We do not exploit our access to private information, or skew the news for our gain.
As journalists, we regularly acquire access to confidential information. The only acceptable use of that information is to inform the public. This means we must scrupulously avoid any appearance that we’ve skewed our journalism to enrich ourselves or our associates.
These considerations obviously apply in straightforward conflict-of-interest cases, such as when we own stock in a subject of news coverage, but we must also apply them when we discuss with supervisors any potential media products that emerge from our reporting, such as books or movie projects. Say a political reporter uncovers evidence of illegal activity by a presidential candidate, and the resulting media firestorm results in a book offer. That reporter should sit down with a supervisor before entertaining any such offer.
We do not share confidential information with anyone inside or outside of NPR who intends to use that information for personal or institutional gain, excepting standard journalistic practices such as sharing information as a member of a news “pool.”
October 17, 2011