The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind.: Gazette Ethics Policy
These guidelines have been developed to meet the dual responsibility journalists have to themselves and to the public they serve.
They are intended as standards that staff members can use when they face decisions or situations that affect their professional integrity and the integrity of The Journal Gazette.
They apply to everyone in reporting, editing, graphic and administrative positions.
The guidelines also are intended to inform the public of the standards by which The Journal Gazette gathers and publishes information. Under this principle, the public has a right to expect a newspaper to remain free from influences, and the appearance of influences, that might affect what is reported. The guidelines represent a pledge by The Journal Gazette and its staff to maintain and cultivate public confidence.
NEWS CONTENT: Good faith with the reader is the foundation of good journalism. Every effort must be made to assure that the news content is accurate, free from bias and in context, and that all sides are presented fairly. Editorials, analytical articles and commentary should be held to the same standards of accuracy with respect to facts as news reports. Errors of fact, as well as errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and prominently.
PHOTOGRAPHS: It has always been the policy of The Journal Gazette that content alteration of photographs is unacceptable using past or present technology. If significant reason exists to change this policy it will be addressed in the following manner:
NO DISCUSSION NEEDED:
(1) Minor dodging or burning or color correction of areas in the photograph that do not change the content; for instance, lightening or darkening areas to make them reproducible. Adding or removing elements that do not realistically represent what the camera captured is forbidden.
(2) Correction or removing of dirt or dust spots, or of technical defects in the photograph.
(1) Photographs with the potential to breach community standards; for example, inclusion of genitals, obscene gestures, offensive cultural elements.
(2) Photographs that may offend community standards, including gruesome or emotionally distressing photographs.
(3) Discussion with graphics editor or chief photographer is required to manipulate photographs in the darkroom or electronically. If a photo is manipulated in any way it must be labeled as a photo illustration (meaning the photo was set up) or as an electronically manipulated photo (example: removing or creating elements in the illustration). Manipulated photos must be approved by the editor or managing editor. Extent of the alteration and/or the technique should be clearly explained to readers.
TRUTHFULNESS: All photographs used in The Journal Gazette should accurately represent the situations they portray. Photographers should never use "set-up" photographs or ask someone to reconstruct scenes. This does not apply to environmental portraits and illustrations.
PHOTO IN ADVERTISEMENTS: Photographs shall not be used in advertisements unless approved by the editor or managing editor.
FREE-LANCE: Staffers should clear all free-lance projects with their supervisors and either the editor or managing editor. Such assignments are to be done on the staffer's own time and without use of Journal Gazette resources. Generally, The Journal Gazette will allow staffers to do work for publications that don't attract local advertisers and don't aim specifically at our circulation area.
The Journal Gazette library may be used to research free-lance assignments only with permission of the head librarian and editor or managing editor.
If free-lance work benefits from travel or other special expenses which The Journal Gazette paid for in connection with Journal Gazette work, the newspaper may be entitled to part of the free-lance fee. These matters should be approved by the staffer's supervisor and the editor or managing editor.
MEDIA AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS: Staffers who are invited to participate in TV or radio shows, to join panel discussions or to give speeches in connection with their professional work must check the proposal, including any honorarium and/or expenses, with their department editor before accepting.
WORK PRODUCED ON COMPANY TIME: Information and photographs produced on company time are considered property of the company. Sale of such material is permitted only with permission by the editor or managing editor.
PERSONAL BUSINESS ACTIVITIES: Employees should not use their positions on the newspaper to their advantage in commercial transactions or for other personal gain. This specifically prohibits such practices as the use of The Journal Gazette stationery for private business matters, personal letters of protest or similar dealings. Staff members may take outside jobs provided that such jobs do not interfere with regular work duties and there is no conflict of interest. Staff members may not exploit their titles or employment at The Journal Gazette during outside employment.
POLITICAL OR SPECIAL INTEREST ACTIVITIES: Staff members may hold no paid political position or appointed public office. Staff members also should not contribute to or hold office in political or special interest organizations. Active participation in any such organization is discouraged because of the possible interpretation that The Journal Gazette or all staff members endorse the organization. Any affiliation relating to a story a staff member is covering or editing must be disclosed to the staff member's editor.
ENTERTAINMENT: The Journal Gazette will pay for meals when a staff member is on company business. Dinner or cocktail parties are allowed if the event relates to news coverage or if it is critical for background or sourcing. Free entertainment events that have little or nothing to do with news coverage should be avoided.
FREE TICKETS AND PASSES: Free tickets and passes to entertainment and sports events may neither be accepted nor solicited by staff members. If assigned to cover or review an event or program, staff members will purchase their own tickets for the event and will be reimbursed by the company. Exceptions would be sportswriters covering games. Reporters on assignments may accept passes to events where there are special facilities - such as press boxes, press tables or photo areas - for which tickets are not sold. A staff member who needs to attend an event for background purposes, and for which there are no special facilities, will be reimbursed by The Journal Gazette. In other cases, all tickets sent by mail or given to the newsroom will be returned or destroyed.
TRAVEL: In very rare cases, free trips or those at a reduced rate taken as a part of an assignment may be accepted if they are cleared through an editor. Articles resulting from such trips will include an editor's note that the trip was sponsored by an organization. Otherwise, The Journal Gazette will pay all costs involved in travel for news coverage or background information for staff members. This includes transportation, meals and hotels while on assignment. Staff members may travel on chartered planes (with a sports team or political candidate, for example) and take advantage of hotel booking or other services offered by a news source provided that the team or organization bills The Journal Gazette for the full cost involved. The Journal Gazette will estimate the cost if no figures are provided.
USE OF MERCHANDISE OR PRODUCTS: Staff members should not accept the free use of, or a reduced rate for, merchandise or products for personal pleasure when such an offer involves the staffer's newspaper position. This includes the donation, loan or cut-rate purchase of clothing, or sporting goods, books, CDs or videos, for example. A staff member may use a product for a short time to test or evaluate it for news or feature articles or photographic purposes. Products not immediately returned become part of the newsroom charity.
OTHER GIFTS AND GRATUITIES: Journal Gazette staffers should never profit in any way beyond salaries from what is published in our newspaper. Gifts worth more than $5 should be returned immediately with a courteous explanation of our ethics policy or donated in the giver's name to a local charity. Gifts of insignificant value, such as pencils and key chains, should be donated to The Journal Gazette book sale for charity. Staff members should consult an editor if special situations arise.