How are anonymous sources handled? What’s the corrections process? What are my privacy rights? We go over all of that (and more) here.
Have any further questions? You can email email@example.com.
In our capacity as journalists, it’s our responsibility to provide the public with accurate and fair information obtained from a reliable source.
In most cases, the quotes we use must include attribution so that readers know exactly where the information is coming from and are made aware of the expertise a source might have on the subject at hand.
A source can be anything from an authority figure to a witness, as long as they are familiar with the topic being discussed and can provide insight that is unbiased. It’s important to note that journalists are also responsible for fact-checking all claims made by said source(s).
However, there are some instances where a person may wish to remain anonymous. While we can’t always honor a request of anonymity, here’s a look at circumstances where we can do so:
- Delicate subject matters (e.g., sexual assault) where subjects express a need for secrecy
- If a subject’s life, family and/or livelihood will be put in real danger with the disclosure of their identity
- We cannot acquire the material elsewhere
- The story itself is newsworthy and truly important to the community as a whole
- If we choose to use material from an anonymous source, we must ensure that:
- The material is factual and critical for our report and isn’t opinion or mere speculation
- The source is credible and has first-hand knowledge on the subject matter
Corrections and Clarification
Factual errors must be addressed right away and corrected accordingly.
In the instance where a mistake is made, we must fix it publicly, meaning that we must explain to our readers the reason for the correction as well as an explanation of how the error occurred in the first place.
This correction note is placed directly in the article, with the word ‘correction’ written in all caps and highlighted in yellow.
- We don’t send questions ahead of time
- We determine a time and day that best aligns with a source’s schedule
- We independently verify claims
- We prefer in-person interviews. But in the case that we must have a virtual interview, we make the interviewee aware that the full interview is being recorded for accuracy of quotes
- If the interview was done through email, we will make note of that in the article
- If a source is asked a question that they do not wish to answer, they can decline to comment, and we will articulate this in the article
- After the story is published, a source can always contact the journalist if they notice any factual incorrect information in the report. We will correct it accordingly and put a “correction” note at the bottom
Conflicts of Interest
We must take every precaution to ensure that our reporting is free from partiality in order to provide news that is accurate and fair.
In doing so, we must have models in place that help reporters steer clear of bias and favoritism. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- Reporting facts, not opinion
- Providing balanced political coverage, regardless of one’s political affiliation
- Rejecting large gifts, money or favors from sources, businesses, etc.
- Making sure articles are reviewed by multiple editors
A quick Google search is all it takes now to find any articles that have been written about you or featured you as a story subject. This is something we keep in mind throughout the editorial process. We believe in an individual’s right to privacy and we want to refrain from violating that right without good reason.
Here are some ways we protect the privacy of those we cover:
- Blur out faces, license plates or other identifiable information
- Leaving out information that’s not relevant to the story (ex: sexual orientation)
- Asking for explicit permission to publish a person’s name, record an interview, etc.
Privacy rights for minors
We take extra care to protect the privacy of minors, as they may not be fully aware of their rights.
In some cases, this means not publishing their name or showing their face.
We don’t identify minors who have been accused of crimes or who witnessed a crime.
Privacy rights for suspects and victims of crimes
When covering stories where a person has been accused of a crime, we take extra care to report the facts and avoid leading our viewers to jump to conclusions.
In these cases, wording is everything. We can’t accuse someone of a crime before they’ve been convicted.
To avoid this, we focus on the information we have at hand and be mindful of word choices. Bad wording can ruin someone’s reputation.
When a person has been arrested for a crime, their name is now a part of the public record and is reportable. But, it’s our job to follow up on the person’s case and keep up with if the person was convicted or not.