Press Start supports the democratic right of citizens to access accurate information in a meaningful context. The goal of journalism is to observe on behalf of those citizens, to monitor the powerful, to foster public discussion and consideration, and to help people understand events in their countries and beyond. Yet as media become more democratized, with the tools of publishing and distribution increasingly accessible, it is natural that audiences will increasingly question the trustworthiness of what they read, see, and hear. It is more important than ever, therefore, that journalists be independent and fair, and act with the utmost integrity. It is critical that journalists adhere to the highest standards to earn the public’s trust. In that context, Press Start journalists must:
- abide by the law in their news-gathering efforts.
- strive for independence, the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Their primary obligation is to inform citizens, not to serve a publication’s owners or advertisers, other business interests, or the government. However, it is the duty of the journalist to cover all relevant views on an event or issue. Similarly, journalists must avoid approaching stories with a point of view, political or otherwise. They must leave their personal biases at home. There is a place for commentators and editorialists, but reporters must not cross the line into opinion, lest it undermine their ability to be, and to be perceived as, impartial.
- be transparent and accountable to show how the reporting was done. Share what the facts are and who the sources are. Similarly, journalists should say what they don’t know, which informs readers of the missing pieces and enhances the story’s credibility.
- value accuracy as paramount. Errors undermine trust and must be corrected quickly and transparently.
- aim for balance and fairness in coverage. Cover both, or all, sides of an issue. Let the readers draw their own conclusions. In that context, seek comment from both sides. Even if a journalist believes the response from one side of a story to be predictable, each side has the right to explain its position. if one party declines to comment, then the journalist should report that as well.
- remember that while striving for accuracy, independence, and fairness, they must make coverage relevant and interesting. Journalism is most effective when it engages its audience.
- use anonymous sources in stories sparingly, and only if their comments are crucial and those sources have proved trustworthy. Transparency fosters credibility. However, if journalists use anonymous sources and refer to them in stories, they have an obligation to protect those sources from authorities.
- not fabricate stories, manipulate content such as photos or video in a way that would change their meaning, or plagiarize. If they use others’ reporting, it must be credited, although it is no substitute for original reporting.
- not accept bribes or pay any source for a story. This is critical to remain not only independent but also free from accusations of influence or that a story was conjured up by financial incentive or deceit.
- strive to treat all subjects of news coverage with respect and dignity, but without any particular deference to those in power. Although journalists' first duty is to the audience, they should exercise appropriate care when reporting on the plight of vulnerable people, including children and victims of conflict. Any potentially injurious treatment of them must be minimal, necessary to the story, and in the public interest.
- respect the rights and privacy of children and adults who are not in a position to give informed consent to coverage. In such cases, the journalist should seek spoken permission, at a minimum, for coverage from an adult with the authority to confer it.
- avoid overt or implied condemnation of or discrimination against subjects based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, caste, tribe, language, or ethnicity.