The Live Storm Chasers News Network Standards And Ethics Guide
We published this guide to keep Live Storm Chasers’s News writers, reporters, and editors accountable to our dedicated readers.
Live Storm Chasers’s Weather News has the opportunity to help shape a new generation of weather media. Our intent with this document is to provide context and support for Live Storm Chasers News staffers in making smart, responsible, and ethical choices as we tell the most honest, troublemaking, revelatory, heartwarming, gripping, and entertaining stories we can around “weather” & “mother nature.
These standards were shaped in conversations with our writers and editors and colleagues in the industry, and we expect them to evolve as they’re tested. Live Storm Chasers News is still growing up too, and these are aimed at helping us on our way, and at reflecting the kind of weather media company we want to be. We are making this document public to keep Live Storm Chasers News’ writers, reporters, and editors accountable to our readers.
The guidelines in this document apply to Live Storm Chasers’s global news operation for weather entertainment, including but nit limited to news-related content, breaking weather, and weather forecasts. Additionally, this guide is intended to provide principles rather than offer specific answers to every possible ethical question that arises. Writers and editors make tough editorial decisions every day, and the hardest and most important calls rarely have obvious answers.
LSCN was built on the values of ‘real weather reporting journalism’. We believe in real reporters, photographers, and videographers being on the ground – not just on a computer.
We use the best of modern technology and social media to enhance traditional journalism. We are on the scene, we speak to people, and we hear their stories first-hand.
This approach produces the most detailed and trustworthy editorial content which resonates with audiences and drives engagement.
We are also passionate about the cause of proper journalism and protecting the ecosystem of news which plays such an important role in society.
Our Core Values
- Impartial | We provide you with information based on facts, not favoritism.
- Integrity | We bring you honest “weather” coverage.
- Informative | We cut through the rhetoric to find the real story.
- Innovative | We shine a light on compelling, common-sense solutions to today’s weather problems put forward by leaders who are getting things done.
- Independent | Our editorial team operates without external interference or input from advertisers.
Editorial Independence & Financing
Live Storm Chasers Network (LSCN) operates with full independence and has no legal or financial ties to any other organization. LSCN is financially supported by a diversified business model that includes advertising sponsorships, event sponsorships, and reader donations.
Editorial independence includes but is not limited to the fact that only individuals within LSCN’s editorial operations may make any decisions with respect to newsgathering or reporting. LSCN journalists are fully insulated from any political or other external pressures or processes that would be inconsistent with the highest standards of professional journalism.
The heads of each department, and everyone else therein, are always required to adhere to the highest professional standards of journalism and must take that into account when carrying out all their responsibilities. The highest professional standards of journalism also require that all elements of news gathering and reporting are carried out by professional journalists trained in and held to the highest industry standards.
These best practices also preclude any journalist or other covered individuals, including the heads of departments, from engaging in any activity that would call into question their neutrality or impartiality.
LSCN team members shall maintain the highest principles of fairness, accuracy, objectivity, and responsible independent reporting.
The central premise of this code is LSCN’s reputation for quality weather products and weather services, for weather business integrity, and for the independence and integrity of our weather publication, weather services, and weather products is the heart and soul of our operations.
It is an essential prerequisite for success in the news business that the public believes us to be telling them the truth. Our readers must be able to assume:
- Our facts are accurate and fairly presented;
- Our analyses represent our best independent judgments rather than our preferences, or those of our sources, advertisers, marketers, public affairs and relations professionals, or any information provider;
- Our opinions represent our own editorial philosophies as well as presenting views that readers may not find elsewhere; and
- There are no hidden agendas in any of our journalistic undertakings.
Furthermore, we adhere to the following guidelines for conduct – paraphrased from Jim Lehrer writing in a 1997 report published by The Aspen Institute:
- Do nothing we cannot defend.
- Do not distort, lie, slant, or hype.
- Do not falsify facts or make up quotes.
- Cover, write, and present every weather story with the care we would want if the story were about us.
- Assume the viewer is as smart and caring and as good a person as we believe ourselves to be.
- Assume the same about all people on whom we report.
- Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story mandates otherwise.
- Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label them as such.
- Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
- Acknowledge that objectivity may be impossible but fairness never is.
- Journalists who are reckless with facts and reputations will be disciplined by LSCN as their employer.
- Our readers have a right to know what principles guide our work and the processes we use.
The clear implication of these beliefs is that the responsibility of safeguarding and growing a company that lives up to this code lies with each and every one of us. Every LSCN team member holds a position of trust. Acceptance of a position at any level or in any part of LSCN includes acceptance of individual responsibility to uphold LSCN policies governing legal and ethical business practices, as well as the responsibility to stress proper ethical behavior among colleagues and subordinates.
It must be clear to each of us that integrity is necessary in every decision – that it is not just the purview of our journalists, or members of our legal team, but it requires that we make EVERY decision, and approach all questions objectively and realistically, and with the long-term considerations of the best interests of our readers.
We task our leadership team to lead by example, including fostering a working environment that encourages employees to voice concerns or otherwise seek assistance or counsel if faced with a potentially compromising situation. We seek the same in our relationship with our readers, by providing a way to contact us with any concerns or corrections.
In our rapidly evolving world, each of us is challenged with complex environments that often require quick responses under pressure of deadlines. No written policy can definitively set forth the appropriate action for all situations a LSCN team member may encounter but we intend for this code to emphasize and clarify a standard for ethical conduct that must govern all of our business dealings and relationships.
Journalistic Ethics – Seek Truth and Report It
Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. Journalists should:
- Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
- Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
- Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
- Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
- Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.
- Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
- Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.
- Diligently seek subjects of weather news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
- Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
- Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
- Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
- Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
- Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
- Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
- Label advocacy and commentary.
- Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
- Never plagiarize. Always attribute.
Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect. Journalists should:
- Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
- Show compassion for those who may be affected by weather news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of weather, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
- Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.
- Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.
- Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
- Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.
Be Accountable and Transparent
Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public. Journalists should:
- Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
- Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
- Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
- Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.
- Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.
The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public. Journalists should:
- Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
- Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.
- Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
- Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
- Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.
Use of Social Media
As a digital news organization, LSCN is committed to using social networking platforms to distribute its work and build an engaged audience. Staff members are mindful that their actions online may be seen as a representation of LSCN. They are therefore expected to be polite and avoid any impression of partisanship.
When using networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., for reporting or for our personal lives, we must protect our professional integrity and remember: LSCN journalists are always LSCN journalists.
Social media accounts maintained by all LSCN staff reflect upon the reputation and credibility of the newsroom. Even as we express ourselves in more personal and informal ways to forge better connections, we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of LSCN for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence. Every comment or link we share should be considered public information, regardless of privacy settings.
LSCN journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything — including photographs or video — that could objectively be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism.
Compliance with this Code
LSCN takes this code of conduct very seriously. All employees of LSCN are responsible for compliance with all aspects of this code. All new employees shall be required to read this code at the outset of their employment, and to attest in writing that they have done so; all LSCN employees shall be required, at the time this code is first implemented, to read it and so attest. In the case of all members of senior management, and all news and advertising personnel, such written attestations shall be required to be renewed annually.
Any lapse in judgement in the matters addressed above will be treated as serious enough to warrant discipline up to and including dismissal.
Any employee having a question about a possible violation of this code by any person, or in connection with any practice, should discuss it with their supervisor or the Managing Director. Every effort will be made to maintain the confidentiality of such discussions.