Our photos, graphics, and other visuals must always tell the truth. Our visuals shall not be altered or digitally manipulated, via Photoshop or any other means, in any way.
Our creators shall not stage, pose or re-enact events. In the cases of portraits, fashion or home design illustrations, the caption shall clearly state the image was created under studio or studio-like conditions.
No object shall be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph. The faces or identities of individuals shall not be hidden. The use of the cloning tool to eliminate dust on camera sensors or scratches on scanned negatives or scanned prints is acceptable.
The following minor changes are acceptable: cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into grayscale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction.
Alterations in density, contrast, color and saturation levels that meaningfully affect the original scene are forbidden. Backgrounds shall not be digitally blurred or eliminated. The removal of “red eye” from photographs is not permissible.
For video, the use of standard methods of improving technical quality, such as adjusting video and audio levels, color correcting due to white balance, eliminating buzzing, hums, clicks, pops, or overly long pauses or other technical faults, and equalization of audio to make the sound clearer as long as the use of these methods does not conceal, obscure, remove or otherwise alter the content of any image.
Graphics may eliminate the background of a photograph to leave the headshot of the newsmaker. This may then be combined with a logo representing the person’s company or industry, and the two elements may be layered over a neutral background.
Such graphics must not misrepresent the facts and must not result in an image that looks like a photograph; it must clearly be a graphic.
Radio and other audio actualities must always tell the truth. We do not alter or manipulate the content of a newsmaker actuality in any way. Voice reports by our creators may be edited to remove pauses or stumbles or similar audio mistakes.
The use of standard audio processing methods of normalization of levels, general volume adjustments, equalization to make the sound clearer, noise reduction to reduce extraneous sounds such as telephone line noise, and fading in and out of the start and end of sound bites is permitted as long as the use of these methods does not conceal, obscure, remove or otherwise alter the content of the audio.
We do not use obscenities, racial epithets or other offensive slurs in stories unless (1) they are part of direct quotations and (2) there is a compelling reason for their use. We do not use any version of any word that invokes a deity, including but not limited to “goddamn.”
If a story cannot be told without reference to them, we must first try to find a way to give the reader a sense of what was said without using the specific word or phrase. The use of the word itself requires the approval of a level 3 editor.
We do not generally identify those who say they have been sexually assaulted or pre-teenage children who are accused of crimes or who are witnesses to them, except in unusual circumstances. Nor do we transmit photos or video that identify such persons. An exception: if an adult victim, who was victimized as a child, publicly identifies himself as such, he may be identified.
Content creators, whether employees or contractors, shall avoid any political activity, whether they cover politics regularly or not. They may not run for political office or accept political appointment; nor may they perform public relations work for politicians or their groups. Under no circumstances should they donate money to political organizations or political campaigns. They should use great care in joining or making contributions to other organizations that may take political stands.
And level 3 editor must be informed when a spouse — or other members of an employee’s household — has any ongoing involvement in political causes, either professionally or personally.
Content creators must be mindful that opinions they express may damage our reputation as an unbiased source of news. They must refrain from declaring their views on public issues in any public forum, whether in Web logs, chat rooms, letters to the editor, petitions, bumper stickers or lapel buttons, and must not take part in demonstrations.
Gifts from news sources, or potential news sources, shall not be accepted at any time, unless the value of the gift is less than $50. Refrigerator magnets, baseball caps, t-shirts and similar items may be accepted provided that they fall under the $50 value exception and do not contribute to an impression of bias.
Content creators shall not ask news sources, or others they meet in a professional capacity, to extend jobs or other benefits to any person nor shall they offer jobs, internships or any other benefit to news sources.
Nothing in our news reporting – words, photos, graphics, sound or video – may be fabricated. We don’t use pseudonyms, composite characters or fictional names, ages, places or dates. Ever.
We do not ask people to pose for photos unless we are making a portrait and then we clearly state that in the caption. We explain in the caption the circumstances under which photographs are made. If someone is asked to pose for photographs by a third party and that is reflected in our images, we say so in the caption. Such wording would be: “XXX poses for photos.’