Our readers’ trust is Rio Linda Messenger’s most valuable asset. Every day, we seek to report the truth fully while remaining independent and free from political, social, financial, or other special interests.
Journalists frequently face choices and conflicts that directly affect the trust we earn from our communities. Conflicts of interest – real or perceived – and other behavior that brings our integrity into question can damage that trust.
These ethical guidelines for The Messenger outline the values and standards that guide our journalism. No policy can address every conflict that may arise in our day-to-day work. It’s the responsibility of The Messenger to use good judgment and confer with peers if the answer to an ethical question is not completely clear.
ACCURACY AND FAIRNESS
- We don’t mislead readers. We are forthright and honest with our readers and sources in all cases. Making up sources, quotes or circumstances is prohibited and has no place in journalism.
- We correct errors as quickly as possible. When digital content is updated because of an error, we should be transparent to readers that a story has been corrected and include the date and/or time the correction/update was made.
- Our primary objective is to find and report the truth. Every day, we strive for journalism that is free of favoritism or bias. Reporters should work to understand all points of view, particularly on complex subjects. Readers should not be able to determine the personal opinions of those who shape our journalism. However, this news website is decidedly pro-Rio Linda/Elverta on most if not all issues. That should always be expected when reading our articles.
- We do not use someone else’s work without proper attribution.
TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY
- Newsroom employees must identify themselves when representing the news organization in settings where the public does not have access or when interviewing someone.
- As journalists, we need to be in touch and engaged with the communities we cover, but our civic involvement must not raise questions about our impartiality or give the impression we have taken sides.
- News employees should not use their position or access to nonpublic information to obtain personal or financial benefits for themselves, family members, or friends. They should not use the company’s name to gain favor, threaten, or pressure or seek special consideration.
- Staff members are encouraged to make public appearances for the purpose of improving public understanding of our role and to make the company a more visible part of the community. Any appearance that could be perceived by a reasonable person as a conflict of interest must be avoided.
- We do not offer money, favors or anything of value for interviews or for information that people provide us. We will pay standard costs associated with reproducing documents or electronic data from sources.
- Opinion journalists are not constrained by the same prohibitions on expressing their personal points of view that guide reporters and news editors. The job of columnists, editorial writers and opinion editors is to make a well-reasoned case for opinions that are backed up by facts. Columnists, editorial writers and opinion editors will, however, abide by the same guidelines for civic and political activities that news reporters and editors follow.
- Information or documents provided by an unnamed source should be corroborated by at least one additional source who obtained the information or documents independent of the first source. If a second source cannot be found, a single source may be acceptable if he/she is extremely well-placed and reliable.
- When sourcing stories from social media platforms or users, we should always identify ourselves as journalists and make our intention clear.
- Except in very rare cases approved by an editor, we do not let sources or others who may have an interest review a story, video, photograph or other material intended for publication. Reading back technical or complex quotes is acceptable, but the only purpose here is to assure accuracy. The purpose of reading back quotes is for sources to verify them, or clarify if necessary, not to edit or retract.
OUR PUBLIC INTERACTIONS
- We treat sources, story subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. Recognize that the process of reporting may cause harm or discomfort. Balance that by choosing alternatives that maximize your goals of seeking the truth and reporting it while minimizing harm.
- We do not identify the victims of sex crimes without their consent. In all instances, we are sensitive to the vulnerability of a crime victim. If a crime victim does not wish to be identified in a news story, we weigh carefully their wishes and the public’s need to know.
- Documentary content and posed content should be easily distinguished from each other.
- Adjustments to any image will be limited to standard industry practices to accurately reflect the scene that was photographed.
- In video production, enhancements to improve sound quality and visual quality are allowed as long as the content/intent of the story remains intact.
- When using drones, we avoid actions in the air that we would not engage in on the ground.