Code of Ethics & Journalistic Standards

Our Mission

TRI-CITIES DISPATCH is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit digital news organization. Our mission is to engage with readers on matters of public interest and to deliver impartial, smart and essential news to the citizens of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra, B.C. one story at a time. 

General Guidlines

TRI-CITIES DISPATCH aims to produce journalism that adheres to five core values: accuracy, independence, collaboration, fairness and transparency. All Dispatch employees and freelance journalists are responsible for ensuring our work lives up to these ideals.

TRI-CITIES DISPATCH is inspired by the Atkinson Principles (see below).

This Code of Ethics and Journalistic Standards draws inspiration and ideas (and in many cases, uses specific language) from the Poynter Institute, The City (NYC), The Texas Tribune, The Marshall Project, ProPublica, the Online News Association, the Institute for Nonprofit News and Society of Professional Journalists, among others. We thank these and other organizations for the time and thought they put into codifying their approaches to independent, impartial journalism.

Impartiality, Independence and Conflicts of Interest

TRI-CITIES DISPATCH retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our publication. 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.

Editorial decisions are made by journalists alone. Dispatch journalists play no role in cultivating financial relationships with major donors or corporate sponsors.

The Dispatch accepts 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 news judgments are also made independently of the Board of Directors of our non-profit publisher Constellation Media Society.

The Dispatch 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.

The Dispatch will make public all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year, with the only exception being for those who request anonymity due to privacy concerns. If an article mentions any funders or members of the Constellation Media Society board of directors, we’ll disclose the relevant relationships in the story.

Journalists will not work on stories or projects in which they have a unique vested interest, whether financial or personal. Where unavoidable conflicts or other situational factors that may validly affect the judgment or credibility of journalists, they will be disclosed.

Our Funding

TRI-CITIES DISPATCH is a non-profit and relies on funding from trade unions and individuals.

We subscribe to the following standards of donor transparency, based on those adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News.

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. 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 make public most donors who give $5,000 or more per year, with the only exception being for those individuals who request anonymity due to privacy concerns.

As a nonprofit, we will avoid accepting donations from anonymous sources, and we will not accept donations from political parties, elected officials or candidates actively seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, deemed by our non-profit publisher, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.

Advertising

TRI-CITIES DISPATCH relies in part on advertising to fund our journalism. 

Advertisers will not receive preferential coverage, and if an article mentions any advertiser, we will disclose this relationship within the story.

We do not allow advertisers to have a say in the selection of the content of articles or images. 

We do not allow advertising for certain types of products. We have a committee of Board Members, advertising and editorial staff which reviews advertising proposals to ensure they do not affect the credibility of the publication or violate our ethics rules or principles.

Corrections

When we make a mistake — we are human — we will both quickly correct the story and note the correction at the bottom of the story. If you find what you believe to be an error, email hello@tricitiesdispatch.com. 

Journalistic Standards

These guidelines, with some additions, come from the Society for Professional Journalists. 

TRI-CITIES DISPATCH journalists will:

• Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible. 

• Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story. 

• Identify themselves as journalists when working on a story. There may be circumstances when undercover investigative reporting is warranted based on the importance of a story, but this decision will be made in collaboration with editors.

• Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience, seek sources whose voices we seldom hear and attempt to reflect in our reporting the diversity of the Tri-Cities. 

• Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting. 

• Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources. 

• Reserve confidentiality for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why confidentiality was granted. 

• Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing. 

• Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government.

• Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate. 

• Consider privacy when reporting on individuals. The standard for publishing material about private individuals who are thrust into the public eye is higher than that for public individuals.

• Label advocacy and commentary clearly so readers understand what is news and what is opinion. 

• Never plagiarize. Always attribute.

Privacy

TRI-CITIES DISPATCH understands the value of privacy and is committed to being transparent about the ways data are collected from readers. See the full Privacy Policy here.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

We recognize that systemic discrimination based on age, class, cultural and/or linguistic background, ability, economic status, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation have contributed to an environment where the voices of many people in Canada aren’t uplifted. We are committed to reporting on stories that reflect our communities’ diversity, as well as hiring and promoting journalists from a variety of underrepresented backgrounds.

The Atkinson Principles

Background: Joseph E. Atkinson was publisher of the Toronto Star for 50 years, from 1899 to 1948 and espoused strong views on the role and editorial principles of newspapers, based on “his belief that a progressive newspaper should contribute to the advancement of society through pursuit of social, economic and political reforms.”

According to TorStar, these beliefs form what are called the Atkinson Principles. TRI-CITIES DISPATCH is inspired by these principles and we seek to engage in public interest journalism with the following values in mind: 

Social justice: Atkinson was relentless in pressing for social and economic programs to help those less advantaged and showed particular concern for the least advantaged among us. 

We understand that pursuing social justice through journalism means reporting on issues that are often overlooked precisely because they affect members of our community that are marginalized or otherwise dismissed by powerful actors and institutions.

Individual and civil liberties: Atkinson always pressed for equal treatment of all citizens under the law, particularly minorities, and was dedicated to the fundamental freedoms of belief, thought, opinion and expression and the freedom of press. 

We understand that in a democratic society, individual and civil liberties are foundational, but not absolute, and will sometimes need to be balanced against each other. Where these issues arise our journalists will work to bring relevant context and history to their reporting. 

Community and civic engagement: Atkinson continually advocated the importance of proper city planning, the development of strong communities with their vibrant local fabrics and the active involvement of citizens in civic affairs. 

As a community news organization, we see local neighbourhoods as places that shape the lives of the people who live in them, and our journalists will prioritize reporting on important issues that are close to home.

The rights of working people: Atkinson was committed to the rights of working people, including freedom of association and the safety and dignity of the workplace.

Considering how we organize production and who benefits as a result of production is an essential site of analysis for public interest journalism. We understand that reporting on how to protect the economic and social situation of workers is fundamental, and our journalists will seek to report as diligently on the actions of employers as they do on other powerful institutions in society. 

The necessary role of government: When Atkinson believed the public need was not met by the private sector and market forces alone, he argued strongly for government intervention.

We understand that municipal, provincial and federal governments have the power to make decisions and implement policies that can meaningfully improve the lives of people. Where government action or inaction is implicated in our reporting, we will compare, contextualize and confront decision makers with the aim of stimulating discussion about the necessary role of government.