Adapted from the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics
Seek Truth and Report It
Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. We expect our writers to:
- Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible. Speed never excuses inaccuracy.
- Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify.
- Gather, update, and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
- Be cautious when making promises. Keep promises made.
- Identify sources clearly so readers may judge their reliability and motivations.
- Reserve anonymity for sources who may face harm and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.
- Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
- Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
- Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
- Provide access to source material when relevant and appropriate.
- Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
- Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
- Clearly identify advocacy and commentary.
- Never deliberately distort facts or context.
- Never plagiarize. Always attribute.
Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect. We expect our writers to:
- Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm.
- Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
- Recognize that legal access to information is not identical to ethical justification to publish.
- Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing personal information.
- Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
- Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
- Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.
The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public. We expect our writers to:
- Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
- Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.
- Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
- Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
- Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.
- Be accountable and transparent.
- Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.
Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public. We expect our writers to:
- Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
- Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
- Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
- Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.
Accuracy, honesty, and transparency are central values of OnlySky. Perfection is not. No matter how careful we are, we know mistakes will happen. We strive to correct errors quickly and thoroughly while ensuring transparency. Read our Corrections Policy here.
We welcome and greatly appreciate your help identifying any errors our team may have missed—most importantly factual errors, which we are committed to transparently correcting as quickly as possible. You can submit a correction at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Correction” in the subject line of your email.