The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y. (formerly Gannett Suburban Newspapers): Ethics code
Standards of Professional Conduct for news employees
To warrant the public's trust, a newspaper must be free of governmental control and official coercion, outside influence and conflicts of interest. The news must be presented accurately, fairly, impartially and completely.
A newspaper's most important asset is its integrity. Lose it, and the newspaper loses the very power that makes it a community force. Every full- and part-time newsroom professional has the responsibility to help ensure the newspaper's integrity.
Because a newspaper and its staff are subject to close public scrutiny, newsroom employees must avoid any situation that gives even the appearance of impropriety and partiality.
The following principles do not encompass every possibility. Nor can these guidelines be considered absolute. Situations differ. In this business, unique circumstances may require exceptions, which should always be discussed with and approved by your immediate editor and/or the editor. Ultimately, each individual's own judgment and integrity are the cornerstones of high ethical conduct.
However, one rule always applies: When in doubt, ask. "I didn't know it was wrong" at best implies insensitivity to ethical questions.
Employees who violate the principles outlined below may be subject to discipline; depending on severity, this can range from a reprimand to dismissal.
Free-lancing and other outside work
1. These newspapers, as your prime employer, have first call on your services. Before agreeing to do any outside work, whether related to journalism or not, you must consult your supervisor to ensure there is no conflict of interest, either journalistically or with regard to your availability or ability to perform work here. Outside employment of a continuing nature must be approved in advance by the editor.
2. Accepting money for work from an outside source disqualifies you from handling any stories, photos or illustrations involving that source, and it could affect employment.
3. You may not work for a competitor - a daily or weekly newspaper or magazine, radio station, television station or cable station within the circulation area. Free-lance writing for any New York City newspaper is strictly prohibited.. Paid tryouts for a competitor raise a number of possible conflicts and should be discussed in advance with the editor.
4. Subject to the approval of the editor, you may work as a stringer or free-lance correspondent for a newspaper, news service, magazine, radio or television station provided it is not in direct competition for news with Gannett Suburban Newspapers, and provided there are no adverse effects on your work here.
5. Work performed for Gannett Suburban Newspapers is the property of the newspapers and may not be sold to another publication without permission from the editor.
6. You may participate as an occasional panelist or commentator on a radio or television show, provided your position with our newspapers is stated on the program and a senior editor (department head or above) is notified in advance. You may not go further in voicing an opinion on the air than you would be permitted to do in print (e.g., an editorial writer or columnist may be quite opinionated, but a beat reporter may not be.)
7. You may not do media or public relations work, publicity writing, promotional photography, sports promotion, advertising or similar work.
8. You may not accept speaker fees or honoraria from organizations within our circulation area. You may not accept such payments from any special-interest group. Nominal honoraria from professional journalism organizations, such as the American Press Institute, pose no problem and are acceptable. Large payments of any kind from any group should be discussed in advance with the editor.
9. Free-lance writers and free-lance photographers are not bound by the same standards of outside work as employees. However, we encourage their understanding of our standards.
1. Because politics and government are staples of our news coverage, you may not hold office or work for a political party, candidate or government agency.
2. You may not affix bumper stickers and other political or special-interest labels to your personal vehicle or to newspaper property, nor wear political or special-interest buttons that may identify you with a cause.
3. You may not march in special-interest or political demonstrations; participate in rallies; speak out at public meetings; make monetary contributions to political candidates, PACs or special-interest groups; or engage in other activities in support of a cause or group that would raise questions about the newspaper's impartiality.
4. You are encouraged to vote in all general elections and free to enroll in a political party for purposes of voting in a primary. However, be aware that party affiliations are matters of public record and could be used to challenge your impartiality.
Volunteer and other activities
1. You are encouraged to be active in your community and in local charitable organizations to the extent that you can do so without participating in the news and compromising the newspaper.
2. The holding of office in groups that generate little news (e.g., an alumni chapter, tennis club, local church) is permissible so long as these activities do not conflict with your specific assignment. Writing or editing an internal newspaper for such a group poses no problem, but writing press releases or other communications aimed at the general public is not permitted.
3. You may not report or edit stories involving an organization in which you are a member. If an organization in which you play a leadership role is thrust into the news, you must step down.
4. You may not run for office or be involved in policy-making positions in major outside organizations that fall within the newspaper's normal range of coverage (e.g., local school boards, governmental bodies, local business or art groups, neighborhood action groups, etc.), or any organization that is likely to produce important news.
5. You may not seek or accept awards from controversial or special-interest groups. In many cases, these groups attempt to influence coverage through awards, and acceptance of such awards may lead the public to believe a news employee has been compromised or shares the group's agenda.
6. Awards from many charitable organizations reflect well on the newspaper, and acceptance is permitted. However, to avoid problems, consult the editor before accepting.
1. You may not write or photograph or make news judgments about a relative by blood or marriage or with whom you have a close personal relationship. In the event of a conflict or where one is likely, you must advise your editor of the relationship. Exceptions will be permitted; with a supervising editor's approval, in certain cases where no harm can be expected, such as writing a parent's obituary.
2. Employees must be careful of social friendships with news makers and other people identified with public issues. Friendships are an individual's personal business; they are the newspaper's business when they influence - or appear to influence - coverage and affect the newspaper's credibility.
3. Never offer advice on policy to a public official or anyone else you cover. It betrays partiality and, if accepted, puts you in a news-making role. Editorial writers and columnists, of course, are supposed to offer advice - but only in what they write, not in behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts.
1. A business relationship between a staff member and a news source is not permitted, without approval of the editor. Examples that would be conflicts of interest include helping a news source write a book or investing in a news maker's business enterprise.
2. Financial or business investments that might conflict with the newspaper's ability to report the news or with your ability to handle the news - or those that leave an impression of conflict - are prohibited.
3.If you are assigned to handle a story about a company in which you hold a sizable investment ($5,000 or more), you must disclose the investment to the editor.
4. News employees may not take advantage in their personal investing of unpublished information. Investment decisions based on unpublished news may be considered "insider trading" and are prohibited by the Securities and Exchange Commission's rules.
5. Business writers and editors have a special obligation to be sensitive to any investment or business practice that might compromise or appear to compromise their objectivity. They should familiarize themselves with the Society of American Business and Economic Writers' Code of Ethics, available from the editor, managing editors or business editor.
GIFTS AND FAVORS
1. News employees may not accept gratuities or gifts of value ($5 or more). These include, but are not limited to:
- Food and liquor.
- Free rooms.
- Travel (if it is worth covering, the newspaper will pay).
- Sample merchandise.
- Promotional merchandise at sporting and other events.
- Funds provided by racetracks or gambling establishments.
- Any other low- or no-pay arrangement.
2. Token gifts may be accepted if it would be awkward to send them back; e.g., a pencil, key chain, calendar, a single book or a similar item.
3. Other gifts should be returned to the donor with a polite note explaining that it is the newspaper's policy not to accept gifts. When that is impractical, a gift may be donated to a charity or non-profit institution, with the donor so advised. Most people who send such gifts do so innocently, and nothing we say to them should come across as self-righteous or critical.
4. It may be impractical to arrange to return or donate perishable gifts of little value, such as small bouquets or a box of candy. Consult with your editor about disposing of these in the newsroom or in some other way that does not compromise you as an individual.
5. You may take advantage of the same travel and other discounts available to the general public and to other businesses. Discounts specifically for the press are not permitted.
6. You may not accept a door prize or raffle at an event you are covering.
1. Free-admission to public events - i.e., sports, entertainment and other events for which the public pays admission - is prohibited for staff members who are not on assignment.
2. Working staff members at sporting events may use only press facilities. If a staff member uses a regular seat while attending an event for background, he/she should buy a ticket and submit an expense voucher.
3. Critics and reviewers on assignment may accept press passes and press tickets; special film screenings and theater previews for critics also are allowed, provided the event is private and no tickets are sold to the general public. These exceptions ensure that our reviewers and critics are not put in the position of paying for news and are not at a competitive disadvantage with other media.
4. Attending free promotional screenings or other events to which the press is invited wholesale is prohibited. If free passes or tickets are received and you are not specifically assigned to cover the event, return them with a polite note.
1. You may not accept free trips or reduced-rate travel or accommodations or meals if offered only to the press. Junkets of any sort are prohibited.
2. If news coverage is enhanced by accepting special travel arrangements, such as covering a sports team or political campaign, the newspaper will pay on a pro rata basis or at prevailing commercial rates
3. When free travel is the only means of transportation available to cover the news, such as during a natural disaster or emergency, staff members should have the advance approval of their supervising editor. If circumstances do not permit that, staffers must report the travel. as soon as possible thereafter.
4. Travel on most military airplanes is prohibited for safety and insurance reasons, unless an exception is approved by the president of the Gannett Newspaper Division.
1. You should not routinely accept free drinks or free meals from news figures or sources. Common sense should prevail. Occasional acceptance is a social courtesy, so long as you attempt to pick up the check and repay the courtesy on another occasion.
2. You should not attend press parties designed to curry favor. Attending parties, luncheons or dinners directly related to news events or those functions at which news leads might well surface is permitted.
3. The newspaper will pay actual per plate meal costs at political or partisan fund-raising affairs if news gathering requires dining with those attending.
1. We should pay for all products - books, records, tapes, food stuffs, cosmetics and such that we solicit as props or for review or testing.
2. It is permissible to borrow certain products for testing, review or as props, so long as they can be returned to the manufacturer or retailer in saleable condition.
3. Unsolicited products received for promotional purposes or review should be disposed of through these channels:
- Given to or sold for charity. (The newsroom conducts such sales periodically to benefit Lend-a-Hand.)
- Books may be sent to the News Library or a -news department for reference by the staff, or loaned to a specialty reporter or editor for background. These remain the property of the newspaper.
4. A reviewer may retain books or recordings actually reviewed, but may not sell them for personal gain.
5. Products purchased as props or for review or testing are the property of the newspaper.
Staff members may not sell such products.
VIOLATIONS OF THE LAW
1. News people operate in the public domain. Your conduct can influence public opinion and affect the credibility of the newspaper. Adherence to the law, both in the news-gathering process and in one's private life, is expected.
2. Minor domestic or traffic violations pose no embarrassment to the newspaper and no action by the company is required, so long as they do not interfere with your ability to do your job.
3. Intentional violation of the law to obtain news may be cause for dismissal.
4. In the case of an allegation of a serious crime on or off the job, a change in your assignment or a leave of absence may be necessary. Decisions affecting continued employment will be deferred pending legal disposition.
5. Normal policies on crime reporting - no more, no less - will be observed in publishing charges and court action involving employees of Gannett Suburban Newspapers.
1. News employees should recognize that even legal gambling under certain circumstances can effect the credibility of the newspaper. Therefore, staff members should not bet with news sources and should not bet on teams or any other activity they are covering.
2. Small office pools are permissible so long as no one makes a profit. Betting in which someone makes a profit is illegal.
Respect for the reader
1. News employees must be tactful and courteous in dealing with the public.
2. Telephones in the newsroom must be answered promptly and a message taken or a transfer made to a party who will help the caller.
3. Complaints and inquiries from readers must be treated swiftly and seriously. Editors should be notified of all complaints concerning the news sections; complaints about circulation, advertising, production or other areas of the newspaper should be directed to the appropriate vice president's office. Consult a supervising editor or the editor if you are unsure how to handle a complaint, or if it seems serious.
4. Every effort should be made to satisfy readers' complaints or otherwise assist !hem without unnecessarily sending them to others at the newspaper.
5. Arguing with or hanging up the telephone on a reader reflects poorly on you and the newspaper, and it usually backfires - the reader adds this to his or her list of complaints and calls the editor or publisher.
6. Errors will be corrected promptly and prominently. The newspaper's policy is to run all corrections on Page 2A as soon as possible. Exceptions may be made in specific cases to give greater - but never less - prominence.
7. Reporters and editors should never hide behind their privileges. They should be accessible to the public, available by phone or in person.
1. News stories must be fair, honest, accurate, unopinionated and complete. Intentionally distorting information or editorializing is a serious offense.
2. Do everything possible to get all sides of the story. There may be more than two sides to a story; be sensitive to differing opinions and try to reflect them all.
3. Allegations against an individual often require a response. If the person cannot be reached, say so - but only after a serious effort to get to the person has been made. Consider delaying publication, if possible, to reach the other side; if that is not possible, consider continuing to try to get to the person for an insert for later editions or for a follow-up story. If publication of a story has been delayed, additional efforts to get to persons unavailable at the time of writing should be considered.
4. Don't constantly dwell on the "bad" in a community or organization when there is also a "good" side to be told. Only finding fault is as bad as boosterism. Be aware of the trend of coverage and seek balance when appropriate.
5. Editors should be generous and prompt in providing space for rebuttal to a news story or editorial. Reporters should encourage news makers who are unhappy with a story about them to write a letter to the editor or to discuss it with an editor.
1. Lying, cheating, stealing or otherwise breaking the law to obtain news is strictly prohibited.
2. Rudeness toward news makers is unacceptable. It needlessly antagonizes people, leads them to believe the newspaper will not deal with them objectively, and gives them ammunition to discredit the newspaper's report. Be respectful toward them, even if they are not respectful toward you.
3. Reporters and editors should have a healthy skepticism of information from officials, but should not cross the line into cynicism. The skeptic asks questions; the cynic thinks he or she already knows the answers.
4. Public criticism of the people you cover damages the newspaper's and your credibility. Avoid excessive criticism or gossip even in social situations or in the newsroom; it can get back to the news maker and have the same effect as if you had said it publicly.
5. You should also avoid public criticism of the newspaper, newspaper personnel or the newspaper's editorial policies. It can damage our credibility and hamper our legitimate interests.
6. Members of the staff who deal with the public - those on assignment or who expect to be visited by the public in the office - should dress in appropriate business or field attire.
7. Staff members are expected to become knowledgeable about the communities, people and beats they cover, and to be open-minded about them. Reporters and editors who naively ask the most fundamental questions of officials and do not know major streets, schools and prominent people in our circulation area create an impression that we are a newspaper of novices with little interest in the communities we cover. Staff members who bad-mouth the institutions and communities we cover damage the newspaper's standing.
1. Posing as someone you are not is deceptive and is prohibited.
2. Going "undercover," so long as there is no active deception, must be approved in advance by the editor.
3. Those who are unaccustomed to dealing with the press deserve special consideration. You may need to tell them if they are being interviewed on the record, or when a conversation is being taped on the telephone.
4. A tape recorder has become a basic reporting tool and is used in the interest of accuracy. In a face-to-face interview, you need not announce it, but avoid concealing it.
1. Statements that are not self-evident and could be disputed must be attributed. Attribution is not necessary when the reporter is an eyewitness, but this should be indicated in the story to avoid questions.
2. Certain statements in a story are proved by the story itself Generally, there is no need for further attribution, except to make sure the story is written in such a way that it is clear the evidence will be detailed further down.
3. Do not obscure the true source of a statement with such phantom constructions as:
- It is expected that ... expected by whom?
- It appears to be ... appears to whom?
- It is believed to be ... believed by whom?
- It is known that... known by whom?
- Who is said to be... said by whom?
4. If there are conditions on attribution, or any possibility of misunderstanding about what will or will not be used for publication, be sure the source understands them. These are the generally accepted definitions of the conditions of attribution:
- On the record: All statements and opinions can be quoted and paraphrased at will, and are attributed directly to the source. This is the preferred manner.
- For background: All statements and opinions can be quoted and paraphrased at will, without direct attribution to the source. However, the newspaper has strict guidelines on the use of unnamed sources (see the following section), so this may be of little actual value.
- Off the record: Anything said off the record cannot be quoted or paraphrased at all. The reporter should make it clear to the source that he or she will attempt to learn the information from other sources without implicating the original source.
5. Be wary of going "off the record." News makers who go "off the record" can maneuver you into the position of not being able to report or pursue what they have told you. What good is information if we cannot publish it? In the vast majority of cases, a hard-nosed attitude against going off the record prods the news maker to go ahead and say what he wanted to say anyway, or it at least leaves you free to seek the information without restriction elsewhere.
6. Information should be attributed to the best possible source. Just because someone tells you something doesn't mean they know or that you should use it. The source should be an appropriate one to provide the information sought and should be in a position to know. For example, a cop directing traffic at a crime scene is not necessarily the best possible source for information about the crime (though he may help steer you to information).
7. Avoid blanket attribution such as "experts" or "observers," unless they are clearly named later in the story. If they are not named, they constitute anonymous sources and must meet the tests outlined below.
8. Using someone else's wording, quotes or illustrations as your own is plagiarism, and it is prohibited.
9. Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, do not quote or otherwise write about employees of Gannett Suburban Newspapers. It looks parochial and self-serving, and it weakens the story. Work harder to find outside sources of information.
1. The use of anonymous sources is discouraged and should be avoided except as a last resort. Legitimate efforts must be made to get sources on the record. Only when those efforts have been exhausted will the use of anonymous sources be permitted.
2. The identities of all sources must be verified and disclosed to the editor or managing editor and, if requested, to the newspaper's attorney.
3. Needless to say, the identities of anonymous sources should never be disclosed to others, and certainly not in casual newsroom conversations. Editors who are informed of sources' identities are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as are reporters.
4. Misleading information about the true identity of a source may not be used in a story, even to "throw off' suspicion. This violates the newspaper's compact with readers, that we will always tell them the truth. Examples that are prohibited include:
- Pluralizing the source as "sources" when there is really only one.
- Reporting that an individual had no comment when in fact he or she was the unnamed source of the information.
- Allowing an individual to lie on the record while giving you contrary information for anonymous attribution.
5. Information supplied by an anonymous source should be verified independently or confirmed by at least one other source. An exception may be made (albeit with risk) for individuals who are the sole possessors of the information or whose integrity is unassailable.
6. The motive of the anonymous source should be fully examined to prevent our being used unwittingly to grind someone's ax.
7. We should avoid using anonymous sources on information that calls someone's judgment into question or on statements that are a matter of opinion. For example, it would be wrong to quote an anonymous source saying someone is "dumb" -- how could a reader evaluate such a comment without knowing who said it? There maybe exceptions, such as in cases where a subordinate who criticizes his boss fears losing his job. But even such exceptions require that the comment be backed up with evidence or examples. But ordinarily, someone who wants to take a jab at someone else should be compelled to put his or her name behind it.
8. Information attributed to an anonymous source must be factual and important to the story. Peripheral information or "just a good quote" aren't good enough reasons for anonymity.
9. As with on-the-record sources, the Rule of the Best Source should prevail. Reporters and editors should satisfy themselves that the source is appropriate to provide the information sought and that he or she is in a position to know.
10. When an unnamed source must be used, the story should explain why his or her identity is being withheld, and enough information should be given about the source to establish his or her authority to speak on the subject.
11. Unless logistics make it impractical, reporters may not promise anonymity without first consulting with their editors.
12. Stories containing unnamed sources may not be published without the approval of the editor or a managing editor.
13. Whenever possible, spokespeople for organizations should be identified by name and position. At many places, however, such spokesmen are required to keep their names out of the story, and a request to do so may be honored if there will be no problems in going back to them later should there be questions. And in certain situations, the spokesman is doing nothing more than reading an official company announcement that can be described as such. Be aware that information from a spokesman usually is second hand and is never better than getting first hand information from the person closest to it.
14. The Associated Press' policy on unnamed sources is similar to the above. Other wire services' policies are far more lenient. Whether to use such stories from wire services is a judgment call. Apply the tests above and consult a senior editor.
1. At public meetings, everything said is on the record by law unless the governmental or quasi-governmental body votes to go into closed executive session. Reporters should never permit an individual to declare a statement off the record and should so advise the person at the time or as soon as possible afterward. Reporters may not be singled out for exclusion from public meetings if other members of the public are allowed in.
2. Our policy is to aggressively protect the public's access to governmental business under the state's Open Meetings and Freedom of Information laws. Reporters and editors are expected to be familiar with both laws and to know what to do if information is denied or a meeting is closed in violation of the law.
3. In general, this is what to do if a public meeting is closed in violation of the law:
- Stand up and object that you believe the meeting is being closed in violation of the state Open Meetings Law.
- Insist that the legally required vote be taken, so those in favor of the closed meeting are on record.
- Consult with your editor. A story about the closure itself may be newsworthy, or the editor may have some ideas or counsel to offer.
- Try to find out what happened at the closed meeting. A good place to start is by questioning members of the board; those who opposed the closed meeting may prove to be most helpful.
- Examine the record afterwards. The law requires that minutes of closed meetings must be taken and, in most cases, are open to public inspection.
4. If a judge orders a courtroom closed and the press evicted, you should stand up and identify yourself as a reporter. Ask for a recess or adjournment so you can obtain counsel to argue against the closure, as provided for under rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. Then, call your editor as quickly as possible so a lawyer can be contacted.
Disclosing unpublished information
1. Unpublished information obtained as part of the news-gathering process - stories, photographs, notes, etc. - is strictly confidential. In most cases its confidentiality is protected by law.
2. Release of such information to private investigators, lawyers, governmental officials, law enforcement agencies, competitors or any other individual is not permitted.
3. Do not disclose information about stories in progress, except what is necessary to gather it.
4. For the sake of accuracy, there is nothing wrong with reading back a quote to the individual who said it to make sure you have it straight.
5. Reading back an entire story or the gist of it to a source or an authority is perilous and ordinarily should be avoided. Any exceptions should be discussed in advance with a supervising editor and should be done only to ensure accuracy. In such cases, reporters should make clear to the source in advance that, whatever the objections, the newspaper will have ultimate control over the final wording and publication.
6. Sharing information with other reporters or media is discouraged, unless there is a clear mutual benefit and no competitive disadvantage.
7. Trading information with law enforcement or regulatory officials is prohibited. Reporters should not become an arm of the law.
8. Pooling of information or quotes with other reporters should be approved in advance by a supervising editor, and in most cases should be disclosed in the story.
9. Outside of a news-gathering context, news staff members have the same responsibilities as any private citizen if they witness a crime. However, information gathered in the course of reporting the event is protected under the Shield law and should not be disclosed voluntarily.
Use of quotes
1. Quotation marks are understood to mean that everything enclosed within them is what the person said. Anything else should be paraphrased.
2. People sometimes have different recollections of what was said. Be faithful to your own ear, but use a direct quotation only if you are confident that it was what the person said.
3. Do not "clean up" quotations to make them grammatical. (Don't make the person look stupid, either. Paraphrase, or substitute words in parentheses.)
4. Do not attempt to capture dialect or mangled pronunciations unless it is an essential part of the story. If someone pronounces them as dem, it's OK to write them, because that is the actual word.
5. Ellipses should be used to indicate missing words or phrases (three periods) or missing sentences (four periods). Ellipses can be distracting and awkward, and should be used sparingly.
6. Avoid fragmentary quotes -- one or a few words enclosed in quotation marks, "like so" - except when it is important that the reader know the actual word or phrase used.
Ethnic, racial and religious references
1. Do not describe a person by race, religion or ethnic background unless it is pertinent to the story. Do not quote racial, ethnic or religious jokes or slurs unless essential to the story (they rarely will be).
2. In descriptions of crime suspects, do not use racial or ethnic characterizations unless they are part of a fairly complete description of a fugitive suspect that could reasonably assist the public in helping the police.
3. Be especially sensitive to the nuances of using any references that may be offensive to a minority group. If there are inoffensive alternatives, use them.
4. Stories, illustrations and photographs should be mainstreamed; that is, an effort should be made to include minority representation in routine ways so that our news coverage more accurately reflects the makeup of the communities we cover.
5. Be wary of racial stereotyping in photographs.
1. The newspaper's goal is to write in conversational English, but not in vulgar street talk.
2. Obscenities, profanities and other coarse language may be printed only in extraordinary circumstances when the expression is vital to the story. The editor or a managing editor must approve such use.
3. There is never cause or justification for such language to be used in a writer's own words (i.e., outside quoted discourse).
4. In most cases, the same information can be conveyed by paraphrasing the vulgarity or by the use of ellipses.
5. Ellipses in which some letters are used (such as f..k) may have similar impact as the word itself and should also be avoided unless approved by the editor or a managing editor.
6. Some minor vulgarities (such as it sucks) are harmless but debase the tone of the newspaper and usually should be avoided.
Altering or faking photos
1. The content of a photograph may never be changed or manipulated in any way.
2. Only the established norms of standard photo printing methods, such as burning, dodging, black-and-white toning and cropping, are acceptable. Retouching is limited to removal of normal scratches and dust spots.
3. Color may be corrected only to ensure honest reproduction of the original. Cases of abnormal color tonality will be clearly stated in the caption. Color adjustments always should be minimal.
4. Any deceptive presentation of information in a news photograph (e.g., arranging debris at an accident scene) is prohibited.
5. Posed situations or the use of models for illustrative purposes should be specifically identified to the reader when there is the possibility that someone will believe the picture portrays a spontaneous event.
1. You have an obligation to report any breaking news you observe on or off the job, within or beyond your assigned areas of responsibility. This obligation may require nothing more than telling an editor about something you saw in your neighborhood or on your way to work. Within reason, if you are at the scene of a breaking news story, you should phone the newspaper to make sure the editors know about it, and you should be prepared to gather information if necessary.
2. Newspapers exist to publish news. Reporters and editors should be the last people to withhold news. Nevertheless, for reasons of compassion or dire consequences, it may be necessary to withhold some information. In the case of breaking news for which there are no specific guidelines, such decisions may be made only by the highest ranking editors available.
3. For reasons of compassion or safety, we may withhold information in these situations: - Witnesses to crimes should not be identified in full, and in certain cases not by name or address.
- Victims of physical crimes when the assailant is still at large should not be identified by address.
- Victims of rapes and other sexual crimes, regardless of sex, should not be identified by name or address.
- Children 12 years of age or younger who are arrested should not be identified by name or address.
- Youths 18 years of age or younger who are adjudicated as juvenile offenders should not be identified by name or address. However, this designation is made by a judge at a hearing, not by the police.
- Do not identify parties in Family Courts without the judge's permission (it is a condition of our admittance).
- Except for newsworthy public figures, do not identify suicide victims by name or address when the suicide would not otherwise gain public notice. Attempted suicides should be handled similarly.
- Do not report bomb threats unless a building is evacuated or some other visible public event takes place.
- Under certain circumstances, news may be withheld when the editor or a managing editor concludes that publication clearly threatens physical or extreme psychological harm to an individual or when it can be demonstrated convincingly that publication would have some other calamitous public effect.
4. There may be exceptions to the above, which must be approved by the editor or a managing editor:
- Newsworthy public officials.
- Notorious crimes involving youths.
- Victims of sexual crimes or suicide attempts who agree to be identified for purposes of a larger story.
5. We do not suppress reports of arrests or other unfavorable news about individuals simply because of their connections or appeals to the newspaper.
6. Many news judgments offer troubling choices. You should always consider the consequences of your decisions and leave room for compassion in unusual circumstances. Bear in mind that a free flow of information in an open society is an important value, but it is not the only value. The editor and managing editor always should be consulted about difficult judgments that may require an exception to customary procedures.
1. An embargo means we have agreed to hold certain information for release at a predetermined time and date. Embargoes are a fact of life. We respect customary embargoes and those to which we or one of our wire services is a party.
2. We consider an embargo lifted at any point the news becomes public, whether by other announcement or by another news organization breaking the embargo.
3. We reserve the right to make our own decision about respecting an embargo that is unilaterally handed to us. Those that have been traditionally honored (such as release dates on press releases from public agencies with which we routinely do business) should be honored, unless we give advance notice to the contrary.
4. Only senior editors (department heads or above), or their designees, may negotiate or agree to embargoes. Our posture should be to avoid embargoes when possible.
1. Stories, illustrations, comic strips or photographs that are in questionable taste should be shown to the editor or a managing editor, who will decide if they should be published.
2. Photographs showing dead bodies, other gruesome subjects or highly emotional content should be shown to the editor or managing editor, who will decide if they should be published. Ordinarily, we do not publish such photographs unless geographical distance, camera angle or extraordinary news circumstances reduce the risk of offending readers.
3. We do not publish photographs that hold people up to ridicule.
Writing about the company
1. Any story involving the Gannett Co. Inc. Or these newspapers should be shown in advance to the editor or a managing editor.
Private use of newspaper property
1. Unauthorized use of newspaper property for private use or gain is theft. It is prohibited.
2. Staff members may not use the newsroom front-end system or other electronic equipment for jokes or other messages which, if published, could embarrass the newspaper.
3. "Going away" pages and other parodies to be set in type but not intended for publication must be approved in advance by a senior editor (department head or above).
4. The personal messaging function of the SII system is restricted to newspaper business.
5. Unauthorized tampering with stories, files, queues or other information stored electronically is prohibited.
6. Overriding or bypassing assigned SII access levels without permission is prohibited.
1. The editor, or in Rockland the managing editor of the Journal-News, must approve all requests to reprint stories, photographs, or illustrations.
2. A fee may be charged to provide copies of photographs and illustrations. A fee may also be charged for any content reprinted by a commercial publication.
3. Generally, permission to reprinted will be granted under the following conditions:
- Republication will not damage the newspaper or its credibility, a decision to be made
by the editor or the managing editor of the Journal-News.
- The newspaper and writer are properly credited.
- The date of the original publication is noted.
- Nothing is edited, reduced or changed in any way.
4. There is no requirement for permission to quote relatively short excerpts from the newspaper, so long as the quotation is in context and properly attributed.