Madison365 is a producer and publisher of professional community journalism. We employ professional community journalists and editors. Community journalists and community news publishers believe that a well-informed community is the foundation of local democracy, equity, and civic engagement. Community journalists further believe that all voices deserve to be heard.
Ethical community journalism strives to ensure free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. Ethical community journalists act with integrity and respect for their fellow community members. Ethical community journalists use the skills and resources available to them as journalists for the betterment of the community in which they live and work. Ethical community journalists seek to gain the trust of our fellow community members. Our fellow community members should trust that the stories we tell them are true and complete, and should trust us to tell their stories truthfully and completely.
We strive to uphold the high ethical standards expected of professional journalists as outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists.
We Seek Truth and Report It
- We take responsibility for the accuracy of our work. We verify information before releasing it. We use original sources whenever possible.
- We value and provide context. We take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
- We gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story. We disclose when corrections and updates have been made.
- We identify sources clearly. When identifying a source could endanger that source, we will not publish the identity of the source, and we will disclose the reason that we did not identify the source. The community is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources, and community members are entitled to have their stories told and their voices amplified without fear of retribution.
- We diligently seek community members who are subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
- We never employ undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the community.
- We are vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. We recognize our own power and use it for the good of the community. We amplify the voices of those whose voices are marginalized or silenced.
- We support the open and civil exchange of views, even views we disagree with.
- We recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs, government and corporate interests. We seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
- We provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
- We boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. We seek sources whose voices are seldom heard.
- We avoid stereotyping. We constantly examine, and are transparent about, the ways our own values and experiences may shape our reporting.
- We label advocacy and commentary.
- We never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information.
- We never plagiarize.
We Minimize Harm
- We balance the community’s need for information against potential harm. We seek to balance the community’s right to know with a community member’s right to privacy. We realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures, elected officials and others who seek power, influence or attention.
- We feel compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. We are especially sensitive when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. We always consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
- We recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast it.
- We don’t pander to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
- We balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the community’s right to know. We consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
- We consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. We provide updated and more complete information as appropriate, and we disclose that we have done so.
We Act Independently
- We disclose relationships and involvements that might be perceived to cause a conflict of interest. We don’t allow our personal relationships and involvements to affect our news judgement or news reporting.
- We don’t allow gifts, favors or any other special treatment to affect our news judgement or news reporting.
- We don’t allow our personal political opinions to affect our news judgement or news reporting.
- We do not pay sources nor for access to news.
- We clearly identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
- We deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
- We distinguish news from advertising. We always prominently label sponsored content.
We Are Accountable and Transparent
- We explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. We welcome a civil dialogue with the community about our responsibility to the community and what the community expects of us.
- We respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
- We acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. We disclose and explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
- We abide by the same standards that we expect our fellow community members to uphold.