The TAO of Journalism Pledge
By displaying this seal, we hereby agree to be Transparent, Accountable and Open.
We will fully disclose who we are, our journalistic mission and our guiding principles. We will post information on our background and expertise, including education and experience. We will list advertisers, donors, grants, and any other payments that support our work. If affiliated with a political party or special-interest group, we will disclose that. If lobbying for any particular legislation or regulation, we will disclose that. If we are being paid to promote a product or cause, we will disclose that. If other factors could be seen as potential conflicts of interest, we will disclose them. (NOTE: The principle of transparency does not apply to confidential sources, who may still be protected.)
If we get any facts wrong, we will admit that promptly and publicly. We will post/publish/print/podcast/broadcast a correction or at least a clarification. We will fully explain what happened to cause the error or mistake. We will do a follow-up story if that is appropriate, putting the original material in better context. We will apologize and promise to be more careful next time. We will show a little humility.
If there are credible challenges to our point of view or simply differences of opinion, we will be open to contrary positions. We will give the other side(s) opportunity and space to express their views and engage in open public dialogue through comments or other means. If we are primarily engaged in opinion and commentary, rather than news reporting, we will make that clear – while inviting others to express their opinions through comment and feedback means.
We do not necessarily agree to abide by any particular code of journalism ethics or professional standards, although we may choose to do so. If we do, we will declare that publicly. If we don’t, we will declare that as well. We understand that this will not be enforced by any outside organized group. It will be overseen by everyone on the Internet who wants to see high standards of transparency, accountability and openness in journalism – through whatever media platform.
We understand that if someone using the “TAO Seal” starts violating its basic principles, they will be admonished, criticized, reprimanded and embarrassed in public through the awesome power of the Internet. Call it “crowdsourcing” ethics and accuracy. In summary, we believe that Transparency, Accountability and Openness are keys to our personal credibility and public trust.
NOTE: The TAO of Journalism Seal is property of the Washington News Council. Call 206.262.9793 or write to info at wanewscouncil dot org for permission to use it in print, broadcast or online. It is open to individuals and organizations. Requested donation: $25 for individuals and $50 for organizations, to cover costs of trademarking, website design/maintenance, outreach, tracking, etc. (No cost to high-school or college media outlets.) All donations are tax-deductible. The Washington News Council is a 501c3 nonprofit group.
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