Code of Ethics

The Community Service Journalism Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports independent journalism and seeks to engage citizens in the civil debate of issues pertaining to their communities.

Our mission is to support impartial, informative reporting, and promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of community concern.

Our passion is to keep community journalism alive and vigorous in a very difficult industry. If we fail, our very democracy will suffer. We seek to support efforts to provide objective, fact-based journalism that provide citizens with the information they need to make intelligent decisions pertaining to their communities.

This mission drives the values and guidelines set out in our code of ethics, which borrows generously from the policies set by other fine nonprofit news organizations like ProPublica, NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The CSJ Foundation is financially supported by donations from individuals and foundations, corporate sponsorships and events. Because of this, we believe it’s vital our citizens understand –and trust – our efforts will always remain independent and nonpartisan -- and never determined, directed or dictated by special interests, outside influences or contributors.

We pledge complete transparency as to our sources of revenue and how our funds are spent and distributed. Those who receive funding from our organization maintain editorial independence to ensure their actions are dictated by the interest of the communities they serve as journalists.

We invite, encourage and welcome feedback and comments on how well we are living up to fulfilling our mission. 

We pledge full and total transparency

• We aim for the highest practicable degree of transparency regarding editorial, donor and business standards and operations, both as a matter of journalistic integrity and because of the transparency journalists demand from other institutions.

• We will clearly disclose our ethics policies, mission statements, conflict of interest policies and fundraising policies on our websites.

• We will clearly disclose our federal tax returns, audited financial statements and basic information about the staff and board of directors on our website; and we will explain how to contact our organization to report errors or make complaints on our websites.

• Donor information will be readily available to the public. We believe citizens should know who paid for the journalism or specific projects.

• We pledge to avoid accepting funds when it could compromise the integrity or credibility of the journalism.

We pledge to declare our conflicts of interest

• Those who contribute to the CSJ Foundation do so with the understanding that we are only committed to great journalism and civic engagement. Donors and contributors have no direct input, involvement or oversight of any CSJ Foundation decisions or activities.

• Donors -- individuals, foundations, corporate sponsors, underwriters — are told their contributions do not entitle them to preferential treatment or to relationships with a newsroom staff, and in no way protect them from investigations or scrutiny.

• All contributions over $500 will be listed by year and by amount, and published on our website.

• Any stories that appear on our website, or any journalism supported by the CSJ Foundation will include a written disclosure that alerts readers to any story that includes a quote, reference or any other mention of a CSJ Foundation donor or sponsor who has contributed $1,000 or more.

• Sponsors and donors who underwrite a CSJ Foundation event do not determine the panelists, subject matter or the line of questioning. Journalists may be asked to moderate panels or speak at CSJ Foundation events, so long as their role is purely journalistic.

• CSJ Foundation trustees, employees, contractors and interns will not accept any gift with more than a nominal value from any company, individual or institution that could have an interest in the CSJ Foundation’s support of local journalism or its promotion of civic engagement.

• All CSJ Foundation trustees and officers serve as volunteers and receive no payment or any type of remuneration for their services to the foundation.

• All CSJ Foundation trustees, employees, contractors and interns will refrain from partisan political activity of any kind, including making political contributions or displaying partisan signage.