EastIdahoNews.com Code of Ethics

  • Telling the Truth
  • Nature of Our Journalism
  • Confidential Sources
  • Interviewing
  • Balance & Fairness
  • Withholding Names
  • Gifts, Free Travel and Other Perks
  • Political Activities by Staff
  • Censorship
  • Handling and Protection of Freelancers and “Fixers”
  • Diversity
  • Naming Suspects
  • Data Journalism
  • Accepting Money
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Bombs and Other Threats
  • Children: Coverage, Images, and Interviews
  • Sources: Reliability and Attribution
  • Online Commenting
  • Financial Interests
  • Personal Ethics Statements by Staff
  • Social Networks
  • Corrections
  • Removing Archived Work
  • Hate Speech
  • Obscenities
  • Sensational Material
  • Photo and Video
  • Clickbait and Metrics
  • Professional Conduct
  • Concealing Identity
  • Hostage Situations
  • Accuracy
  • Quotations
  • Community Activities
  • Plagarism and Attribution
  • Awards and Contests
  • Freelance Work by Employees
  • Reporting On Your Organization
  • Mental Health and Suicide
  • Privacy
  • Audio
  • User-Generated Content
  • News and Advertising
    • TELLING THE TRUTH

    • We are honest, accurate, truthful and fair. We do not distort or fabricate facts, imagery, sound or data.
    • We provide accurate context for all reporting.
    • We ensure that sources are reliable.
    • We correct errors quickly, completely and visibly. We make it easy for you to bring errors to your attention.
    • If a report includes criticism of people or organizations, we give them the opportunity to respond.
    • We clearly distinguish fact from opinion in all content.
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      NATURE OF OUR JOURNALISM

    • Our journalists should not express opinions about topics they might be likely to cover, but are free to express opinions on other matters. For instance, a political writer should not express opinions about politics, but is free to express opinions on sports or entertainment.
    • Our reporters may not write opinion pieces or post on social media about the subjects they cover. We encourage our journalists to express opinions about journalism matters, advocating for freedom of information and joining the conversation within the profession about important issues.
    • Our journalists, salespeople and executives work to ensure that advertisers, sponsors and contributors have no influence over editorial content.
    • Our journalists should avoid political involvement such as running for or holding office, joining political parties, volunteering in campaigns, serving on community boards, donating to campaigns or displaying campaign materials on their property or persons.
    • If a family member’s political involvement would call into question the integrity of a journalist’s coverage, the journalist should avoid coverage of that issue or campaign. If avoiding such a family conflict is impossible, the family member’s involvement should be disclosed in related coverage.
    • Our journalists should disclose community and political involvements, particularly those involving topics they might cover, both in general statements we will publish on our website and in stories relating to their involvements.
    • Despite our organization’s involvement in the issues we cover, we should provide factual coverage in a neutral voice. We should disclose our affiliation for transparency reasons, but the affiliation should not be evident from a promotional voice or content.
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      CONFIDENTIAL RESOURCES

    • We use confidential sources sparingly to provide important information that cannot be obtained through on-the-record sources. Reporters should disclose the identity of unnamed sources to at least one editor.
    • We will disclose to readers or viewers the reasons for granting confidentiality, such as fear for the source’s safety or job, when we use unnamed sources.
    • We publish information from confidential sources that we consider reliable, but do not publish the opinions of unnamed sources.
    • We are more open to granting confidentiality to sources we approach for interviews than to sources approaching us with tips or with dirt about political opponents or business rivals.
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      INTERVIEWING

    • Our organization never pays for interviews.
    • Our organization permits interviewees with transcripts to revise their comments to clarify complicated or technical matters.
    • Our organization will provide interview subjects with a general idea of our questions in advance.
    • When reporting on an interview, we do not require our staff to state the type of interview (i.e., whether it was in person, by telephone, video, Skype or email.)
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      BALANCE AND FAIRNESS

    • To ensure fairness, we believe in covering not only the most powerful voices on an issue, but also those who are not normally heard (e.g. in election coverage, mainstream and non-mainstream candidates).
    • If an issue generates debate — even if one perspective on the issue has been credibly established as fact — we will seek out and report dissenting views in a proportionate way.
    • In breaking news situations, we will attempt to gather comments from key sides of an issue; if comments are not immediately available, we will publish or air the story without them, make clear that we were unable to get some comment and update our story as needed.
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      WITH HOLDING NAMES

    • Unless we have a compelling reason to withhold a name, we always publish named of people involved in the stories we cover.
    • In rare cases, such as when a sexual assault allegation has been proven to be false and malicious, we will identify a sexual assault accuser.
    • In breaking news stories, we do not publish the names of dead people until authorities have notified their families and released the names, unless compelling circumstances justify publication as soon as we have verified the names.
    • We do not withhold essential details, such as names, from our coverage of mass murders.
    • In covering active police or military operations, we will withhold such details as location or tactics planned, until after the operation, to avoid endangering police, troops or civilians who could be affected.
    • We will consider potential harm to sources facing intolerance in their societies before naming them in stories.
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      GIFTS, FREE TRAVEL AND OTHER PERKS

    • Our journalists should not accept gifts with a value greater than $50.
    • Our journalists may accept tickets or press passes to events we are covering or reviewing.
    • Our journalists should disclose any gifts they receive to their supervisors and discuss whether something needs to be returned, disclosed, paid for, donated to charity or handled in some other way that protects our integrity.
    • Our journalists may accept a small gift in cases where people are being kind and clearly not trying to influence us. Our gift policy does not require us to be rude; sometimes there’s a common-sense need to accept a small gift.
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      POLITICAL ACTIVITIES BY STAFF

    • Our journalists should avoid political involvement such as running for or holding office, joining political parties, volunteering in campaigns, serving on community boards, donating to campaigns or displaying campaign materials on their property or persons.
    • Our journalists should be aware of personal biases that can skew their reporting, even if journalists conduct no public activity indicating a political bias. They will consider publishing personal ethics statements, or making colleagues aware of their beliefs to help backstop the objectivity of their work.
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      CENSORSHIP

    • We will refuse any attempt to censor our material, accepting delay as the price for putting out exactly what we want.
    • In military situations, we will agree to censorship and other restrictions that are reasonable for reasons of security and respect for troops.
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      CORRECTIONS

    • If a mistake is made in a social media post, we will correct the original post.
    • We will show all changes that have been made to online stories if they involve corrections or rephrasing to fix unclear material.
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      HANDLING AND PROTECTION OF FREELANCERS AND “FIXERS”

    • If a mistake is made in a social media post, we will correct the original post.
    • We will show all changes that have been made to online stories if they involve corrections or rephrasing to fix unclear material.
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      DIVERSITY

    • We will seek diverse pools of candidates for all jobs, but will always seek to hire the most qualified candidate.
    • We encourage staffers to seek diverse sources, both in specific stories and in routine beat coverage.
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      NAMING SUSPECTS

    • We will name criminal suspects if they are arrested.
    • We will name criminal suspects if we have their identifications confirmed by sources we trust.
    • We will not name juvenile suspects in criminal cases unless extraordinary circumstances justify use of the names.
    • If a criminal suspect is at large and believed to be dangerous, we will identify the suspect, including a photo or sketch.
    • If we publish a the name of a person arrested or charged with a crime, we will publish a story about the resolution of the case and update the original story and headline, if they are still online, with a link to the new story.
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      RACE AND GENDER

    • We will seek out people in the groups we cover to gain perspective on our coverage and terminology.
    • We will use racial, ethnic, gender and sexuality identifiers when specifically germane to a story but not otherwise.
    • We will Identify transgender people by the gender they express publicly.
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      DATA JOURNALISM

    • We believe that data is like raw footage and may be purchased if it cannot be obtained through other means.
    • We will put all data in relevant context.
    • We will not use personally identifiable data without specific and valid news value to support disclosure.
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      ACCEPTING MONEY

    • Our funder(s) may see our stories before publication, and their comments on stories will be taken into account by the editorial staff.
    • Our funder(s) may influence special topics to be covered and suggest reporting and writing approaches.
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      CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS

    • We avoid any conflict of interest that undermines our ability to report fairly.
    • We do not allow people to dishonestly skew our reporting and we do not offer to skew our reporting under any circumstances.
    • We do not allow the interests of advertisers or others funding your work to affect the integrity of your journalism.
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      BOMBS AND OTHER THREATS

    • We will consult with local officials to determine whether a bomb threat is credible before we publish a story, but we will reserve the right to publish regardless of what officials say.
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      CHILDREN: COVERAGE, IMAGES AND INTERVIEWS

    • We refrain from featuring photos of children who are connected with a crime as perpetrators, victims or witnesses.
    • We identify children who are charged with a crime only if the child is being tried in adult court.
    • Our journalists seek permission from a parent to interview or photograph when possible.
    • We do not require parental permission to photograph or interview children in breaking news situations.
    • We consider granting confidentiality if we’re covering a story about a sensitive issue that could cause a child to be stereotyped, judged unfairly or put in harm’s way, even if the child doesn’t request it.
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      SOURCES: RELIABILITY AND ATTRIBUTION

    • We may use sources with a conflict of interest in stories, but details that signal the conflict of interest should be included (e.g. a scientist who conducted a study about a drug’s effectiveness when the study was funded by the manufacturer).
    • We use links, if available, for source attribution in online stories.
    • We include source attribution in online stories themselves as well as links, if available, that provide additional information.
    • We consistently include clear attributions throughout a story, even if something has been established as fact.
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      ONLINE COMMENTING

    • We review every comment posted on EastIdahoNews.com.
    • We have a system that permits individuals to “flag” comments for potential problems, and we review those “flagged” comments in a systematic and timely fashion.
    • We edit comments to remove potentially libelous language or hate speech, as we define it, but we do not change spelling or grammatical errors.
    • We allow pseudonyms for commenting as long as a user has registered an account with us.
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      FINANCIAL INTERESTS

    • Our journalists may not own interests in companies they cover regularly.
    • Our journalists should immediately disclose to a supervisor any interests they have in a company they are asked to cover. Supervisors should consider putting another journalist on the story.
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      PERSONAL ETHICS STATEMENTS BY STAFF

    • Our journalists are encouraged to make personal ethics statements, which provide more information about themselves and their attitudes, even though they must follow our corporate values.
    • Our organization’s policy prevails if personal ethics codes and organizational policy conflict.
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      SOCIAL NETWORKS

    • Our journalists should not express opinions on social media about politics, but are free to express opinions on cultural areas such as sports, entertainment or technology if they do not cover those areas and are not likely to cover them.
    • Staff members should always identify themselves in social media profiles, and, if they are using the profile for professional purposes, they should identify themselves as working for our organization.
    • A staff member who considers not identifying himself or herself accurately in a social media profile should explain the extraordinary circumstances to a top editor and receive approval before starting such an account.
    • If staff members want to share unconfirmed information on social media, such as rumor or hearsay, they should explain in the post why they are posting this information, such as seeking community confirmation for the report.
    • Staff members communicating with and about people in dangerous situations, such as war, crime or disaster zones, should consider the safety and security of people depicted or addressed in the social media content.
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      REMOVING ARCHIVED WORK

    • We will update a story in our archives, when requested, including the headline, if the story would damage someone’s reputation and is outdated.
    • We will note when the post was updated.
    • We will correct any errors we learn of in our archived content and note the corrections.
    • We will consider exceptions to our policy in extreme cases, such as abuse or danger to someone’s personal safety.
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      HATE SPEECH

    • We report on hate speech and actions but include original offensive expressions only when specifically necessary for audience understanding of the case.
    • We will note when the post was updated.
    • We consider the perspectives of those offended by hateful expression when making publication decisions.
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      OBSCENITIES

    • We will use obscenities, vulgarities or slurs only in direct quotations and only if the quote is essential to the story.
    • We will replace obscenities, vulgarities and slurs with something that implies the word rather than stating it directly (e.g. “f—”).
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      PLAGARISM AND ATTRIBUTION

    • WWe must always attribute all sources by name and, if the source is digital, by linking to the original source.
    • When we are using someone else’s exact words, we should use quotation marks and attribution.
    • We should always cite news releases if they are our sources, and should quote them if using their exact words.
    • Basic facts may be taken from other sources without varying the wording.
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      PRIVACY

    • We view everything on social media and the internet as fair game for journalists, and everyone knows it, even private individuals. We reserve the right to publish whatever we find online or from public sources.
    • We do not believe that everything celebrities and public officials say and do should be made public, even though they cede a great deal of privacy when they enter the public eye. We analyze cases on an individual basis, taking into account the news value of the public figure’s action.
    • We will voluntarily withhold information we have gathered when requested if we deem the individual’s request to be valid, based on our news judgment and professional standards.
    • We do not hold back from interviewing individuals in traumatic situations (i.e., accidents, terror incidents, etc.), because the public’s right to know outweighs private individual’s rights. Also, if a private individual in such situations talks to us, that’s the person’s decision.
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      SENSATIONAL MATERIALS

    • We will run sensitive material that might be offensive to specific members of the audience after internal debate has demonstrated a clear public interest in and value from the publication.
    • We will run sensitive material when it reflects reality.
    • We will run sensitive material with stories with notes of warning.
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      PHOTO & VIDEO

    • When documenting private or traumatic moments, we will not seek permission to shoot, but will be sensitive to subjects’ situation.
    • We will use drones to capture images in public areas only.
    • If we believe we can provide help or mitigate harm by actively participating in a situation (rather than only documenting it), do so and then disclose your participation to your viewers.
    • We will edit or manipulate images only if doing so doesn’t affect the news content of the image or the meaning viewers will make from it.
    • We will obscure or pixellate images only when the intent is to protect the identify of someone in the image or to protect viewers from gory or graphic material.
    • We will shoot re-enactments of news events only if they add to the understanding of an issue, and then clearly label them as re-enactments.
    • When using generic photos, we will make sure they are clearly labeled as such.
    • If using music in video stories, we will be cognizant of the emotional effect the music may have, and avoid using music if the story is intended to have a neutral voice.
    • We will verify photos or videos from social media before using them.
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      CLICKBAIT AND METRICS

    • We are encouraged to write clever, creative headlines and social media posts that will entice readers to click on our stories, but headlines will not make promises that our stories don’t deliver.
    • We will accurately reflect the content of related stories in headlines and social media posts.
    • We may aggressively court audiences who would be interested in our content, but we will not try to deceive people in headlines, social media posts or marketing.
    • We will use metric considerations as one of a number of factors in determining what we cover and how we place stories.
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      PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

    • We don’t plagiarize or violate copyrights.
    • We keep promises to sources, readers and the community.
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      CONCEALING IDENTITY

    • We permit undercover reporting only when we feel a story is important enough to justify doing so, and we have exhausted all other reasonable methods.
    • We permit undercover reporting, as long as editors are informed in advance and have approved the project based on its news value.
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      HOSTAGE SITUATIONS

    • We will take authorities’ recommendations into account but use our own judgment.
    • We believe our primary responsibility in covering hostage situations is to our readers; we will carry any statements and imagery that we consider newsworthy and within our general guidelines.
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      ACCURACY

    • Our staff members should take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of information that we publish and note our sources.
    • We should not publish rumors or other information we have not verified.
    • If we are unsure of the accuracy of information, we should cite our sources, word stories carefully to avoid spreading false rumors, acknowledge what we don’t know and ask the community’s help in confirming or correcting our information.
    • Reporters may read parts of stories to sources in order to check facts or make sure they understand technical points and procedures. But they should not read full stories to sources before publication and should make clear to the sources that they are only checking facts, not providing an opportunity to change the writing or approach to the story.
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      QUOTATIONS

    • We will clean up random utterances such as pauses, “um” or “you know” unless they materially alter the meaning.
    • We will correct grammatical errors by sources unless they are people in positions of power (e.g., elected officials or public figures).
    • We will allow separate phrases of a quote separated by ellipsis. (“I will go to war … but only if necessary,” the president said.).
    • We will allow separate phrases of a quote separated by attribution. (“I will go to war,” the president said. “But only if necessary.”).
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      COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES

    • Our journalists should disclose community involvements, particularly those involving topics they might cover, both in general statements we will publish on our website and in stories relating to their involvements.
    • Our journalists are encouraged to be involved in the community and the issues we cover, but we will disclose these involvements in our coverage.
    • We will provide factual coverage in a neutral voice despite our organization’s involvement in the issues we cover. We will disclose our affiliation for transparency reasons, but the affiliation should not be evident from a promotional voice or content.
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      PLAGIARISM AND ATTRIBUTION

    • We must always attribute all sources by name and, if the source is digital, by linking to the original source.
    • When we are using someone else’s exact words, we should use quotation marks and attribution.
    • We should always cite news releases if they are our sources, and should quote them if using their exact words.
    • Basic facts may be taken from other sources without varying the wording.
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      AWARDS AND CONTESTS

    • We will accept awards from corporations if we feel such awards will not skew our reporting.
    • We will assess the nature of the contest and make a decision consistent with our overall contest principles if we win a contest we did not enter.
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      FREELANCEWORKBYEMPLOYEES

    • We permit freelancing by full-time employees, but they must receive explicit permission to do so from their direct manager before undertaking such work.
    • We allow part-time employees to perform freelance work, but they must notify their direct managers.
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      REPORTING ON YOUR ORGANIZATION

    • We will assign an internal reporter to cover the story when our organization has done something newsworthy, but we will allow the story to be vetted by a high-level editor.
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      MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE

    • We will cover mental health and suicide as broad public health issues as consistently as we cover other health matters.
    • We will cover individual events of suicide as news stories if they involve prominent figures or public means.
    • We will not use sensational headlines on stories about suicide.
    • We will use obituaries to cover individual events of suicide as appropriate.
    • We will not use graphic images on stories about suicide.
    • We will opt for everyday images of a person who dies by suicide (such as a school photo) instead of images of people grieving.
    • We will Include contact information for resources for people in mental health crises. (e.g. “The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States is available 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.)
    • We will include the method used in a suicide when it is important for audience understanding but not specific details (e.g., noting that a victim shot himself but not covering the type of weapon).
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      PRIVACY

    • We view everything on social media and the internet as fair game for journalists, and everyone knows it, even private individuals. We reserve the right to publish whatever we find online or from public sources.
    • We do not believe that everything celebrities and public officials say and do should be made public, even though they cede a great deal of privacy when they enter the public eye. We analyze cases on an individual basis, taking into account the news value of the public figure’s action.
    • We will voluntarily withhold information we have gathered when requested if we deem the individual’s request to be valid, based on our news judgment and professional standards.
    • We do not hold back from interviewing individuals in traumatic situations (i.e., accidents, terror incidents, etc.), because the public’s right to know outweighs private individual’s rights. Also, if a private individual in such situations talks to us, that’s the person’s decision.
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      AUDIO

    • Audio cuts of newsmakers may be edited to remove insignificant stumbles.
    • We will fully identify person-in-the-street-type speakers in audio cuts unless there is a compelling reason not to.
    • Our journalists may mix sound from different sources as long as it gives a true picture of what happened (even if it was not all recorded at the same time).
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      USER GENERATED CONTENT

    • We consider UGC an extension of our own journalism. We don’t run such material unless we’re sure it’s authentic.
    • We partner with other organizations and the public in attempts to verify what UGC is accurate. This means distributing it with caveats that it hasn’t been verified.
    • We will not distribute UGC content unless we’re certain we have the rights to do so. The only exception might be an urgent situation where a rights-holder cannot be found.
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      NEWS AND ADVERTISING

    • We do not allow advertisers to have a say in the selection or content of stories and photos.
    • We require news-like content produced by advertisers to be clearly identified as advertising.
    • We have specific, consistent definitions of terms like “Advertisement,” “Sponsored Content” and “Message from …” and disclose them to our readers.
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