This is a living document maintained by The Stanford Daily to provide an overview of our guiding principles. This document is not meant to establish hard-set rules, as it would be impossible for us to predict every possible situation that might arise in our work.
Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
Many Stanford students are involved in a variety of campus organizations, internships and other groups during their time at the University. The Daily understands this and does not want to turn prospective staffers away for being involved elsewhere in the community. That being said, News staffers and those who collaborate with them on work for The Daily are to avoid conflicts of interest.
For instance, News staffers are to avoid covering partisan issues they are vocal about, such as politics, demonstrations and other social action. This does not mean News staffers cannot vote in elections. However, it does mean that a staffer who is in Stanford Democrats, Stanford College Republicans or another similar organization should not author a News article about U.S. politics.
Furthermore, students involved with any other campus organizations are not to cover that organization nor any activities in which it is significantly involved. This extends to jobs, research positions, etc. held by the staffer or any member of their family.
Daily editors, especially News editors, are to avoid involvement in any student organizations that take action and/or express views on partisan issues. This helps them avoid potential conflicts of interest in any coverage that is delivered to them for edits.
No Daily staffer may simultaneously serve in the Opinions and News sections without approval from The Daily’s Editor-in-Chief. News coverage should not be assigned to someone who has ever expressed an opinion about that same area of coverage in The Daily’s Opinions section.
Daily News staffers should also refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything that reflects bias or favoritism with regard to controversial issues. Making fun of Cal is okay.
There are many steps we take to cover things fairly, including but not limited to the following:
1. All facts of major significance and relevance to an article should be included in it.
2. When an assertion is made by a source about a specific person or organization, they should be contacted and given a reasonable amount of time to respond before publication.
3. No member of The Daily’s News section should give their opinion on an issue in a Daily News article, whether they are an author of the piece or a source of information in it, unless their comment is essential to providing a complete picture of the subject being covered (e.g. a Daily reporter was the lone victim of a crime).
Treatment of Sources
We believe in treating sources with empathy and fairness. When speaking with sources, we identify ourselves as Daily staffers and clarify why we would like to hold an interview. We also work with the source to set the terms of the interview, explaining any of those terms as needed before the interview begins (see interview policies below).
In published content, we put our sources’ quotes into context, and — as appropriate — we clarify to our audience what question was being answered when a statement by a source was made.
We work to verify all factual information given to us by sources, not because we do not trust them, but because certainty is vital to reporting the facts. We never promise sources that we will cease additional reporting on a situation based on information that they give us.
When we choose not to identify someone by their full name in an article, we must explain to readers why.
We want our audience to receive information that is credible and useful to them. Named sources are more trustworthy than unnamed sources, and they can often provide more complete pictures of issues. We will always ask that a source speak with us on the record for the sake of our audience.
That being said, we realize that many sources are unwilling to reveal their identities publicly when it could cost them their jobs or expose them to ostracization or harm. Even in those cases, it is essential that The Daily’s top editors know the identity of the source in question. Otherwise, there can be no certainty about whether the source and their quotes were fabricated by a reporter. These same rules apply for letters to the editor and op-ed submissions to The Daily.
Sources for The Daily should not be surprised when they see their name published.
Reporters are also responsible for explaining any rules they aim to establish for an interview. When an interview is recorded, the discussion of those rules and both parties’ agreements to abide by them should also be recorded.
Below are The Daily’s definitions of different interview rules. These rules sometimes differ by publication, so it is especially important that The Daily’s definitions are understood.
On the record: All information and quotations are attributable to the source by their full name.
On background, or not for attribution: The Daily can use and quote any statements provided by the source but cannot attribute it using their full name. Instead, some other description that preserves the source’s confidentiality will be agreed upon by the source and the reporter. Examples include “a member of the Undergraduate Senate” and “a PWR instructor.”
Deep background: The information can be used in The Daily’s reporting and published, but without any quotes nor attribution to anyone. Since this does nothing to help readers understand where the information came from, we avoid the use of deep background.
Off the record: The information cannot be used for publication or in further reporting. (Under no circumstances can it be shared with anyone outside of The Daily unless independently verified).
Quotes and Attribution of Information
Facts and quotes that were not collected directly through Daily reporting must be attributed. Articles should clearly differentiate between what a reporter saw and heard first-hand and what a reporter obtained from other sources. Plagiarism is not permitted. It is The Daily’s policy to credit other publications that produce exclusive content we later cover.
We quote sources to accurately capture their words and intended meaning. We do not allow sources to change the rules governing specific quotations after they are shared with us.
We do not allow sources to change what was said in an interview either. A more acceptable alternative is to permit a source to add to a quotation and then explain the sequence to readers.
Sometimes it makes sense to share an article draft or a select portion of it with a source before publication to ensure accuracy. This requires the permission of The Daily’s Editor-in-Chief.
We strive for promptness in correcting all errors in material published on our digital platforms and in print. When we run a correction, our goal is to tell readers, as clearly and quickly as possible, what was wrong and what is correct.
Corrections to online material are added to the original post. If an alert is sent out with incorrect information, another alert will be sent with a correction and explanation of the error. If an error is pointed out in the comments, The Daily will reply to the comment after a correction is made. Print corrections are published in our newspaper each Monday.
When we issue corrections, we do not attribute blame to any individual Daily staffers.
Clarifications and Updates
In addition to corrections, we sometimes issue clarifications. This should happen when The Daily’s reporting is factually correct but conveyed with language that is not sufficiently clear. Whenever this is determined to be the case, we should promptly reword the offending content and add a clarification to explain what has been changed and what was wrong with the previous wording.
Separate from corrections and clarifications are updates. These should be added whenever The Daily receives new information that provides more detail to a report or adds a new perspective that was previously lacking. Updates can be used to note that we initially failed to seek a comment or response that has since been added to an article or to note that the information in an article is outdated, but a correction must be made if our initial reporting was incorrect in any way.
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