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Code of Ethics

Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet that centers the people, places, and issues currently underreported by our national media. We strive to build a full and accurate record of what’s happening in our democracy through our work, and to perform that work to the highest standards of journalistic ethics and transparency as detailed on this page. Our Code of Ethics borrows liberally from the examples set by other respected non-profit news organizations, among them The Texas Tribune, NPR, ProPublica, The Society of Professional Journalists, and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Accuracy and Fairness

Prism strives to produce reporting that is truthful, nuanced, complete, and fair. Accuracy is paramount, and reporters take responsibility for the accuracy of their work by verifying information before publishing. Context matters, and reporters take care not to misrepresent or oversimplify within a story or when promoting or summarizing it. When we make a mistake, we will immediately address the error within the story text and also issue a correction. 

We value fair and unbiased reporting, and as such Prism’s news coverage is fact- and evidence-based, with the aim of helping our readers understand the world better by presenting them with the truth in a clear and compelling way. Because our first obligation is to the truth, if the balance of evidence in a particular controversy or debate weighs heavily on one side, or if sources seek to provide misleading information, we acknowledge that in our reporting. False equivalencies have no place in journalism, and you won’t find them at Prism. 

Sourcing

The sources reporters choose should be informed, reliable, and reflective of the impact of the issues we’re reporting on. Source selection is a matter of accuracy, and reporters must take care to choose sources with an eye toward adding complexity and nuance to their reporting rather than flattening it. Prism reporters don’t merely reach out to grab a quick quote—the aim is to actually listen to people’s stories and work forward from there. Where we publish reporting that includes criticism or allegations of wrongdoing, reporters will make every effort to contact the subjects and sources of that coverage and offer them an opportunity to comment. The way reporters interact with sources and the information they provide is a matter of integrity that Prism takes seriously. When speaking with sources, Prism reporters prioritize transparency and consent. Our reporters will always identify themselves as journalists, and will never misrepresent themselves or mislead sources to get an interview or a story. Particularly when interviewing sources who have never spoken to a journalist before, or discussing sensitive subjects, our reporters explain the concepts of on- and off-the-record and remind people they can decline to answer a question or stop the interview entirely. 

In the stories Prism publishes, we aim to identify all sources of information. We grant anonymity judiciously, reserving it for sources who may face danger, retribution, or other harm as a result of being identified, and who have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Where we quote an anonymous source, we will explain why. Reporters ensure that anonymous sources understand that their identity will be shared with a senior editor at Prism, who will also keep that information confidential.

Editorial Independence 

At Prism, editorial decisions are made by journalists alone. We pursue all stories we deem newsworthy, and no individual, organization, company, or other entity is considered off-limits or given favored treatment. 

Prism is financially supported by a diverse group of funding sources, including grants from foundations, donations from the public, and paid sponsorships. While we deeply appreciate those who support Prism’s work, funders who contribute do so with the understanding that we pursue journalism only in service of the truth and the public interest. Editorial decisions are not beholden to funders’ preferences or interests, and their contributions do not entitle them to preferential treatment or relationships with newsroom staff. Funders are also not protected from editorial scrutiny, either in our news or opinion/commentary sections. Where Prism reports on organizations, companies, or individuals who have donated to support our work, we disclose those who have contributed more than $1,000. 

Prism reporters have no involvement in developing or maintaining relationships with potential or actual donors. However, top editors at Prism work with other divisions of the organization, including communications, operations, and development to help support and promote editorial efforts. In conversations with funders, editors’ involvement is confined to discussing our journalistic approach, goals, and impact. 

Our editorial independence also extends to sources and contributors. The editorial team takes no part in fundraising activities by non-profit organizations that we report on, or whose personnel contribute op-eds, personal essays, commentaries, or other content to Prism, and reporters do not shape coverage to assist with such activities. 

Impartiality

As a non-profit, non-partisan media organization, Prism does not contribute, directly or indirectly, to political campaigns or to political parties or groups seeking to raise money for political campaigns or parties. 

However, we recognize that journalists are as much members of our society and polity as anyone else, and as such can be significantly impacted by policies enacted at the local, state, and federal levels. Our aim is not to set our newsroom staff apart from the political process or their roles and obligations as citizens and community members. Nevertheless, to maintain our readers’ trust and our editorial independence and integrity, we ask that editorial staff refrain from taking an activist role in partisan political activity, including volunteering for campaigns, signing petitions, participating in marches or rallies, displaying lawn signs or making political contributions. This policy applies only to political activity specific to a candidate or party. Issue-oriented political activity is permitted and encouraged, along with participation in civic, charitable, religious, public, social or residential organizations.

Reporters who seek an exception to this policy should notify their editors immediately. Where exceptions are granted, the reporter would be precluded from working on any related story, topic, or project. 

Conflicts of Interest

Newsroom staff should not work on stories, projects or initiatives with which they have a personal connection, vested interest or financial interest. If a conflict exists, reporters should disclose it immediately to an editor.

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