Code of Ethics
InvestigateWest follows the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
We are also a founding member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, which maintains membership standards around nonprofit status, donor transparency, and nonpartisan journalism.
Policy on Financial Support
This policy seeks to reconcile the need for financial support with the values of InvestigateWest, the foremost of which is editorial independence. The organization fails just as surely if it loses public confidence in its integrity as if it becomes unsustainable financially. The policy acknowledges, too, that individuals and organizations invest in projects that further their own goals and values, directly or indirectly. Hence, the policy is organized around three types of support: support for investigative journalism in general; support for broad topical coverage; and support for specific reporting projects. Furthermore, this policy includes a section outlining the rights of InvestigateWest’s financial supporters.
The Board of Directors retains full authority over the Policy on Financial Support and may reject financial support for any reason to protect the journalistic and business interests of the organization. The policy pertains to both cash and in-kind donations.
InvestigateWest exercises close scrutiny when deciding who can fund, sponsor, or otherwise underwrite ongoing news coverage. InvestigateWest will accept financial support only from funders that agree to our policy of editorial independence and understand our mission to strengthen communities, engage citizens in civic life, and help set the policy agenda through powerful, independent journalism.
Like many news organizations, InvestigateWest maintains a firewall between news coverage decisions and its sources of revenue. InvestigateWest’s financial supporters have no voice in editorial decisions. All donations, sponsorships and other forms of revenue are subject to compliance with the Policy on Financial Support, including provisions for transparency, the disclosure of donors’ identities, and the prohibition on donations from political parties and elected officials. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of InvestigateWest’s funders or their products, services or opinions.
Types of Support
InvestigateWest will seek and accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations in any amount for the general support of InvestigateWest’s journalism. Acceptance of this support neither expresses nor implies any voice in editorial decisions beyond the broadly stated mission of independent media.
InvestigateWest will also seek and accept operational support, such as for capacity building, technology or administrative costs, and activities, such as training events, screenings, and receptions. As described elsewhere in this policy, financial supporters will have no voice in decisions regarding InvestigateWest’s operations and activities.
We expect that most gifts and grants of this type will come from foundations, organizations and individuals concerned about independent media, healthy communities, and civic engagement in the region served by InvestigateWest.
Broad Topical Coverage
InvestigateWest provides broad topical coverage of the environment, public health, and government accountability, for which it actively seeks financial support. To assure that donors respond to the priorities of InvestigateWest rather than InvestigateWest responding to the agenda of donors, the board of directors will approve any new areas of topical coverage before gifts are solicited or accepted.
InvestigateWest may accept contributions from funders who agree to the following conditions:
- Funding is tied to broad topical coverage defined by InvestigateWest but not to a particular reporting project or investigation.
- All donations of $5,000 or more will be announced at the time of the gift or grant, and publicly acknowledged on the InvestigateWest website for at least 12 months.
Specific Reporting Projects
InvestigateWest will seek and accept gifts, grants and sponsorships to support specific reporting projects. InvestigateWest exercises closest scrutiny when deciding who can fund, sponsor, or otherwise underwrite specific projects. All project-specific grants require approval from the InvestigateWest board of directors and will conform to the following conditions:
- InvestigateWest exercises full editorial control. The donor specifically cedes any right to influence or review editorial content or to restrict its distribution.
- All funds are transferred to InvestigateWest prior to the start of the project and are not refundable.
- All financial contributions to specific projects are transparent and publicly acknowledged with a disclaimer and a link to this Policy on Financial Support.
Getting facts right is central to InvestigateWest’s mission, and so we place a premium on accurate reporting and skillful editing. But sometimes journalists can fall short, and we strive to correct errors promptly and openly. When we do so, we note the correction on the page where the story appears.
Any time a staffer of InvestigateWest is informed of a potential inaccuracy, they are obliged to bring this to the attention of the executive editor.
Likewise, we encourage members of the public who detect a potential inaccuracy in InvestigateWest’s work to notify us. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would really appreciate it!