Editorial Guidelines and Code of Ethics

These editorial guidelines are designed to help news submitters and our staff members understand what we accept and do not accept for inclusion in our article and product database. Before you submit news to our site, we would appreciate if you’d read this page first, to ensure objective information and keep Axistive the most appreciated assistive technology resource on the Web.

Overview

Free travel

To remain as free of influence or obligation to report a story, the editor should not accept free travel, accommodations or meals related to travel. Free travel and accommodations which are non-coverage related may be accepted if the primary purpose is for education or training and is related to the fulfillment of an agreement or contract.

Gifts

Gifts should not be accepted. Any gift should be returned to the sender or sent to a charity. If the gift is of no significant value, such as a desk trinket, small food item or pen, the staff member may retain the gift.

Free tickets, passes, discounts

Editors assigned to cover a event, lecture or other entertainment event should pay for admission. Free tickets or passes may be accepted by editors assigned to cover an event or by those attending for legitimate news purposes. Press facilities at these events may only be used by editors assigned to the event. Free tickets or passes may be accepted for personal use only if tickets are available on the same complimentary basis to non-editors.

Books, records, products given for review

Any materials given to Axistiveâ„¢ for review become the property of Axistive and not of any individual editor.

Other employment

Other employment must not conflict with the editors primary responsibilities to Axistive. The editor must report any other employment to Axistive to avoid any conflicts of interest with assignments or other editorials or business responsibilities or influences.

Other freelance media work

Approval of work for a medium and freelance work should be sought in advance of the commitment. It is permissible only in a noncompetitive medium, on an editors own time and should not conflict with the editors obligations to Axistive.

Outside activities, including political

Political involvement, holding public office and service in community organizations should be considered carefully to avoid compromising personal integrity and that of Axistive. The notion of the editor as an independent observer and fact-finder is important to preserve. An editor involved in specific political action should not be assigned to cover that involvement. Editors should contact their personal lives in a manner which will not lead to a conflict of interest.

Relationships and coverage

Editors must declare conflicts and avoid involvement in stories dealing with members of their families. Editors must not cover—in words, photograph or artwork—or make news judgments about family members or persons with whom they have a financial, adversarial or close relationship.

Use of alcoholic beverages while on assignment

Even though an editor may be able to drink legally, no drinking in a social setting such as a dinner or reception is recommended to avoid any suspicion by a source or the public that the editor’s judgment, credibility or objectivity is impaired by alcohol.

Sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment is: suggestive comments, sexual innuendo, threats, insults, jokes about sex-specific traits, sexual propositions; vulgar gestures, whistling, leering, suggestive or insulting noises; touching, pinching, brushing the body, coercing sexual intercourse, assault. This conduct can be called job-related harassment when submission is made implicitly or explicitly a condition of work related assignments, and if such conduct interferes with the editor’s performance or creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment. Sexual harassment is prohibited and we follow procedures for reporting complaints.

Plagiarism of work, art, other

Plagiarism is prohibited and is illegal if the material is copyright protected. For the purpose of this code, plagiarism is defined as word-for-word duplication of another person’s writing and shall be limited to passages that contain distinctively personal thoughts, uniquely stylized phraseology or exclusive facts. A comparable prohibition applies to the use of graphics. Information obtained from a published work must be independently verified before it can be reported as a new, original story.

Fabrication of any kind

The use of composite characters or imaginary situations or characters will not be allowed in news or feature stories. A columnist may, occasionally, use such an approach in developing a piece, but it must be clear to the reader that the person or situation is fictional.

Electronically altered photos

Electronically altering the content of photos for news and general feature stories or stand-alone news and feature photos is not allowed. Content may be altered as a special effect for a limited number of features if the caption or credit line includes that fact and if an average reader would not mistake the photo for reality. Readers expect photos and stories to be truthful.

Photo illustration

Set-ups or poised scenes may be used if the reader will not be misled or if the caption or credit line tells readers that it is a photo illustration.

Cooperation with law enforcement and or government

To be an effective watchdog, a publication must remain independent. Cooperation or involvement in the work of these agencies should be restricted to what is required by law. Editors should know any freedom of information, open meeting and shield laws that apply to their work. If an editor thinks any public authority is interfering with their work as an editor, the incident should be reported.

Scrutiny of a public person’s life

Conflicts exist between a person’s desire for privacy and the public good or the public’s right to know about a public person’s life. Persons who freely choose to become public celebrities or public servants should expect a greater level of scrutiny of their life than a private person—even a private person who suddenly is involved in a public situation. Make judgments based on the real news value of the situation, common sense and decency. Do not badger a person who has made it clear that he or she does not want to be interviewed or photographed. One exception is those who are involved in criminal activity or in court. Publishing intimate details of a person’s life, such as their health or sexual activities, should be done with extreme care and only if the facts are important for the completeness of a story that reflect in a significant way upon the person’s public life.

Profane, vulgar words, explicit sexual language

The primary audience of Axistive is adults. Profane and vulgar words are a part of everyday conversation, but not generally used for professional writing. During the interview stage of news gathering, editors will encounter interviewees who use words viewed as vulgar and profane. The staff may publish these words if the words are important to the reader’s understanding of the situation—the reality of life—or if the words help establish the character of the interviewee. The staff may decide to limit references to prevent the vulgar or profane language from overshadowing the other, more important facts of the story. Profane and vulgar words are not acceptable for opinion writing. Though they may be vulgar or profane, individual words are not obscene. Explicit language—but not vulgar, street language—describing sexual activities and human body parts and functions should be used for accurate reporting of health stories.

Sexist language

Editors will avoid sexist labels and descriptive language and replace them with neutral terms and descriptions.

Negative stereotyping

Editors will take care in writing to avoid applying commonly thought but usually erroneous group stereotypes to individuals who are members of a particular group. Generalizations based upon stereotypes can be misleading and inaccurate. In a broader sense, Editors and photographers should avoid more subtle stereotyping in their selection of interviewees and subjects of photographs. Some examples of negative stereotypes: unmarried, black, teenage, welfare mothers; unemployed, alcohol using Native Americans; overweight, long-haired, white, biker outlaws; limp-wristed, effeminate gays; inarticulate, dumb, blonde women.

Use of radical, ethnic, other group identifiers

Identification of a person as a member of any population group should be limited to those cases when that membership is essential for the reader’s complete understanding of the story; it should be done with great care so as not to perpetuate negative group stereotyping. When identifiers are used, it is important that the correct one be used. Some examples of identifiers: Hispanic, Jew, lesbian, Italian, person with AIDS (PWA), physically and mentally challenged, hearing and visually impaired.

False identity, stolen documents, concealed recording, eavesdropping

No editor shall misrepresent themselves as anything other than representatives of Axistive. In extraordinary circumstances, when an editor judges that the information cannot be obtained in any other way and the value of that information is of value to the reader, the editor may authorize a misrepresentation. Editors may not steal or knowingly receive stolen materials. Except in situations judged by an editor as extraordinary, an editor shall not record an interview or meeting without the interviewee’s permission or the obvious placement of a recording device (not hidden) at the start of the interview or meeting in which case the interviewee or newsmakers do not object and are aware of the presence of the recording device. Committing an illegal act of eavesdropping on a source is not allowed. State laws apply.

Granting and preserving confidentiality to sources

Do not promise confidentiality to a source without permission of the editor. Confidentiality should only be given if there is a real danger that physical, emotional or financial harm will come to the source if his or her name were revealed. The editor should have all the facts and the source’s name before the decision is made. The editor should know of any laws pertaining to the confidentiality and disclosure before a decision is made. Make every attempt to get the same information from another source who agrees to be named since the goal is to attribute all information to a specific source for all stories.

Anonymous sources

Generally, anonymous sources are not used. Information that comes from an unnamed or unknown source should not be used unless it can be verified through another, known source. If two independent sources verify the information and both are unnamed, an editor may decide to publish the information with careful consideration of the need for immediacy and the news value of the information. The source may be identified generally as one associated to an agency to give credibility to the information. (See confidentiality.) The danger exists that the reader may not believe the information if sources are not given; Axistive’s credibility may suffer; information obtained later from a named source and verified may disprove the information given by the unnamed or unknown source.

Corrections

If any error is found, Axistive is obligated to correct it as soon as possible.

Ownership of work

Regardless if an editor is paid or is a volunteer, Axistive “owns” the published and unpublished work done by editors if the work was done as an assignment. Ownership of unpublished work may revert to the editor at a certain time if the editor agrees with this arrangement. Axistive has unlimited use of the work. The act of voluntarily joining Axistive indicates approval of this policy.

Contests, honors

Axistive has a proprietary interest in the material it publishes. Thus, Axistive as a voting group or top editors are entitled to determine which entries will represent it in contests. This will avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest that may occur if editors were to win or accept awards from organizations they are assigned to cover. Awards presented to the staff as a whole or to Axistive generally become the property of Axistive. Individuals who win awards for work published in Axistive may accept the award and retain ownership of it.