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Code of Ethics and Editorial Independence

Documented

Nov 09, 2020

Documented is an independent 501(c)3 designated news organization dedicated to covering the issues that matter to New York’s immigrant communities and the people who work with them. The following code of ethics and conduct is what we follow as a company in collecting information and publishing it. It was inspired by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics

Guidelines for Reporters around Gathering Facts: 

Ensure sources fully understand what they are agreeing to when speaking to the press. This includes the rules around publishing information and what can or cannot be changed after publication. 

Practice “no surprises” journalism, meaning that all subjects of our stories are generally aware of what is being said about them before the article is published. We do not share the full text with sources beforehand and will correct factual mistakes quickly and transparently if notified. 

Fully engage with weighing the news value of making public information about private and public individuals. Strive to ensure the information we publish has significant public value. 

Guidelines for Documented around Publishing News:

In keeping with our mission, seek to reflect the views of the communities we serve first and foremost. 

Use humanistic language when describing people. 

Ensure publicity of a story reflects the content and tone of the story itself. 

Documented only changes published text that is factually incorrect. 

All of the information we publish on our website is based in fact. We do not use fake names because of this. Anonymity is granted when a source has a legitimate fear of danger or retaliation, which must be explained in the text. Identify anonymous sources with as much specificity as possible. 

Label sponsored content clearly and prominently. 

Consider long term implications of publishing information and adjust if necessary. 

Personal Conduct:

Be professional with coworkers and the public. Asking tough questions is difficult but reporters do not need to be rude. 

We support no political agenda or advocate for specific legislative change. Our watchdog work serves to document how systems can fail the people they are designed to serve and other forms of wrongdoing, not advocate for political reform. 

Always balance the potential value of information with the potential harm it could create.

Avoid conflicts of interest, payments, gifts or fees for news coverage. Avoid involvement with political and community organizations and public statements on social media and otherwise that may compromise your ability to report fairly. 

Funding and editorial independence

Documented retains full authority over our editorial content. Our reporting will never be affected by the sources of our revenue. 

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations to pay our staff, contributing writers and photographers, business expenses and to fund special projects, but our editorial decisions are made by Documented’s staff and board of directors, exclusively. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

Documented will make public all donors who provide $5,000 or more per year to the organization. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place, and that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with the Institute for Nonprofit News’ Membership Standards.

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