- The Context
- State of the State
At PA Post, we want to make it easier for you to understand how we operate, how our editorial decision-making works and how we approach fundraising as a public media organization. Below, you’ll find details on what we expect from our journalists throughout the editorial process:
Journalism that is accurate and honest
We report facts with accuracy and integrity.
We aim to foster an informed and engaged public that, in turn, enables a strong and effective democracy; and to support individuals in making good decisions for themselves and their families and in their pursuit of a high quality of life.
We take responsibility for the content we present. We operate within a system of defined professional principles, ethics and best practices in gathering data and perspectives. We are transparent about editorial decision-making processes.
Key principles that guide our reporting and editing:
We make every effort to ensure that we are accurate. We use consistent standards and approaches in verifying the facts we present and the sources of information we use. When we make a mistake, we will correct it.
We attribute the sources of our information. We consider granting anonymity only if we are without other means to gather compelling, verifiable information.
Context and impartiality
We place the facts we report in context. In our coverage of politics and controversial topics, we emphasize not only accuracy and full attribution, but also an impartial, non-partisan approach that includes attention to competing views.
When we make mistakes, we acknowledge and correct them, either in the same venue in which they were made, such as an on-air broadcast or the online version of a story or on the PA Post website.
We welcome comments and additional facts; if they add to the precision of what we present, we are committed to timely modifications.
We work to present a full range of views on controversial subjects. If a person or organization is criticized during our reporting, we seek them out so they can respond – and so our readers are more fully informed.
We avoid stereotyping, with particular attention to race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, and social status.
In our reporting, we hold accountable public officials, business and non-profit leaders and others who serve the public and seek or have power and influence, and endeavor to respect and protect the greater rights and expectations of privacy for those outside the public sphere.
Identification of sources
When we present the work of partners, we say so, but all media content produced by PA Post on any platform is the sole editorial responsibility of WITF.
Audiences will know where the media materials in a PA Post story come from, whether it’s video used as “background” or sound bites from a press conference, for example. The source will be identified in a way appropriate to the medium (e.g., in the credits of television program, in the intro to a radio story, in the cutline of a photograph.)
PA Post won’t distribute complete, pre-produced video or audio stories or segments from corporate, government or third-party non-news sources.
PA Post may distribute pre-produced video or audio stories or segments only from other news organizations (commercial or public) whose news judgment is trusted by WITF news. However, such stories must first be evaluated by the staff and deemed to meet our editorial standards.
Note that this policy does not apply the use of pre-produced video or audio stories or segments from our content partners, as these elements are the product of an editorial partner whose editorial standards are known to and approved by PA Post. If a national, state or regional news supplier does not meet PA Post’s editorial standards, it will be replaced.
When we edit interviews and other material, we strive to preserve the original meaning. When we process audio, video, or images electronically, we do so only to enhance clarity and not to distort meaning or mislead audiences as to how or when the content was obtained.
We tell the people and the organizations we cover who we are and what we are doing. We will generally avoid an undercover approach, but will disclose when we have done so.
We ask participants in our forums to create a level of clarity by providing details, examples, and evidence to support their contentions. We give them opportunities to respond to criticism and inconsistencies.
Transparency in Content Creation:
Selecting stories and issues for news
Topics we cover are selected at regular editorial meetings of our professional staff. We welcome suggestions about what to cover and we encourage comments, criticisms, and corrections of our work. We publish the names, position, and contact information for our staff on our website.
Several criteria influence topic selection, beginning with the importance to our community and the fit with our organization’s public service priorities. Other factors include relevance to our audience, timeliness, potential impact, our capacity to bring something new or unique to the topic, and our ability to take on the topic or issue in a way that meets our defined editorial standards.
Showing how we gather and report information
We work to verify and authenticate the information we present in ways that are visible and understandable to the public.
We use and cite public records, publications and databases whenever possible. We identify the individuals or organizations that are sources of our information unless such disclosure jeopardizes the livelihood or safety of the source, or it is otherwise impossible to obtain information that we believe to be newsworthy and reliable.
We help our readers find more information
We offer opportunities for audiences to learn more about what we cover by providing sources of additional information and views, such as fuller versions of interviews from which we have quoted, original documents used in our research and reporting, or places to find the views of those we consulted or considered in preparing our report.
We engage with our audiences on all these matters, including in settings in which editorial decision-makers discuss our broad principles, policies, and practices as well as specific editorial decisions with the public.
*The above is adapted from WITF’s Principles and Guidelines for Organizational Ethics and Editorial Integrity.*