Fort Worth Report is a locally focused nonprofit news organization whose mission is to “produce high-quality objective local journalism that informs public decision-making, addresses the quality of life of our community’s citizens, holds our policymakers accountable and tells our readers’ stories by listening to them and making sure they are valued and understood.”
To do so, we will adhere to established traditions of journalism independence. Our news staff has final authority in decisions about what we cover, how we present that coverage and what we publish on our digital channels, in accordance with our mission statement.
We need and appreciate support from donors, sponsors, and others who contribute financially or philosophically to sustaining Fort Worth Report’s mission. We recognize that our sources of income may come from individuals and institutions who have their own missions, including advocacy of causes. We respectfully pledge that they have no influence on our news coverage while we thank them for their support.
Further, we have adopted a donor transparency policy that identifies donors who contribute $5,000 or more annually. That policy and the list of such donors is available at https://fortworthreport.org/our-supporters/
Fort Worth Report also endorses the ideals of the following organizations in journalism ethics and transparency, as they relate to local issues in Fort Worth and Tarrant County:
- Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp, the key provisions of which are:
Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.
Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.
- Institute for Nonprofit News, https://inn.org/resources/business-strategy/standards-ethics/, excerpted below:
Editorial independence and financial transparency are critical pillars of nonprofit journalism that aim to strengthen public trust in journalism. They help ensure that funders, partners and parent organizations will not influence a publication’s reporting. By becoming members of INN, organizations demonstrate that they follow industry-upheld standards.
We also applaud and appreciate the conscientious approach of the nonprofit Colorado Sun to ethics, which is excerpted here:
In our pursuit of the truth, our readers’ interest always comes first, and there are no people or subjects that are off-limits. We are…beholden to no special interests. This is the third pillar of our work: Even as we strive to be a financially sustainable business and an intelligent source of news, we aggressively protect our independence and ensure that we exist only to serve readers.
Owning our news decisions:
Crucial to maintaining our independence is that we retain final authority over the subjects we choose to cover and the ways we choose to cover them. We want to engage with readers, listen to their thoughts about Colorado and solicit their story ideas. At times, we seek to actively involve readers in the reporting or fact-checking of stories. And we also ask readers and others for their financial support to sustain our operations.
But all of this comes with a clear boundary: We cannot and do not allow supporters, as much as we appreciate them, to use their contributions as leverage to dictate our news coverage. All coverage decisions belong to the staff of The Colorado Sun.
Transparency in funding:
Part of demonstrating our independence to the public is being transparent in where our revenue comes from. This assures readers that we have no silent backers and that we aren’t a covert plot by a special interest…
Even in seeking out revenue to sustain our operations, we must maintain our integrity and independence. Without trust in our journalism, our mission fails — regardless of how much money is in our bank account…
At no time should any employee or representative of The Colorado Sun give a potential contributor reason to believe that their contribution would ensure them favorable coverage, protect them from negative coverage or allow them to have any say in The Colorado Sun’s news agenda or opinion content. In the same way, people or organizations should never be threatened that, if they choose not to contribute to The Colorado Sun, they will be the subject of negative coverage or denied favorable coverage in retaliation.
Adopted by the Board of Directors, Fort Worth Report, May 13, 2021