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Business-Financial, Technology and Media News. Sample letter declining an unsolicited award. Letter of understanding with the Newspaper Guild of New York. The reputation of The Times rests upon such perceptions, and so do the professional reputations of its staff members. Thus The Times and members of its news department and editorial staff share an interest in avoiding conflicts of interest or an appearance of a conflict.
Whatever else we contribute, our first duty is to make sure the integrity of The Times is not blemished during our stewardship. Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may come up in many areas. They may involve the relationships of staff members with readers, news sources, advocacy groups, advertisers, or competitors; with one another, or with the newspaper or its parent company.
And at a time when two-career families are the norm, the civic and professional activities of spouses, family and companions can create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts. In keeping with its solemn responsibilities under the First Amendment, The Times Journalists dating each other to maintain the highest standards of journalistic ethics.
It is confident that its staff members share that goal. The Times also recognizes that staff members should be free to do creative, civic and personal work and to earn extra income in ways separate from their work at The Times. These guidelines generally apply to all members of the news and editorial departments whose work directly affects the content of the paper, including those on leaves of absence.
They include reporters, editors, editorial writers, photographers, picture editors, art directors, artists, deers, graphics editors and researchers. News clerks, administrative assistants, secretaries and other support staff are generally not bound by these strictures, with two important exceptions: First, no newsroom Journalists dating each other editorial employee may exploit for personal gain any nonpublic information acquired at work, or use his or her association with The Times to gain favor or advantage.
Our contracts with freelance contributors require them to avoid conflicts of interest, real or apparent. In keeping with that, they must honor these guidelines in their Times asments, as set forth in Section The Times believes beyond question that its staff shares the values these guidelines are intended to protect. In the past The Times has Journalists dating each other differences of view over applying these values amiably through discussion, almost without exception.
The paper has every reason to believe that pattern will continue. Nevertheless, The Times views any deliberate violation of these guidelines as a serious offense that may lead to disciplinary action, potentially including dismissal, subject to the terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Our fundamental purpose is to protect the impartiality and neutrality of The Times and the integrity of its report. In many instances, merely applying that purpose with common Journalists dating each other will point to the ethical course. Sometimes the answer is self-evident. Every staff member is expected to read this document carefully and to think about how it might apply to his or her duties. A lack of familiarity with its provisions cannot excuse a violation; to the contrary, it makes the violation worse. The provisions presented here can offer only broad principles and some examples.
Our world changes constantly, sometimes dramatically. No written document could anticipate every possibility. Thus we expect staff members to consult their supervisors and the standards editor or the deputy editorial editor if they have any doubts about any particular situation or opportunity covered by this document. In most cases an exchange of s should suffice. Thus this handbook is not an exhaustive compilation of all situations that may give rise to an actual or perceived conflict of interest. It does not exclude situations or issues giving rise to such conflicts simply because they are not explicitly covered within this document, nor does the document or any of its particular provisions create an implied or express contract of employment with any individual to whom the guidelines apply.
The Times reserves the right to modify and expand the guidelines from time to time, as appropriate.
See the letter of understanding with the Newspaper Guild of New York, included in the appendix below. The authority to interpret and apply these guidelines is vested in department he and ranking editors, most notably in the standards editor and the deputy editorial editor.
They may delegate that Journalists dating each other to their ranking assistants, but they remain responsible for decisions made in their name. In addition to this handbook, we observe the Newsroom Integrity Statement, promulgated inwhich deals with such rudimentary professional practices as the importance of checking facts, the exactness of quotations, the integrity of photographs and our distaste for anonymous sourcing; and the Policy on Confidential Sources, issued in These documents are available from the standards editor or on the Newsroom home under Policies.
As employees of the Times Company, we observe the Rules of the Road, which are the axiomatic standards of behavior governing our dealing with colleagues and going about our work. The Times treats its readers as fairly and Journalists dating each other as possible. In print and online, we tell our readers the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it. It is our policy to correct our errors, large and small, as soon as we become aware of them. We treat our readers no less fairly in private than in public. Anyone who deals with readers is expected to honor that principle, knowing that ultimately the readers are our employers.
Civility applies whether an exchange takes place in person, by telephone, by letter or online. Simple courtesy suggests that we not alienate our readers by ignoring their letters and s that warrant reply. The Times gathers information for the benefit of its readers. Staff members may not use their Times position to make inquiries for any other purpose.
As noted above, they may not seek any advantage for themselves or others by acting on or disclosing information acquired in their work but not yet available to readers. Staff members who plagiarize or who knowingly or recklessly provide false information for publication betray our fundamental pact with our readers. We Journalists dating each other not tolerate such behavior. The Times treats news sources Journalists dating each other as fairly and openly as it treats readers.
Staff members may not threaten to damage uncooperative sources. They may not promise favorable coverage in return for cooperation. They may not pay for interviews or unpublished documents. Staff members should disclose their identity to people they cover whether face to face Journalists dating each other otherwisethough they need not always announce their status as journalists when seeking information normally available to the public.
Staff members may not pose as police officers, lawyers, business people or anyone else when they are working as journalists. As happens on rare occasions, when seeking to enter countries that bar journalists, correspondents may take cover from vagueness and identify themselves as traveling on business or as tourists.
Theater, music and art critics and other writers who review goods or services offered to the public may conceal their Times connection but may not normally assert a false identity or affiliation. As an exception, restaurant critics may make reservations in false names to protect their identity. Restaurant critics and travel writers must conceal their Times affiliation to eliminate the possibility of special treatment.
Relationships with sources require the utmost in sound judgment and self discipline to prevent the fact or appearance of partiality. Cultivating sources is an essential skill, often practiced most effectively in informal settings outside of normal business hours. Yet staff members, especially those ased to beats, must be sensitive that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance.
And conversely staff members must be aware that sources are eager to win our good will for reasons of their own. Even though this topic defies hard and fast rules, it is essential that we preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias. Staff members may see sources informally over a meal or drinks, but they must keep in mind the difference between legitimate business and personal friendship.
A City Hall reporter who enjoys a weekly round of golf with a City Council member, for example, risks creating an appearance of coziness, even if they sometimes discuss business on the course. Scrupulous practice requires that periodically we step back and take a hard look at whether we have drifted too close to sources we deal with regularly. The acid test of freedom from favoritism is the ability to maintain good working relationships with all parties to a dispute.
Clearly, romantic involvement with a news source would foster an appearance of partiality. Therefore staff members who develop close relationships with people who might figure in coverage they provide, edit, package or supervise must disclose those relationships to the standards editor, the associate managing editor for news administration or the deputy editorial editor.
In some cases, no further action may be needed. But in other instances staff members may have to recuse themselves from certain coverage. And in still other cases, asments may have to be modified or beats changed. In a few instances, a staff member may have to move to a different department — from business and financial news, say, to the culture desk—to avoid the appearance of conflict. Staff members must obey the law in the pursuit of news. They may not break into buildings, homes, apartments or offices. They may not purloin data, documents or other property, including such electronic property as databases and or voice mail messages.
They may not tap telephones, invade computer files or otherwise eavesdrop electronically on news sources. In short, they may not commit illegal acts of any sort. Staff members may not use the identification cards or special plates issued by police or other official agencies except in doing their jobs.
Staff members whose duties do not require special plates must return them. Staff members may not record conversations without the prior consent of all parties to the conversations. Even where the law allows recording with only one party aware of it, the practice is a deception. Masthead editors may make rare exceptions to this prohibition Journalists dating each other places where recordings made secretly are legal.
The Times pays the expenses when its representatives entertain news sources including government officials or travel to cover them. In some business situations and in some cultures, it may be unavoidable to accept a meal or a drink paid for by a news source.
Whenever practical, however, the reporter should suggest dining where The Times can pay. Staff members may not accept free or discounted transportation and lodging except where special circumstances give us little or no choice. Among them are certain military or scientific expeditions and other trips for which alternative arrangements would be impractical — for example, a flight aboard a corporate jet during which an executive is interviewed. Staff members should consult their supervisors and the standards editor or the deputy editorial editor when special circumstances arise.
Staff members who review artistic performances or cover athletic or other events where admission is charged for example, the New York Auto Show may accept the press passes or tickets customarily made available. No other staff members, not even editors in the culture and sports departments, may accept free tickets. Even when paying the box office price, no staff member may use his or her Times position to request choice or hard-to-get seats unless the performance has a clear bearing on his or her job. Staff members compete zealously but deal with competitors openly and honestly.
We do not invent obstacles to hamstring their efforts. When we use facts reported by another publication, we attribute them. Staff members may not teams covering news events for other organizations, and they may not accept payment from competitors for Journalists dating each other tips. They may not be listed on the masthead of any non-Times publication. Exceptions can be made for publications that do Journalists dating each other in any way compete with The Times, such as a church or synagogue newsletter, an alumni magazine or a club bulletin.
Staff members may not accept gifts, tickets, discounts, reimbursements or other inducements from any individuals or organizations covered by The Times or likely to be covered by The Times. Gifts should be returned with a polite explanation. A sample letter for use in such situations appears below. See the appendix.
Staff members may not accept employment or compensation of any sort from individuals or organizations who figure or are likely to figure in coverage they provide, edit, package or supervise. Staff members may not accept anything that could be construed as a payment for favorable coverage or as an inducement to alter or forgo unfavorable coverage. They may share in reprint fees that other journalistic media pay The Times, according to the terms of our contract with the Newspaper Guild.
Staff members may accept any gifts or discounts available to the general public. Normally they are also free to take advantage of conventional corporate discounts that the Times Company has offered to share with all employees for example, corporate car rental rates. Staff members must be mindful, however, that large discounts — even those negotiated by the Times Company — may create the appearance of partiality, especially by those who have a hand in the coverage of the company or industry offering the discount. If General Motors, for instance, offers substantial trade discounts Journalists dating each other all Journalists dating each other Company employees, the Detroit correspondent should not accept without discussing the possible appearance of favoritism with the responsible editors.
If any such discounts do raise doubts, staff members should bring them to the attention of their department he and the standards editor or the deputy editorial editor before accepting. Staff members may not accept allocations from brokerage firms.
It is an inherent conflict for a Times staff member to perform public relations work, paid or unpaid.Journalists dating each other
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