CCIJ is a nonprofit media organization that supports investigative journalists, visual journalists, and data scientists collaborating on projects about vital global issues affecting under-resourced communities. Ethical principles drive everything from our internal practices in how we work as a small, international, diverse team to the stories we take on to how we interact with our commissioned freelance partners, members, funders, and those whose stories we tell.
We understand that legal and ethical standards and practices vary by country and culture and we work to ensure we are as respectful as possible of local values. We seek to align our principles and practices with the values and codes of ethics of other professional organizations in countries around the world.
Here are our core principles:
We strive to explain to our audience the process of building our stories and provide raw data and documentation for public consumption. We work to make our decision-making process clear to the public. We disclose any relationships with partners or funders that might appear to influence our coverage.
- Editorial independence
CCIJ adopts the standard of editorial independence by the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), of which we are a member:
Our organization retains full authority over editorial content and maintains 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.
We accept donations, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general and specific support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not as a condition of donor support.
Our organization 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.
Our organization will make 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 INN’s Membership Standards.
- Fairness and accuracy
CCIJ staff and representatives will act professionally at all times in dealing with sources, even hostile and recalcitrant ones. All sources will be treated with courtesy and respect in the news gathering process. People whose stories we tell should have many opportunities to respond to our findings and facts. Whenever practical, multiple attempts should be made to contact anyone named in our stories, particularly those cast in a negative light, and those attempts should begin as early as possible in the reporting process. Reporters and producers should discuss with their editors what is appropriate in terms of notice and attempts to obtain comment or response.
Our credibility is built on honest, accurate, fair and thorough journalism. We take great care to verify our work. Reporters, photographers, filmmakers and data analysts are responsible for confirming all facts and for footnoting their stories. Editors check our staff-generated content and must take care in generating headlines, captions and any other additional content to ensure that we accurately capture and reflect the essence of the story package.
- Do no harm, especially to children
Reporters should strive to minimize harm. Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief. Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance. Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention.
Reporting on children warrants additional consideration. In light of the prevalence of digital publication and the additional risks for children we must consider seriously the ramifications of global digital publication. In quoting minors, we will ensure that we have obtained parental consent or the consent of a legal guardian whenever possible. When we publish images of children, we ensure that we have consent from parents or guardians when reasonable. When possible, permission should be in writing or a video recording but, when possible and reasonable, verbal consent is a minimum.
- Conflicts of interest and gifts
Newsroom staff or assigned freelancers and contractors should not work on stories, projects or initiatives with which they have a personal connection, vested interest or financial interest. We ask that staffers, contractors and freelancers exercise an abundance of caution in these matters. Even a perceived conflict could damage our credibility. CCIJ employees or representatives will under no circumstance accept gifts from sources or potential news sources.
- Fundraising and financial transparency
We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding for our organization. Our organization will make public all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year, and all published stories will include information regarding funding sources.
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 INN’s Membership Standards. We will only accept funding from government entities where that is done through a public call for grant applications and governed by a grant contract which ensures editorial independence and complies with this policy.
We will not accept charitable donations from anonymous sources, lobbying groups, 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. We will not accept funding from anyone who does not accept and abide by this policy.
We will perform due diligence on all potential donors and grant funders to satisfy ourselves that accepting grants or donations from these sources will not in any way contravene this policy or our editorial independence.