USA – Hearst Newspapers: Statement of Professional Principles (2002)

Statement of Professional Principles of Hearst Newspapers, published 20 May 2002.

Statement of Professional Principles
It is our singular mission to be the most trusted, most respected and most accurate source of news and information in the Hearst Newspapers communities that we serve.

We place our readers’ interests above all others, and dedicate ourselves to the principles of truthfulness, fairness and independence. We understand that the free flow of accurate information is vital to our system of government and the foundations of our economy.

It is not to introduce new standards but in fact to reinforce the principles on which this company and these newspapers were founded that we set forth the following Statement of Professional Principles. While the primary form in which we serve our readers is through the pages of our editorial product, it is no less incumbent upon all of our employees, in every department, to hold themselves to the highest standard of ethical and legal principles both in the conduct of our business and in our participation in the communities in which we live and work.

The trust that our communities place in us is our most valuable asset. All of us are guardians of this trust, and to do so faithfully requires the avoiding even the perception of conflict of interest, and encouraging colleagues to act in a similar manner.

The deliberate introduction of false information into our newspapers will not be tolerated. Legitimate mistakes do occur, and when they do, we have the responsibility to correct those errors in a timely and complete fashion. While the editor, the managing editor and the reader representative have the final responsibility for corrections, reporters should not hesitate to bring errors in their own work to the attention of their supervisor.

Reporters, editors and other news professionals should in no way misrepresent their identity in order to gather information for a story. Likewise, fictional identities shall not be used in the newspapers and photographs shall not be materially altered unless clearly labeled as such.

In our news columns as well as in our reporting, we will treat people with dignity and respect. Recognizing that there are multiple points of view in most stories, we will make every effort to include all sides relevant to a story. We must make a particular effort to seek comment from those portrayed in a critical manner.

Information used in our newspapers that was gathered by another organization should be attributed or labeled as such. Plagiarism is never acceptable.

Conflict of interest
All employees should make a special effort to avoid both actual conflicts and the appearance of them. Thus, with the exception of nominal courtesies and traditional practices such as business meals, we should accept no gifts, trips or other things of significant value from those we cover.

Just as with those we cover, no employee shall accept any gift or other significant value from any customer or supplier to the newspaper, with the exception of the aforementioned courtesies and traditional practices, such as business meals.

No employee should serve as an officer or director of another company unless he or she has the explicit approval of the newspaper’s publisher.

All books and records must be accurately and truthfully kept.

All written communications, including email, must be carefully written, keeping in mind that they may have to be disclosed in litigation or will otherwise become public.

Hearst Newspapers seeks to maintain a safe and supportive workplace where employees are treated with respect, where diversity is valued and where decisions on employment and career advancement are based on equal opportunity. Employees are expected to support and uphold these principals.

Adherence to the Principles
Hearst Newspapers always has and will continue to expect employees to practice the above Statement of Principles. It is also important to understand that this Statement of Principles is not the sole guideline by which employees’ actions may be governed. Individual newspapers and departments within them may have additional principles that employees will be expected to follow.

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