Code of Ethics

Ethics in the pursuit of truth is an absolute in journalism. In developing our code of ethics, we have made generous use of the best thinking from those whose journalistic values mirror our own.

Watchdog.org has one obligation: To tell the truth.

Journalists hold people, government and other institutions accountable for their words and actions. Therefore we must maintain the highest principals in our conduct because we also should be held accountable. Our integrity is our most valuable asset. Without it, we lose the public trust invested in us by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

We are committed to the highest standards of truth and accuracy; accessibility and independence.

When we make an error in fact, we will acknowledge it and correct it promptly.

Writing that is opinion in nature will be clearly labeled so as not to confuse or mislead readers.

We will never knowingly publish falsehood as unquestioned truth.

We will not use our media positions for purposes other than those of our reporting. For example, we will not use our influence as journalists to expedite personal business with, or seek special consideration from, public officials, including law enforcement.

Transparency is important to us, as is informing readers of the identities of our sources. We recognize that withholding the name of a source in a news story or opinion piece can hurt a story’s credibility, and we will make every effort to persuade all sources to allow us to use their names.

If we do withhold a name from publication, we will ask for an on-the-records reason for concealing the identity and will include that reason in the story in such a way that the source is not revealed. Use of a confidential source must be approved by the news director or publisher, and the name of the source must be revealed to that manager.

With few exceptions, we will not print obscene or profane language. Source and context will be considered.

We will seek to protect victims and witnesses of crime, especially when their lives or safety might be endangered by publication of their names or addresses. Names of victims of such crimes might be published, but only if approved by the news director or publisher.

Violation of our code of ethics will subject an employee to disciplinary action.

Published policies and practices in place at Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., Dallas Morning News, Gannett Company, McClatchy Newspapers, New York Times, Shaw Media, The Society of Professional Journalists, and Washington Post were considered as part of the creation of our Code of Ethics.