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Ethics

1. Pay your own way

It is unethical to accept free tickets, meals and other favors from sources. It could appear as though the giver was trying to buy favorable press from you.

2. No email interviews

It is fine to contact people via email and arrange appointments, but you must either connect with them in person or via phone. You don’t know who is on the other end of an email, and you want to get off-the-cuff responses, not crafted quotes.

3. No prior review

No one has the right to view your editorial content prior to publication, except your editors. This includes sources, administrators and advertisers. If a source would like to hear his/her direct quotes for accuracy before publication, that is OK, but make it clear that he/she is not allowed to make changes to them.

4. Do not accept gifts valued at more than $10

It is best not to take any gifts at all, but if it would be rude not to accept a T-shirt or small promotional item, that’s fine. You would be wise to give the item away, though, for fear of appearing biased.

5. No anonymous sources

Your name goes on your story, and so should your sources’ names. Do not stick your neck out there for someone who does not want to be accountable for the information he/she gives you.

6. Avoid conflicts of interest

If you are in a particular student organization, you may not report on that organization. For example, if you are in SGA, you cannot cover an SGA meeting for a story. It is impossible for you to be impartial when you belong in the organization you are reporting about.

7. Do not interview friends/family/co-workers

This is one of the laziest, most irresponsible things a reporter can do. You can ask your friends if they know people you can talk to for a story, but do not interview people you already have a relationship with. It will appear biased. If you have a source that is questionable, ASK ME FIRST.

8. Maintain professional boundaries with sources

In the interest of avoiding bias, it is important that you establish and maintain boundaries with sources you use regularly. For example, if you are a police reporter, do not date a sheriff’s deputy.

9. Don’t promise favors

You should never pay for a story or interview, and you should not promise favors of any kind to sources in exchange for information. Also, do not promise favorable coverage of any kind to sources, administrators or advertisers.

10. Be transparent

If there is a question about your work, be prepared to explain and justify your reporting and writing. Your editor should have your back, but you need to make sure everything you do is on the level.

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