Newsroom Ethics and Standards
The Mission of Our Journalism
Street Sense Media’s mission is to “end homelessness in the Washington, D.C. area by empowering people in need with the skills, tools, and confidence to succeed. Together we use a range of media platforms to raise awareness and spotlight solutions to homelessness in our community.”
To this end, our newsroom gathers information to meet our community’s needs in line with the highest standards of accuracy and fairness. Each of our journalists is trained on and adheres to the Society of Professional Journalists’s Code of Ethics: Seek truth and report it, Minimize harm, Act independently, and Be accountable and transparent.
Street Sense Media is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan news outlet. Decisions on news coverage begin and end within our editorial department, which is insulated from all internal and external forces. Neither our board of directors, our CEO, our funders and advertisers, nor our partner newsrooms hold sway over our coverage. We maintain a firewall between news decisions, opinion curation, sources of all revenue, and any advocacy engaged in by non-journalism staff members or contractors.
Donor & Financial Transparency
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, 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. But our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of financial support. Our organization may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our newsroom always 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.
Our organization makes public all donors who give a total of $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 the Institute for Nonprofit News’s membership standards. As a news nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from select government entities, political parties, elected officials, or candidates seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, deemed by our board of directors, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.
Any time our news coverage overlaps with our supporters or partners, that relationship will be disclosed immediately after the person or entity is named in the story. Stories that include such disclosures may be found here.
Equity and Inclusion
Street Sense Media aims to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve, in our staff and contributors, our editorial choices (including sources), and our priorities.
Inclusiveness is at the heart of thinking and acting as journalists. The District of Columbia has some of the highest levels of inequality in the United States. And these complex issues we face as a society require respect for different viewpoints. Race (ethnicity), class, generation, gender, and geography all affect point of view. Reflecting these differences in our reporting leads to better, more nuanced stories, fuller and fairer context for our audience, and a better-informed community.
We are interested in hearing from different ethnic, civic, and business groups in the communities we serve. Please let us know about the stories in your neighborhood.
We also submit newsroom data to the News Leaders Association’s annual diversity survey.
We correct all errors of fact, large and small, and invite you to help keep us accountable. All corrections are made on the website and called out with a notice at the end of the content. Significant errors will also be highlighted through notices on social media channels and in the next publication. Our goal is to be transparent by highlighting what was changed, when it was changed, and why the change was necessary.
Please notify our editors of any errors you encounter via [email protected].
Stories that have run a correction may be found here.
Our reporters always push for sources to speak on the record, or to find an alternate source that can provide the same information. However, because we focus on what affects the most vulnerable people in the District and surrounding areas, Street Sense Media grants confidentiality more frequently than many other newsrooms. It is our policy to only do so when it is absolutely necessary to provide crucial information. And we carefully assess whether or not what we publish will expose anyone to increased risk.
Some of the questions we ask are: Will speaking out about your shelter, your meal program, or your source of cash assistance deny you basic needs or make you a target for abuse from people with power over you? Will sharing something you witnessed put you at risk of violence or job loss? Will disclosing your homelessness or a health issue impede a job search?
Our editors must always know the identity of and contact information for an unnamed source. In collaboration with the reporter, they evaluate the person’s trustworthiness and our ability to protect their identity. They also weigh the value added to our reporting by the person’s experience against any potential wavering of audience members’ trust. A line explaining why a source is unnamed will always accompany their introduction in the story.