The Boston Globe
Journalism Ethics Policy
May 15, 2008
Introduction and Purpose
1. The Core Purpose of The Boston Globe, and its parent, The New York Times Company, is to "enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment." The central place of The Globe in fulfilling that promise is underscored by the No. 1 statement in our Core Values: "Content of the highest quality and integrity: This is the basis for our reputation and the means by which we fulfill the public trust and our customers' expectations."
2. At The Boston Globe, our goal is to cover the news impartially and to treat readers, news sources, advertisers and all parts of our society fairly and openly, and to be seen as doing so. The reputation of The Globe rests upon that perception, and so do the professional reputations of our staff members. Thus The Globe and members of its newsroom and editorial page share an interest in avoiding conflicts of interest or any appearance of conflict.
3. Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may arise in many areas. They may involve tensions between journalists' professional obligations to our audience and their relationships with news sources, advocacy groups, advertisers, or competitors; with one another; or with The Globe. And at a time when two-career families are the norm, the civic and professional activities of spouses, household members and other relatives can create conflicts or the appearance of them.
3A. We must avoid any perception that The Globe's impartiality is in doubt. In practical terms, that means that staff members may not use their positions in any way to obtain special privileges, from people or institutions in the news, that are not equally available to the general public. Nor can they use their positions to obtain favorable coverage from – or even special access to – the newspaper for family or friends who do not on their own merits warrant such coverage.
4. In keeping with its solemn responsibilities under the First Amendment, The Globe strives to maintain the highest standard of journalistic ethics. We are confident that our staff members share that goal. We also recognize that staff members should be free to do creative, civic and personal work and to earn extra income in ways separate from their work in our organization. Before engaging in such outside activities, though, staff members should exercise mature professional judgment and consider the stake we all have in the irreplaceable good name of The Globe.
The Scope of This Policy
5. These guidelines generally apply to all members of our news and editorial departments whose work directly affects our content and The Globe's reputation, including those on leaves of absence. They include writers, reporters, columnists, editors, editorial writers, photographers, copy editors, picture editors, art directors, artists, designers, graphics editors, researchers, interns and news assistants or "coops.'' This entire group of professional journalists is what this document means by "staff" or "staff members."
5a. These guidelines are intended to shield the integrity not just of our journalists but of our journalism overall. For that reason, the provisions limiting political activity or partisanship apply also to the publisher, and other Globe corporate officials that he may designate. These specific provisions are detailed in Paragraph 87a below.
6. As noted above, these guidelines apply to any employee of the news and editorial departments whose work influences our content. Even when that is not the case, support people are always governed by two important provisions:
§ First, no newsroom or editorial page employee may exploit for personal gain any nonpublic information acquired at work, or use an association with our news organization to gain favor or advantage.
§ And second, no one may do anything that damages our news staffs' reputation for strict neutrality in reporting on politics and government; in particular, no one may wear campaign buttons or display any other form of political partisanship while on the job.
7. Our contracts with freelance contributors require them to avoid conflicts of interest, real or apparent. In keeping with that provision, they must honor these guidelines in their Globe assignments, as set forth in Section C below.
8. This policy will not be interpreted or applied so as to preclude speech and activities protected by statute or by the collective bargaining agreement.
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The Nature of This Policy
9. Our fundamental purpose is to protect the impartiality and neutrality of The Globe's newsroom and the integrity of our news reports. In many instances, merely applying that purpose with common sense will point to the ethical course. Sometimes the answer is self-evident: simply wondering whether a course of action might damage the reputation of our journalism is often enough to gauge whether the action is appropriate.
10. Every staff member is expected to read these rules carefully and to think about how they might apply to his or her duties. A lack of familiarity with these provisions cannot excuse a violation; to the contrary, it aggravates the violation. The provisions presented here can offer only broad principles and some examples. No written document can anticipate every possibility. Thus we expect staff members to consult their managers if they have doubts about any particular situation or opportunity covered by this set of rules. Staff members shall not face disciplinary action in cases in which they have received permission from or been instructed to take an action by a newsroom manager.
11. The Globe believes beyond question that our staff shares the values these guidelines are intended to protect. Ordinarily, past differences of view over applying these values have been resolved amiably through discussion. The Globe has every reason to believe that such a practice will continue. Nevertheless, The Globe views any intentional violation of these rules as a serious offense that may lead to disciplinary action, potentially including dismissal, subject to the terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreement and/or applicable law.
11a. Staff members may ask for waivers or clarifications of the provisions of this Policy from the managing editor for administration or her designee. All waiver requests will be responded to in no more than five (5) business days.
12. This document 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 Globe reserves the right to propose modifications and expansions to the guidelines from time to time, as it deems appropriate. The Globe will notify the Union of any proposed changes in the Policy. Both parties will meet promptly to negotiate such changes before they are implemented.
13. The authority to interpret and apply these guidelines is vested in the editor and the editorial page editor. That duty may be delegated to their ranking assistants, but the senior news executives remain responsible for decisions made in their name. The Union shall have the right to contest these interpretations through meetings with editors, and, if necessary, through the contractual grievance process. Staff members shall have the right, without fear of retribution, to raise concerns about violations of this Policy.
13a. Everyone covered by this code will be required to read this code annually and sign a statement attesting that they understand its provisions and are abiding by them. New employees will be asked to sign a statement at the time they are hired. The Globe shall provide each staff member with a current copy of the Policy electronically or in hard copy each time a staff member is required to sign the Policy.
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Other Standards of Behavior
14. This document embodies basic standards of journalistic conduct applicable across The New York Times Company. Indeed, most of the guidelines in this Globe policy are drawn from The New York Times Company Journalism Ethics Policy, a document that was drafted with input from The Globe and other newspaper subsidiaries of the New York Times Company. The Globe guidelines include additional specific provisions that Globe management deems appropriate to govern ethical behavior at The Globe. In addition, Globe staff members are bound by the provisions of the Editor's June 24, 2003 Memorandum on Ethics and Accuracy.
15. As employees of the Boston Globe, we observe the Rules of the Road, which are the axiomatic standards of behavior governing our dealing with colleagues and going about our work. We also observe the company's policies against harassment and on the use of computers and digital communications.
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A. On the Job
A1. Our Duty to Our Audience
16. As journalists we treat our readers as fairly and openly as possible. We tell our audience the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it. We correct our errors explicitly as soon as we become aware of them. We do not wait for someone to request a correction. We publish corrections in a prominent and consistent location.
17. We treat audience members no less fairly in private than in public. Anyone who deals with our public is expected to honor that principle, knowing that ultimately our readers are our employers. Civility applies whether an exchange takes place in person, by telephone, by letter or by e-mail.
18. We gather information for the benefit of our audience. Journalists at The Globe may not use their position to make inquiries for any other purpose.
19. Staff members or outside contributors who plagiarize betray our fundamental pact with our public. So does anyone who knowingly or recklessly provides false information or doctored images for publication. We will not tolerate such behavior. Actions of this sort so grievously undermine our credibility that any staff member who becomes aware of such an occurrence is urged to report it to his or her department head.
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A2. How We Gather the News
20. We treat news sources fairly and professionally. We do not inquire pointlessly into someone's personal life. We do not threaten to damage uncooperative sources, nor do we promise favorable coverage in return for cooperation. We do not pay for interviews or unpublished documents: to do so would create an incentive for sources to falsify material, and would cast into doubt the genuineness of much that we publish.
21. Staff members and others on assignment for us should disclose their identity to people they cover, though they need not always announce their occupation when seeking information normally available to the public. Those working for us as journalists may not pose as anyone they are not — for example, police officers or lawyers. An exception to this requirement can be made only in extraordinary circumstances, for example when a reporter on a foreign assignment would otherwise be placed in danger.
22. Critics and other writers who review performances or goods and services offered to the public may conceal their press identity, but they may not normally assert a false identity or affiliation. As an exception, restaurant critics may make reservations in false names to avoid special treatment. For that same reason, restaurant critics and travel writers should conceal their affiliation.
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Keeping Our Detachment
23. Relationships with sources require sound judgment and self-awareness 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 assigned to beats, must be aware that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance. Editors, who normally have a wide range of relationships, must be especially wary of showing partiality. Where friends and neighbors are also newsmakers, journalists must guard against giving them extra access or a more sympathetic ear. When practical, the best solution is to have someone else deal with them.
24. Though this topic defies firm rules, it is essential that we preserve professional detachment, free of any hint 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 editor who enjoys a weekly round of golf with a city council member, for example, risks creating an appearance of coziness. So does a reporter or editor who spends weekends in the company of people we cover. Scrupulous practice requires that periodically we step back and look at whether we have drifted too close to sources with whom we deal regularly. The test of freedom from favoritism is the ability to maintain good working relationships with all parties to any newsworthy dispute.
25. Romantic involvement with a news source would create the appearance and probably the reality of partiality. Staff members who develop close relationships with people who are likely to figure in coverage they prepare or oversee must disclose those relationships privately to a responsible newsroom manager. In some instances staff members may have to recuse themselves from certain coverage. Sometimes assignments may have to be modified or beats changed.
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Obeying the Law
26. Staff members and others on assignment 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 e-mail or voice-mail messages. They may not tap telephones, invade computer files or otherwise eavesdrop electronically on news sources.
27. Journalists who obtain press cards, press license plates, parking permits or other identification from police or other official agencies may use those credentials only to do their jobs. Those whose duties do not require special credentials must return them.
28. Staff members may not record private conversations without
the prior consent of all parties to the conversations. Unless advance permission has been granted by the managing editor for administration or her designee, this prohibition applies even in so-called "one party'' jurisdictions where recordings made secretly are legal. Except in limited circumstances, we do not use hidden cameras; any exceptions need advance approval from the managing editor for administration.Back to the Top »
Paying Our Own Way
29. When we as journalists entertain news sources (including government officials) or travel to cover them, The Globe pays the expenses. In some business situations and in foreign countries, it may be unavoidable to accept a meal or a drink paid for by a news source (for example, at an official's residence or in a company's private dining room). Whenever practical, however, we should avoid those circumstances and suggest dining where we can pay our share . Routine refreshments at an event like a news conference are acceptable, but a staff member should not attend recurring breakfast or lunch meetings unless The Globe pays for the journalist's meals. Whether the setting is an exclusive club or a service lodge's weekly luncheon, we should pay our way.
30. Staff members may not accept free or discounted transportation and lodging except where special circumstances leave us no alternative. Such special cases might include certain trips for which alternative arrangements would be impractical — for example, an interview aboard a corporate jet where there is no benefit other than the interview. With permission by a responsible newsroom manager, staff members may accept discounted rates generally available to other accredited journalists. Journalists should also consult responsible newsroom managers in advance when other special circumstances arise. In every case possible, The Globe should do all it can to reimburse for reasonable costs. For example, if a reporter must fly on a military aircraft or a corporate jet to do an interview – when the reporter would otherwise be taking a commercial flight - then the host party should be reimbursed at commercial airfare rates.
31. Staff members may accept press passes or free tickets when explicitly assigned to review artistic performances or cover athletic and similar events (for example, auto or flower shows). But no staff member except the assigned one — not even an editor in the arts, feature or sports department — may accept free tickets. An exception is allowed for attendance at press events by staff members who have a journalistic reason to be there as determined by their department head or his/her designee. Even when paying the box office price, no member of our staff, to include support personnel, may use her or his Globe affiliation to obtain scarce seats unless the performance or sporting event has a clear bearing on his or her job.Back to the Top »
Dealing With Competitors
32. We compete zealously but deal with competitors openly and honestly. We do not invent obstacles to hamstring their efforts. When we first use facts derived from original reporting by another news organization, we attribute them.
33. With the exception of press pool arrangements imposed by news sources, staff members may not join teams covering news events for other organizations (unless their work is part of a duly authorized joint venture), and they may not accept payment from competitors for news tips. They may not be listed on the masthead of any publication or Web site outside The Globe (except for a nonprofessional publication such as a religious congregation's newsletter, an alumni magazine or a club bulletin).Back to the Top »
A3. Protecting Our Neutrality
34. Staff members and those on assignment for us may not accept anything that could be construed as a payment for favorable coverage or for avoiding unfavorable coverage. They may not accept gifts, tickets, discounts, reimbursements or other benefits from individuals or organizations covered (or likely to be covered) by The Globe that exceed $25 in value. Any other gifts should be returned with a polite explanation; perishable gifts may instead be given to charity, also with a note to the donor. In either case the objective of the note is, in all politeness, to discourage future gifts.
35. Staff members and those on assignment for us may not accept employment or compensation of any sort from individuals or organizations who figure in coverage they are likely to provide, prepare or supervise. The editor of The Globe may authorize reasonable exceptions (for example, to let a teacher work part-time as a copy editor).
37. Staff members may normally accept those gifts or discounts available to the general public. And they are free to take advantage of conventional corporate discounts that our company shares with all employees, as well as such things as free museum admissions or other benefits that are offered to all employees as a result of Globe or Times charitable activities.
38. Unless the special terms are offered by The New York Times Company or its subsidiaries or affiliates, staff members may not buy stock in initial public offerings through "friends and family" plans where any plausible appearance of conflict of interest exists. Staff members may not accept allocations from brokerage firms.Back to the Top »
Steering Clear of Advice Roles
39. It is an inherent conflict for a journalist to perform public relations work, paid or unpaid. Staff members may not counsel individuals or organizations on how to deal successfully with the news media. They may not, for example, advise candidates for public office, write or edit annual reports, or contribute to the programs of sports teams.
40. They may, of course, explain the newsroom's normal workings and steer outsiders to the appropriate editor or reporter. They may offer basic advice to community or neighborhood institutions such as their child's school, a small museum, a local charity or their house of worship.
41. They should not take part in public relations workshops that charge admission or imply privileged access to the press, or participate in surveys asking their opinion of an organization's media relations or public image. But on occasion they may describe our procedures to public relations groups with the goal of improving the flow of pertinent information.
42. Staff members may not serve as ghostwriters or co-authors for individuals or groups whose coverage they have provided or overseen, or are likely to provide or oversee. They may not undertake such assignments for organizations that espouse a cause.
43. Staff members may not engage in financial counseling (except through the articles they write). They may not manage money for others, offer investment advice, or help operate an investment company of any sort, with or without pay. They may, however, help family members with ordinary financial planning and serve as executors or administrators of estates of relatives and friends and as court-appointed conservators and guardians.Back to the Top »
Entering Competitions and Contests
44. Staff members may not enter local, national or international competitions sponsored by individuals or groups who have a direct interest in the tenor of our coverage. They may not act as judges for these competitions or accept their awards. Common examples are contests sponsored by commercial, political, advocacy or professional associations to judge coverage of their own affairs. The editor and the editorial page editor may make exceptions for competitions underwritten by corporate sponsors if those are broad in scope and independently judged by journalists.
45. Staff members may compete in competitions sponsored by groups whose members are all journalists or whose members demonstrably have no direct interest in the tenor of coverage of the field being judged. For example, a staff member may enter a university-sponsored competition for coverage of foreign affairs. Staff members may act as judges for such competitions and accept their awards. Being a member of a committee that presents awards should be cleared through the managing editor for administration or her designee.
46. The Globe will maintain a current list of competitions it has approved. The Globe will provide a copy of that list with the implementation of this Policy. Staff members who would like to enter others should consult the responsible news executive. Staff members who win unsought awards from groups that do not meet the criteria established here should decline, politely explaining our policy
47. Normally staff members are free to accept honorary degrees, medals and other awards from colleges, universities and other educational institutions. Those who cover higher education or supervise that coverage should be sensitive to any appearance of coziness or favoritism. Those in any doubt should consult their newsroom management before accepting such an award. No such honor may be accepted without prior approval of the managing editor for administration if the proposed recipient is involved in the coverage of the organization making the award, or when the award is offered by a specialized institution to a staff member who covers that specialized area, whether it be medicine, science, business, music or art.Back to the Top »
Barring Collaboration and Testimonials
48. Staff members and others on assignment for us may not collaborate in ventures with individuals or organizations that have figured or are expected to figure in their coverage. Among other things, this prohibition applies to writing books, pamphlets, reports, scripts, scores or any other material and to making photographs or creating artwork of any sort.
49. Staff members may not offer endorsements or testimonials for books, films, television programs or any other programs, products or ventures. They may not accept endorsements or testimonials from anyone who is expected to figure in their coverage. Newsroom management may authorize rare exceptions.
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A4. Cautions on Public Speaking
50. Speaking before community audiences or educational groups can benefit The Globe by helping the public understand what we do. But before appearing before an outside group, we must be sure we are not likely to create an actual or apparent conflict of interest or undermine public trust in the impartiality of our journalism.
51. Staff members should be sensitive to the appearance of partiality when they address groups that might figure in their coverage, especially if the setting might suggest a close relationship to the sponsoring group. Before accepting such an invitation, a staff member must consult with newsroom management. At the discretion of the editorial page editor or the managing editor for administration, editorial writers and opinion columnists may speak to advocacy groups.
52. To avoid an appearance of undue closeness, staff members may not accept invitations to speak before a single company (for example, at a corporate executive retreat) or an industry assembly (such as organized baseball's winter meeting) unless newsroom management agrees that the appearance is useful and does not undermine our reputation for impartiality. In such a case, The Globe should pay any expenses; no speaker's fee should be accepted.
53. Staff members should not accept invitations to speak where their function is to attract customers to an event primarily intended as profit-making, such as a fundraiser run by a business association. Under no circumstances are staff members allowed to be listed as sponsors for fundraising events, even for non-profits. However, with permission from the managing editor for administration or the editorial page editor, opinion columnists and editorial writers may accept invitations to speak where their function is to attract people to an event intended to raise funds for a non-profit.Back to the Top »
Restricting Speaker's Fees
54. Staff members who deliver speeches may accept fees, honorariums, expense reimbursement and transportation, but only from educational and journalism organizations, and then only in cases where there is no conflict of interest. We do not accept any such payments from other organizations. Advance permission is required before accepting any speaking fee that exceeds $2,500. And all speaking engagements, paid or unpaid, must be approved in advance by the managing editor for administration or the editor of the editorial page.
55. Any staff member who accepts fees, honorariums or expenses for speaking engagements must file an annual accounting with the managing editor for administration or with the editor of the editorial page if those annual fees exceed $5,000.
56. A staff member who writes a book and wishes to promote it on personal time must make every effort to ensure that public appearances conform to the spirit of these guidelines and do not interfere with normal job responsibilities. If the staff member has doubts about an appearance, he or she must consult with the managing editor for administration or the editorial page editor. Routine expenses and fees may be accepted for such promotional appearances. Speeches and other outside activities by staff members, paid or unpaid, should not imply that they carry the endorsement of The Globe. On each such occasion, the staff member should gracefully remind the audience that the views expressed are his or her own. Outside commitments should not interfere with the speaker's normal responsibilities. Thus no staff member should set an extensive speaking schedule without approval from newsroom management.Back to the Top »
A5. Rules for Specialized Departments
57. Members of The Globe sports staff may not gamble on any sports event they are covering.
58. Except for properly issued press passes for event coverage, members of the sports staff may not accept tickets, travel expenses, meals, gifts or any other benefit from teams or promoters.
59. Sports reporters assigned to cover games may not serve as scorers.Back to the Top »
Entertainment and the Arts
60. Staff members covering entertainment and the arts have a special duty to guard against conflicts of interest, real or apparent. Arts coverage, whether national or local, can often make or break reputations and commercial success. In theater, movies, music, art, dance, publishing, fashion and restaurants, critics and reviewers have an obligation to exert our newsroom's influence ethically and prudently.
61. Except in their published writing, reporters, reviewers, critics and their editors in the arts may not help others to develop, market or promote artistic, literary or other creative ventures. They may not introduce artists to agents, publishers, producers or galleries; chefs to restaurant owners; or designers to clothing manufacturers. They should refrain from unpublished commentary, even informal, on works in progress. They may not offer ideas or proposals to people who figure in their coverage or make investments in productions in their field. (Food writers and editors may not invest in restaurants.) Except if approved in advance by the managing editor for administration or her designee, they may not serve on advisory boards, awards juries or other panels organized by people who figure in coverage they provide, prepare or supervise. They may not accept awards from such panels. The managing editor for administration will reply to requests for exceptions within five (5) business days.
62. An arts writer or editor who owns a work of exhibition quality (and thus has a financial stake in the artist's reputation) may arouse questions about the impartiality of critical judgments or editing decisions. Critics and assigning editors should recuse themselves from writing or editing stories about artists whose work they own. Members of the living/arts staff who collect valuable art objects (paintings, photographs, sculpture, crafts and the like) must annually submit a list of their acquisitions and sales to newsroom management.
63. The Globe recognizes that its staff includes talented members who may write books, music and plays; create sculpture and paintings; and give recitals. It also recognizes that a writer requires a publisher, a playwright a production company, an artist a gallery. Such relationships, however, can give rise to the fact or perception of favoritism. Staff members who enter into such arrangements must disclose them to newsroom management, and when appropriate the staff members may be disqualified from covering those with whom they have dealings.Back to the Top »
64. No staff member who prepares a travel article — whether on assignment or freelance, and whether for us or for others — may accept free or discounted services or preferential treatment from any element of the travel industry. This rule covers hotels, resorts, restaurants, tour operators, airlines, railways, cruise lines, rental car companies and tourist attractions. This prohibition does not rule out routinely awarded frequent-flier points.
65. Editors who accept travel articles from non-staff contributors have an obligation to guard against real or perceived conflicts of interest. They should exercise care in assigning or editing freelancers who have accepted free services while working for other news organizations; such a reputation can embarrass us. We do not give travel assignments to anyone who represents travel suppliers or who works for a government tourist office or as a publicist of any sort. A newsroom manager may make rare exceptions for special purposes — for example, to assign a writer widely recognized as an expert in a particular culture. In such a case, the journalist's connections must be disclosed in the published coverage.
66. Writers of travel articles must conceal their identity as journalists when making reservations and during as much of the reporting process as possible, so that they will experience the same conditions as an ordinary consumer. The writer may disclose the affiliation in the course of interviewing guests or others before leaving a destination in order to gather material for a story. The writer should not ask for or accept special treatment, before or after the affiliation is disclosed.
67. No journalist may report for us about any travel service or product offered by a family member or close friend.Back to the Top »
A6. Obligations to the Boston Globe
68. The good name of The Globe does not belong to any of us. No one has a right to exploit it for private purposes.
69. Staff members may not use their company identification cards for purposes not connected with their work. ID cards may not be used to obtain special treatment or advantage from governmental, commercial or other organizations.
70. Staff members may not use Globe stationery – to include email stationery, except for limited personal use as otherwise permitted by the NYTCo. Electronic Communications Policy - business cards, forms or other materials for any purpose except official business. Back to the Top »
Speaking for The Globe
71. Staff members must not disclose confidential information about the operations, policies or plans of The Globe. "Confidential information" includes, without limitation, all non-public information that could reasonably be expected to be harmful to The Globe if disclosed or of use to competitors.
72. Senior news executives may authorize other staff members to comment publicly on policies or plans within the staff members' own areas of responsibility and expertise. If staff members are approached by outsiders or other media to discuss editorial content or policy more widely, The Globe policy is that the caller be referred to senior editors or to The Globe corporate spokesperson. Similarly, any inquiry addressed to a journalist about the company's advertising or other business activities should be referred to the company spokesperson.
73. Staff members are free to discuss their own activities in public, provided their comments do not create an impression that they lack journalistic impartiality or speak for The Globe.
74. Any staff member may respond openly and honestly to a reasonable inquiry from a reader about the staff member's work. If a substantive error is called to the writer's attention, her or his editor must be notified, whether or not a correction is requested.
74a. If a reader asks for a correction, that request must be passed promptly to a supervisor. If the request threatens legal action or appears to be from a lawyer, the complaint should be promptly referred to the managing editor for administration.Back to the Top »
Returning Borrowed Equipment
75. Staff members who borrow equipment, vehicles or other goods for evaluation or review must return them as soon as possible. Similarly, items borrowed to be photographed, such as fashion apparel or home furnishings, should be returned promptly.
76. Automobile reviewers should carry out their testing expeditiously and return the vehicle promptly. A reasonable amount of personal use is permissible if that use contributes to the review.
77. Staff members may keep for their own collections — but may not sell or copy — books, recordings, tapes, compact discs and computer programs sent to them for review. Such submissions are considered press releases. But no one may request extra copies of review materials. Staff members may not keep any review item that has a value of $50 or more. In such cases, the item should be donated to Globe Santa for auction. In addition, staff members who continue to receive review material even though they do not review such products should return those review items or donated to Globe Santa or other such charity for auction and make reasonable efforts to have their names removed from distribution lists. Furthermore, recorded or digital media, such as tapes or disks, must be destroyed or returned to the provider if not retained by the reviewer. Those items may not be given away or left where they could be carried off for illicit copying.
78. Photographers, camera operators, picture editors, film editors, art directors, lab personnel and technology editors and reporters may not accept gifts of equipment, programs or materials from manufacturers or vendors. They may not endorse equipment, programs or materials, or offer advice on product design. (This guideline is not meant to restrict our technical staff from working with vendors to improve our systems or equipment.)Back to the Top »
A7. Advertisers and the Business Side
80. The Globe treats advertisers as fairly and openly as we treat our readers and news sources. The relationship between The Globe and its advertisers rests on the understanding that news and advertising are separate — that those who deal with either one have distinct obligations and interests, and each group respects the other's professional responsibilities.
81. Journalists are understandably interested in the financial situation of their workplace but should maintain their independence by avoiding discussions of advertising needs, goals and problems except where those are directly related to the business of the newsroom. The news and advertising departments may properly confer on the layout and configuration of a newspaper (though not on specific content) or the timing of special sections, and on the timing and placement of commercials or Web advertising. The departments may also work together in designing new print, broadcast or Web offerings to make sure that the result is viable both journalistically and economically. However, journalists may not offer the advertising department, advertisers, or sponsors of features in the newspaper and on the company's websites the ability to edit or pre-approve stories. As The Globe explores new products and new platforms for disseminating news, any employee with concerns or questions about journalism ethics of new ventures or ongoing enterprises is encouraged to raise those concerns with the managing editor for administration.
82. Advertising and "advertorials" (paid text or paid broadcast content) must not resemble news content. All advertorials should be prepared and produced by the business departments, outside the newsroom.
83. When authorized by top newsroom management, members of the news staff may take part in interdepartmental committees on problems that affect several departments, including news. As far as possible, the news representatives should leave advertising issues to colleagues from the business side.
84. From time to time, when authorized by top news executives, journalists may take part in events organized by the company for marketing or promotion or financial presentations. But they should confine their role to discussion of our journalism and avoid the appearance or reality of making a sales presentation.
85. No one in our news departments below the level of department head or designee may exchange information with the advertising department or with advertisers about the timing or content of advertising, the timing or content of news coverage or the assignment of staff or freelance reporters.Back to the Top »
B. On Our Own Time
B1. Participation in Public Life
86. Globe staff members are family members and responsible citizens as well as journalists. Nothing in this policy is intended to abridge their right to live normal lives — to educate their children, to worship and to take part in community affairs. But like other dedicated professionals, we knowingly accept some restrictions - in our case, with the goal of ethical and impartial journalism.
87. As noted in Paragraph 6, some of these requirements apply to all newsroom and editorial page employees, journalists and support staff alike. No newsroom or editorial employee may do anything that damages our reputation for strict neutrality in reporting on politics and government. In particular, no one may wear campaign buttons or display any other sign of political partisanship at any time. For all other purposes, "staff members" in this section refers only to those who prepare or accept news content, as defined in Paragraph 5.
87a. While the provisions of this document apply principally to journalists and some apply more widely to the newsroom staff (as explained in Paragraphs 5, 6 and 7), The Globe recognizes that the activities of the publisher and some other Globe corporate officials — those senior executives to whom news and editorial department heads directly report — can also affect the appearance and reality of neutrality in reporting on politics and government. For that reason, Paragraphs 88 through 94 below will apply additionally to those executives.Back to the Top »
Voting, Campaigns and Public Issues
88. Journalists do not take part in politics. While staff members are entitled to register as members of political parties and to vote, they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of our news operations. In particular, they may not campaign for, demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts to enact legislation. They may not wear campaign buttons or themselves display any other insignia of partisan politics, on or off the job.
89. Staff members may not themselves give money to any political candidate or election cause or raise money for one. Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributions, any political giving by a staff member would risk feeding a false impression that we are taking sides.
90. No staff member may seek public office anywhere. Seeking or serving in public office violates the professional detachment expected of a journalist. Active participation by one of our staff can sow a suspicion of favoritism in political coverage. In the rare instance where such risks are demonstrably non-existent, a staff member may seek an exception to this rule from the managing editor for administration.
91. Neighbors and other outsiders commonly see us as representatives of our institution. Staff members may not march or rally in support of political causes or movements or public policy issues that are or are likely to be in the news. Also, they may not sign advertisements or petitions taking a position on such issues. They may not lend their names to campaigns, benefit dinners or similar events if doing so might reasonably raise doubts about their ability or The Globe's ability to remain neutral in covering the news. Requests for any exceptions to this provision must be made to the managing editor for administration or her designee.
92. Staff members may appear from time to time on local or national radio and television programs devoted to public affairs, but they should avoid expressing views that go beyond the news and analysis that could properly appear under their regular bylines. Columnists and editorial writers enjoy more leeway than others in speaking publicly, because their business is expressing opinions. They should nevertheless choose carefully the forums in which they appear and protect the impartiality of our journalism.
93. A staff member with doubts about a proposed political activity should consult a responsible manager. These guidelines protect the heart of our mission as journalists. Where the conflict with our impartiality seems minimal, top news executives may consider matters case by case, but they should be cautious before permitting an exception.Back to the Top »
Serving the Community
94. The Globe respects community citizenship. Staff members may join local or neighborhood organizations that are unlikely to generate news of broader interest and those that do not generally seek to shape public policy. These typically include houses of worship, community charities, civic clubs, local libraries, fine arts groups, hobby groups, youth athletic leagues, country clubs and alumni groups. But news is unpredictable. Even neighborhood institutions sometimes find themselves in the spotlight. In that event, a staff member with ties to the institution must stand aside from any controversy and not take part in the coverage. In no case may a staff member's affiliation with our company be used to further the goals of such a nonprofit or volunteer organization.
95. Journalists should stand apart from institutions that make news. Staff members may not serve on government boards or commissions, paid or unpaid. They may not join boards of trustees, advisory committees or similar groups except those described in paragraph 94 above or those serving journalistic organizations or otherwise promoting journalism education. Depending on circumstances, senior editors may permit staff members to serve on a board of trustees or visitors for a school, college or university, especially one with a family connection.
96. Staff members may not solicit funds for social, political, religious or other philanthropic causes. Soliciting can create an expectation of a favor in return. Within reason staff members may help the groups described in Paragraph 94 with relatively modest fund-raising. They should never solicit anyone with whom they or their newsroom has professional dealings or invoke the name of The Globe.Back to the Top »
B2. Avoiding Conflicts Over Family
97. In a day when most families balance two careers, the legitimate activities of household members and other relatives can sometimes create journalistic conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts. These can arise in civic or political life, professional work and financial activity. A spouse's or companion's campaign for public office would obviously create the appearance of conflict for a political reporter involved in election coverage. For example, a brother or a daughter in a high-profile job at a major corporation in Massachusetts might produce the appearance of conflict for a business reporter or editor.
98. Nothing in this document prohibits a spouse, companion or other relative of a staff member from taking part in any political, financial, commercial, religious or civic activity. Where restrictions are necessary, they fall on the company employee alone. But any attempt to conceal a staff member's activity by using a relative's name (or any other alias) would constitute a violation.
99. Staff members must be sensitive that direct political activity by their spouses, family or household members, such as running for office or managing a campaign — even while proper — may well create conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts. Even limited participation, like giving money or ringing doorbells, may stir suspicions of political bias if it becomes conspicuous. Staff members and their families should be wary of ambiguity. A bumper sticker on the family car or a campaign sign on the lawn may be misread as the journalist's, no matter who in the household actually placed it. Staff members should ensure that when a spouse or companion makes a campaign contribution, it is not done through a check on a joint account.
100. To avoid conflicts, staff members may not furnish, prepare or supervise news content about relatives, spouses or others with whom they have close personal relationships. When it comes to obituaries involving relatives or friends, staff members may furnish information, but may not be otherwise involved in the preparation or placement of obituaries. For the same reasons, staff members should not recruit or directly supervise family members or close friends. Some exceptions are permissible — in a bureau, for instance, where a married couple form a team, or in a small news department, with the approval of top newsroom management.
101. The Globe depends on staff members to disclose potential problems in a timely fashion, with an eye to working together to head off embarrassment to all concerned. Any staff member who sees a potential for a conflict of interest in the activities of spouse, relatives or friends must discuss the situation with the managing editor for administration or the editorial page editor. In many or even most cases, disclosure will suffice. But if senior editors consider the problem serious, the staff member may have to withdraw from certain coverage. Sometimes an assignment may have to be modified or a beat changed.Back to the Top »
B3. Protections Against Financial Conflicts
102. Every employee of The Globe must be vigilant against any appearance of abusing nonpublic information for financial gain. That requirement applies to all departments.
103. No staff member may own stock or have any other financial interest, including a board membership, in a company, enterprise or industry about which she or he regularly furnishes, prepares or supervises coverage. This restriction extends beyond the business beat. A book editor may not invest in a publishing house, a health writer in a pharmaceutical company or a Pentagon reporter in a mutual fund specializing in defense stocks. "Stock," as used here, means not just individual issues but also futures, options, rights, and speculative debt, as well as "sector" mutual funds (those focused on one industry).
104. For any major company or industry in The Globe readership area, no news staff member likely to directly influence coverage of that business may own its shares, or those of its direct competitors. This proscription applies to top newsroom managers who are broadly responsible for coverage (including the editorial-page editor). The editor and the editorial page editor should decide to which staff members this restriction properly applies.
105. Staff members may not buy or sell securities or make other investments in anticipation of coming news coverage. Before trading, they must wait until after the news is publicly and generally disseminated, to give the public time to absorb the news. This restriction does not apply to spot news reports that first appear on news agency wires or originate outside our organization.Back to the Top »
106. Staff members will be asked, when hired, to affirm that they have no investments that would violate Paragraph 103 with respect to their proposed assignments. If a new staff member is unable to give that assurance, she or he must either dispose of the conflicting investment or accept an assignment where no such conflict exists. Similarly staff members should be asked, when hired, to affirm that to the best of their knowledge no household member or close relative has financial holdings that might reasonably raise doubts about the staff member's impartiality in a proposed assignment. Here, too, the answer could require recusal or an alternative assignment.
107. From time to time, management may ask staff members in any news or editorial department to affirm that they have no investments in violation of Paragraph 103. Such a request might be expected, for example, when a staff member is about to begin a new assignment or work on a particularly sensitive article. Similarly the journalist may be asked to affirm that to the best of his or her knowledge no household member or close relative has financial holdings that might reasonably raise doubts about the journalist's impartiality. If such conditions arise, the staff member must alert newsroom management.
108. If a staff member is assigned to provide or prepare coverage outside his or her own beat, about a company or industry in which she or he owns stock, the journalist must discuss the investment with the assigning editor or producer before beginning the work. Similarly, editors assigned to extensive news coverage about companies or industries in which they have investments must advise their supervisors of potential conflicts before proceeding. In many instances it will be permissible for the work to go on, but a journalist who works on such an assignment must wait a reasonable period after publication before buying or selling stock in the company or industry.Back to the Top »
Avoiding Market Conflicts
109. Journalists who regularly cover business and financial news may not play the market: That is, they may not conduct in-and-out trading, speculate in options or futures or sell securities short. Any of these actions could create an appearance of exploiting information not available to the public. Staff members who regularly cover business aspects of technology or other subjects are also subject to this rule.
110. The Globe must give the public complete confidence that editors' choices are not biased by their personal finances. Depending on the editors' duties and on the volume, visibility and influence of business coverage, this assurance can be accomplished through periodic recusal, disclosure or an outright ban on owning stocks. Editors who regularly assign or supervise business or financial coverage would be well advised to avoid owning stocks in individual companies or sectors.
111. To avoid an appearance of conflict, the editor, editorial page editor and others they may designate must affirm annually to The Globe's publisher or his designee that they have no financial holdings in violation of this set of rules. This requirement applies to editorial-page editors as well.
112. A staff member who owns stock and moves into an assignment where such holdings are not permitted must sell the stock. If such a case arises, a reasonable transition plan will be worked out. The company will make a reasonable effort to prevent a financial loss for the employee resulting from an involuntary job transfer, including consideration of a request for recusal or an alternative assignment. Grievances arising under this provision will be subject to resolution through the "facilitated grievance process" described on p. 112 of the parties' 2001-2005 collective bargaining agreement.
113. Whenever these rules require the sale of stock holdings, a staff member can satisfy the requirement by putting the holdings into a blind trust or the equivalent.
114. Though this document imposes some necessary limits on freedom to invest, it leaves a broad range of personal finance opportunities open to our journalists. Any staff member is free to own diversified mutual funds, money market funds and other diversified investments outside the staff member's day-to-day control. Any member may also own treasury bills, investment-grade municipal bonds, debt securities other than speculative bonds, and securities issued by The New York Times Company. And rank-and-file staff members are free to own stocks
unrelated to their assignment.
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B4. Freelance Writing and Broadcast Appearance
115. Staff members are free to engage in paid or unpaid activities outside of working hours that: neither detract from nor interfere with the employee's Globe duties; nor impair the credibility or integrity of The Globe; nor are detrimental to The Globe's competitive position. Any staff member contemplating an outside activity must inform the managing editor for administration in advance. The Globe reserves the right to object to an activity based on the foregoing standards but will not exercise this right in an unreasonable manner.
116. With approval of senior newsroom managers, staff members may accept freelance assignments that do not directly compete with our own offerings. Normally, work for competitors will not be permitted. In rare instances, permission may be granted when supervisory editors
are not interested in the article or project offered by a staff member. The Globe will respond to such requests in within five (5) business days. Staff members are encouraged to offer their freelance work to The Globe before trying to place it elsewhere.
117. Also with approval, staff members may participate in radio, television or online interviews or discussions, local or national, that deal with articles they have written or subjects that figure in coverage they provide, prepare or supervise. Such occasional appearances must not imply that the journalist speaks for The Globe (unless that is officially the case). Staff members should ensure that the use of their names and their Globe affiliation, in materials promoting the appearances, is consistent with the newspaper's impartiality.
118. The managing editor for administration, in consultation with the appropriate Globe business managers, will maintain a list of the present and likely competitors in this journalistic arena. The list will be posted in the newsroom and available on-line and through the managing editor/administration. These might include any newspaper, magazine, television venture, online service or other medium, regardless of form, that has a similar editorial focus, either for a general audience or with particular segments of ours. If the competitive status of a freelance outlet is unclear, the staff member should consult with the managing editor for administration or the editorial page editor.
119. Staff members may not appear on broadcasts that compete directly with our company's own offerings on television or online. Otherwise they may make occasional broadcast or online appearances as outlined elsewhere in this document. But they must seek management's approval before accepting full-fledged assignments for reporting, anchoring, editing or production from any outside broadcast venture, even one that sells programming to us, buys it from us or makes it in partnership with us.Back to the Top »
Governing Freelance Work
120. Staff members must ensure that their freelance work does not interfere with their normal responsibilities and that it is consistent with the policies and guidelines of this document.
121. Generally a staff member should not say anything in interviews or discussions on the air or online that goes beyond the news and analysis that could properly appear in the news columns of The Globe. In a radio, television, telephonic or online appearance, or any other public forum, Globe staff members should avoid strident tone and discussion of personal opinion unless they are opinion columnists. Our contributions should be marked by thoughtful and retrospective analysis.
122. Staff members who accept freelance assignments or make broadcast or online appearances may not accept compensation, expenses, discounts, gifts or other inducements from a news source. A staff member should place nothing outside of The Globe that implies sponsorship or endorsement by The Globe.
123. Frequency matters. Freelance work, whether in print or in electronic media, can create a conflict of interest if it is pursued with such regularity that it interferes with normal assignments or compromises the integrity or independence of The Globe news report. Freelancing can also create a conflict if it identifies a staff member as closely with another publication, program or Web site as with his or her regular job. Writing under a pseudonym does not alter the obligation to comply with this provision.
124. A regular contribution to an outside enterprise may be permissible if it does not flow from the journalist's regular responsibilities or interfere with them, and if it does not involve content owed to The Globe. Examples of acceptable affiliations might be a city editor who writes a monthly column on golf or a news photographer who has a modest studio business. Staff members considering such continuing ventures should confer with the managing editor for administration or the editorial page editor.Back to the Top »
B5. Web Pages and Web Logs
125. Web pages and Web logs (the online personal journals known as blogs) present imaginative opportunities for personal expression and exciting new journalism. When created by our staff or published on The Globe web site, they also require cautions, magnified by the Web's unlimited reach.
126. Personal journals that appear on our official Web site are subject to the newsroom's standards of fairness, taste and legal propriety. Nothing may be published under The Globe's name unless it has gone through an editing or moderating process or has been authorized in advance to be posted on-line by the department head or his/her designee.
127. If a staff member self -publishes a Web page or blog on a site outside The Globe's control, the staff member has a duty to make sure that the content is personal. Staff members who self- publish blogs should generally avoid topics they cover professionally; failure to do so would invite a confusion of roles. No self-published Web activity should imply the participation or endorsement of The Globe. No one may post text, audio or video created for The Globe without obtaining appropriate permission.
128. Given the ease of Web searching, even a self-published journal by a staff member is likely to become associated in the audience's mind with The Globe's reputation. Thus blogs and Web pages created outside our facilities are subject to paragraph 115. They may incorporate reflections on journalism, but they should not divulge private or confidential information obtained through their inside access to our newsroom or our Company.
129. Bloggers may write lively commentary on their preferences in food, music, sports or other avocations, but as journalists they must avoid taking stands on divisive public issues. A staff member's Web page that was outspoken on the abortion issue would violate our policy in exactly the same way as participation in a march or rally on the subject. A blog that takes a political stand is as far out of bounds as a letter to the editor supporting or opposing a candidate. The definition of a divisive public issue will vary from one community to another; in case of doubt, staff members should consult the managing editor for administration or the editorial page editor.
130. A staff member's self-published Web page or blog must be independently produced. It should be free of advertising or sponsorship support from individuals or organizations whose coverage the staff member is likely to provide, prepare or supervise during working hours. Care should be taken in linking to any subject matter that would be off limits on the Web page itself.Back to the Top »
B6. Books, and Rights to Our Materials
131. Any Globe staff member intending to write a nonfiction book based on material that derives from his or her assignment or beat must notify the managing editor for administration or the editorial page editor in advance. If the plan is to reproduce content created for The Globe, the newspaper owns that material outright. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without the prior written permission of The Globe. And it cannot be rewritten, updated or otherwise altered and then republished without the company's prior written permission. If a staff member is approached by someone seeking rights to such Globe material, the inquiry must be forwarded promptly the managing editor for administration or the editorial page editor.
132. Staff members who plan outside writing or other outside creative work must never permit an impression that they might benefit financially from the outcome of news events. Thus a staff member may not negotiate about rights to an article or story idea before the article has appeared. Staff members involved in covering a running story may not negotiate over creative works of any sort based on that coverage until the news has played out.
133. At no time may a staff member turn over notes, interviews, documents, outtakes or other working materials to any third party, including agents, producers, studios or outside production agencies, or share those materials with them unless legally compelled to do so. In case of such a request, Globe counsel will provide assistance (consistent with collective bargaining agreements). As a matter of policy, The Globe will not give commercial producers or publishers access to working materials any more than it would turn them over to government prosecutors for use in court.
134. Staff members offered consulting agreements in television or film by agents, producers, studios or others must consult a responsible newsroom manager before accepting. The newsroom manager will respond to such requests in no more than five (5) business days. In cases of urgency The Globe will make every effort to respond promptly. No staff member may serve as a consultant to a film or program that he or she knows in advance is tendentious or clearly distorts the underlying facts. In no case should a consulting role be described in a way that invokes The Globe, or implies our endorsement or participation.Back to the Top »
C. Outside Contributors
135. Our audience applies exacting standards to all of our journalism. It does not normally distinguish between the work of staff members and that of outside freelancers. Thus as far as possible, freelance contributors to The Globe, while not its employees, should accept the same ethical standards as staff members as a condition of their assignments for us. If they violate these standards, they should be denied further assignments.
136. Before being given an assignment, freelance contributors must sign a contract with The Globe. Such a contract obliges them to take care to avoid conflicts of interests or the appearance of conflict. Specifically, in connection with their work for us, freelancers will not accept free transportation, free lodging, gifts, junkets, commissions or assignments from current or potential news sources. Freelancers must also disclose the identity of any other employers, both full-time and part-time, and any other actual or potential conflicts of interest, before we retain their services - and make an annual disclosure thereafter.
137. Assigning editors and producers who deal with nonstaff contributors should be aware that a freelancer's previous involvements and professional behavior can prove an embarrassment. They should make every effort to insure that a freelancer has no history or ties that would raise a real or apparent conflict of interest on a particular assignment.
138. With the exception of the editorial page, The Globe will not commission freelance pieces by public relations representatives about issues in the field of their specialty. As an example, the Health & Science section may not use freelance material from someone who is employed in a public relations position in the field. Moreover, editors should be mindful of the perception of conflict that readers may perceive when someone employed by a hospital or a financial institution writes for The Globe. In such cases, the freelance writer may not write about his or her own institution, excepting instances that are clearly justifiable; e.g., the pediatrician who writes about his cases at Children's Hospital. In approved cases, the outside affiliation will be made clear within the article or as a tagline.
139. The concise provisions of our freelance contracts cannot cover every circumstance that might arise. Assigning editors and producers should ensure that contributors are aware of this set of rules and to the greatest extent possible honor its provisions while on assignment for us. Any disagreement over whether a specific provision applies to outside contributors should be resolved before the assignment proceeds.
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