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Ethics and Policy

It is our goal to always be accurate and balanced. To that end, we do our best to vet our stories as professionally as possible. However, this effort is clearly limited by the size of our staff and the fact that we are volunteers.

Society of Professional Journalists 

Code of Ethics

Winchester News subscribes to the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) code of ethics, SPJ believes that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate fair and thorough. The four principles of ethical journalism are to

  • Seek truth and report It
  • Minimize harm
  • Act Independently
  • Be accountable and transparent

An ethical journalist acts with integrity. and we believe that fundamental to ethical journalism is being accountable and transparent in our work. Our journalists should:

  • Explain ethical choices and process to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
  • Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
  • Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
  • Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.
  • Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

Editorial Independence Policy

We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News.  Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

Our organization may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

Donor Transparency Policy.  We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization.  Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions. 

We accept gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals, organizations, and foundations to help with our general operations, coverage of specific topics, and special projects. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates as a public trust, we do not pay certain taxes. We may receive funds from standard government programs offered to nonprofits or similar businesses.

Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content. We will not accept donations from sources who are deemed by our board of directors to present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.

In addition, our board of directors, while advisors, do not make editorial decisions. Those decisions are at the sole discretion of the editor then in place, regardless of whether the editor is a volunteer or a paid employee.

As a news nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from anonymous sources, government entities, political parties, elected officials, or candidates seeking public office. We make public all revenue sources and donors who give $5,000 or more per year. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with INN’s Membership Standards. Winchester News subscribes to INN’s Donor Transparency principles and policies and will attest that no more than 15 percent of its total annual revenue will come from anonymous donors.

Winchester News

Conflict of Interest Policy

The following Financial Conflict of Interest Policy (“Conflict of Interest Policy”) is an effort (i) to ensure that the deliberations and decisions of Winchester News are made solely in the interest of promoting the quality of journalism in the state of Massachusetts and (ii) to protect the interests of Winchester News when it considers any transaction, contract, or arrangement that might benefit or be perceived to benefit the private interest of a person affiliated with Winchester News (each, a Winchester News Representative). As used in this Conflict of Interest Policy, a Winchester News Representative includes any director, advisory board member, financial advisor, legal counsel or employee.

Each Winchester News Representative owes a duty to Winchester News to advance Winchester News’s legitimate interests when the opportunity to do so arises. Each Winchester News Representative must give undivided allegiance when making decisions affecting the organization. Similarly, Winchester News Representatives must be faithful to Winchester News’s nonprofit mission and are not permitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with the central goals of the organization and its nonprofit status.

Gifts.  No Winchester News Representative shall personally accept gifts or favors that could compromise his or her loyalty to Winchester News. Any gifts or benefits personally accepted from a party having a material interest in the outcome of Winchester News or its employees by a Winchester News Representative individually should be merely incidental to his or her role as a Winchester News Representative and should not be of substantial value. Any gift with a value of $250 or more, or any gifts with a cumulative value in excess of $250 received by a Winchester News Representative in any twelve-month period from a single source, shall be considered substantial. Cash payments may not be accepted, and no gifts should be accepted if there are strings attached. For example, no Winchester News Representative may accept gifts if he or she knows that such gifts are being given to solicit his or her support of or opposition to the outcome or content of any Winchester News publication.

Conflicts of Interest.  The following are examples of conflicts of interest which must be promptly disclosed to Winchester News Board of Directors pursuant to Section 4 below by any Winchester News Representative with knowledge of such conflict of interest:

  1. any real or apparent conflict of interest between a donor or the subject of a Winchester News publication or report and a Winchester News Representative;
  2. a Winchester News Representative’s ownership of an equity interest in a person or entity that is or will be the subject of a Winchester News publication or report; and
  3.  failure to disclose to Winchester News all relationships between the subject of any Winchester News publication or report and any Winchester News Representative or close relatives of the Winchester News Representative.

Conflict Procedure:

  1. If a Winchester News Representative or party related to a Winchester News Representative has an interest in any contract, action or transaction to be entered into with TWinchester News, a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest exists. Any Winchester News Representative having knowledge that such a conflict of interest exists or may exist (an “Interested Winchester News Representative”) will so advise the Board of Directors promptly. An Interested Winchester News Representative will include in the notice the material facts as to the relationship or interest of the Interested Winchester News Representative in the entity proposing to enter into a contract, action or transaction with Winchester News.
  2. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the Board of Directors may authorize any committee appointed pursuant to the by-laws (a “Committee”) to act in lieu of the Board of Directors in determining whether an action, contract or transaction is fair to Winchester News as of the time it is authorized or approved by the Committee.
  3. At any time that a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest is identified, the President of the Board or a Chair of the applicable Committee will ensure that such conflict of interest is placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable. The notice of such meeting of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will include, to the extent available when the notice is sent, a description of the conflict of interest matter to be discussed. By notice before the meeting or at the meeting, the directors on the board or the Committee, as applicable, will be advised that a vote will be taken at the meeting and that, in order to authorize the relevant contract, action or transaction, an affirmative vote of a majority of disinterested directors present at the meeting at which a quorum is present will be required and will be sufficient, even though the disinterested directors constitute less than a quorum of the Board of Directors or the Committee.
  4. Reasonable effort will be made to cause the material facts concerning the relationships between the individuals and Winchester News which create the conflict to be delivered to and shared with the members of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, prior to the meeting to enable the directors to arrive at the meeting prepared to discuss the issue. In the event it is not practicable to deliver the information prior to the meeting, it will be delivered to the directors at the meeting, and the directors can act upon the matter with the same authority as if notice had been given prior to the meeting.
  5. The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will invite all parties to the conflict of interest to attend the meeting, to make presentations and to be prepared to answer questions, if necessary. The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will also invite outside experts if necessary.
  6. At the meeting, providing a quorum is present, the conflict will be discussed to ensure that the directors present are aware of the issues and the factors involved. The interested directors may be counted for purposes of a quorum, even though they may not take part in any vote on the issues.
  7. The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, must decide, in good faith, reasonably justified by the material facts, whether the action, contract or transaction would be in the best interest of Winchester News and fair to Winchester News as of the time it is authorized or approved.
  8. All interested directors must abstain from voting and, if necessary, leave the room when the vote is taken.
  9. The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will maintain a written account of all that transpires at the meeting and incorporate such account into the minutes of the meeting and disseminate it to the full Board of Directors. Such minutes will be presented for approval at the next meeting of the Board of Directors and maintained in the corporate record book.
  10. To the extent that the conflict of interest is continuing and the contract, action or transaction goes beyond one (1) year, the foregoing notice and discussion and vote will be repeated on an annual basis.

Personal Loans:  Winchester News may not loan to, or guarantee the personal obligations of, any Winchester News Representative.

Editorial Policy, Paid Advertising

The Board of Directors of Winchester News, Inc. has set out the policy for political advertisements appearing in Winchester News. Our commitment to serving the whole community with impartial, fair, and inclusive local news coverage is the model that we will apply to considering political ads in our news outlet.

Accordingly, Winchester News will not accept paid political advertisements. We will, however, offer every candidate running for a local elected office a free quarter-page “signature” ad that will appear two weeks prior to a given election. A candidate’s “signature” ad is a list of community members who have indicated their support for a candidate.