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October 12, 2005

Ethical Journalism


Sources: In news reports, sources should be fully identified and anonymous only when absolutely essential to a significant story. Before using an unnamed source, a reporter must be convinced there is no other way to get the essential information on the record. The unnamed source must have verifiable and first-hand knowledge of the story. Even if the source cannot be named, the information must be proven true. If you are unsure the information is true, admit it to the public. Be willing to reveal to the public why the source cannot be named and what, if any, promises were made in order to get the information. Using anonymous sources must be approved by the managing editor before publication. Stories should have two independent sources when based on anonymous sources unless otherwise approved by the managing editor. Make every effort to keep sources from going off the record. We do not publish ambush or defamatory quotes from anonymous sources. Discuss these issues with your editor.

Conflicts of Interest: We encourage our news staff to become involved in community activities. However, avoid direct connections or investments in companies or organizations about which you personally might be reporting. Also, be selective about which organizations you join; any group could be the subject of a newspaper report. In no case should you be a publicist for the organization or report on it. Confer with your department head when questions arise.

Political Activity: Avoid any public political activity, including contributions that would be on public records and could be used in endorsements without your knowledge. Do not run for office, speak, sign political petitions or campaign for any candidate or in behalf of any issue except in connection with professional journalism groups. This is not intended to discourage exercising your right to vote.

Photographs, Graphics: Visuals have a tremendous impact on our readers. Follow good taste and good sense. As in many areas of taste, these should be discussed on their individual merits with the managing editor. Editorial photographs should never mislead the reader regarding their content, time or place of the information depicted. All environmental portraits or controlled situations should be executed in a manner that makes the context obvious to the reader. These must be clearly labeled as photo illustrations. The Pharos-Tribune prohibits misleading manipulation of news photo images.

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