reporters, photographers and editors. Members of The News-Times staff are professionals and our standards spring from that premise.
This code is intended to be a guide to the norms of professional conduct. Not every ethical situation is covered here; it would be impractical to do so. Individual situations should be handled on an individual basis, between a staff member and his or her supervisor.
- We strive for and record the truth. We correct errors promptly.
- We do not use our position as levers for personal gain.
- Gifts of more than nominal value may not be accepted. When practical, gifts of more than nominal value shall be returned to the sender with our thanks and an explanation of our standards. When this is not practical, such gifts shall be donated to a suitable charity.
- Passes and free or discount tickets may be accepted only for the purpose of news coverage.
- We use press cards only to identify ourselves as journalists. They may not be used for personal gain.
- Contributions to political campaigns are prohibited. We may not hold or run for public office, paid or volunteer. We may not serve in any governmental or political organization, nor may we work in a political campaign. Because the news profession demands fairness, staff members should take great care in displaying their political belief. Innocent actions such as wearing a political button or displaying a bumper sticker are not appropriate.
- We should remember that if we participate in community organizations, we should avoid circumstances in which our activities create a perceived conflict of interest. While rank-and-file membership in major community groups is acceptable, we should not assume positions in which we set policy or speak for the organization. We may hold leadership positions in groups that have a limited public impact and do not fall within our normal range of coverage. We have an obligation to discuss a potential conflict with our supervisor.
- We may not do public relations work for organizations within our normal range of coverage.
- Reporters, editors and photographers may freelance for publications that are not in competition with The News-Times. Stories or photos that have particular relevance to our readers shall be offered to The News-Times first.
- We should identify ourselves as news people. Exceptions may occur, but they ought to be discussed with the appropriate editor in advance whenever possible.
- We do not let subjects of stories or photographs read or look at our work before publication. We may read back to them, in the interests of accuracy, technical portions of a story.
- We do not argue or correct at a public meeting except to challenge a public body's apparent violation of the Freedom of Information law or an attempt to close a courtroom to the public.
- We follow the Dow Jones guidelines for investments and business relationships.
- Photographers will not manipulate a scene to change its meaning. We will be careful about using photos in any other form than their original. On occasions when a manipulated photo may be acceptable (as an illustration, for instance) , the photo shall be identified as such. The same requirements of care apply to the use of a photo as to the written word.