Editorial Code of Ethics
Grid journalists strive to hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards. Our reporting is independent of the influence of any powerful institution. We make every effort to do rigorous reporting rooted in deep and diverse sourcing. We speak to people with power and those without it. We strive to find the best experts, not just the most prominent. We challenge sources to corroborate their claims. We look to identify our sources' motivations, obvious or ulterior, even when noble, and to disclose these motivations to our audience when we can. We strive to be fair in how we do our work, and treat our audience, our sources, and our colleagues with respect. We recognize that journalism ethics evolve. The tradition of objectivity is flawed, a reality that many of our peers in the industry are beginning to confront, and it has failed to deliver on the goal of fairness. That is our goal – to be fair. We acknowledge that we each carry experiences, identities and beliefs that shape how we see the world. We know that bias can seep into our work in invisible ways. We commit to following the best research on bias and challenge ourselves to mitigate it in our work. We commit to building a diverse, inclusive newsroom to widen the lens on what stories we deem important and how we tell those stories. We must earn the trust of our audience. This code is written to help us get there.
We are committed to the truth. We believe that there are knowable facts. We will assert them plainly to our audience when we can. When information isn't absolute, we will level with the audience. We won't assume all interpretations of uncertain facts are equal. We will give the audience contextual evidence to weigh them whenever possible. We will make every effort to mitigate implicit bias. We will be conscious of subtly pejorative words, such as "refused," "despite," "admit" and take care when using them. If evidence evolves, particularly in the realm of science, we will report those changes and explain what that evolution means. We will strive to keep our work updated to reflect new information that meets our editorial standards. We believe truth requires presenting a broad range of relevant facts and viewpoints. We commit to presenting the most complete picture possible in every assignment. We will try to contact as many relevant sources as we can identify and give them an opportunity to share their views. In particular, we will require reporters to make a good-faith effort to contact any subject who may be presented in a negative light and include their voice or position in the final product. We will apply the same standards whether the individual named is the subject of the piece or played a tangential role in the events covered. Our default position is to identify sources by name. We will try to locate sources willing to go on the record. When specific identification is not possible, we will describe the source as clearly as practicable, disclose their possible motivations, and explain why we are not naming them. Relying on unnamed sources for publication requires the approval of the executive editor.
Great journalism requires freedom from the influence of powerful institutions. Grid leadership will protect our independence ferociously, including, but not limited to the influence of any political, governmental, corporate, non-profit, or religious organization. Conflicts of interest, real or perceived, can come up in many areas. We will require our journalists to take rigorous steps to avoid personal conflicts of interest and disclose them when they cannot.
Grid focuses on identifying what we believe are the most significant issues facing our world and the forces shaping them. To do so, we put in the work: we report, we research, and we do our best to develop expertise. We work across beats to understand how stories intersect. We seek to give our audience a framework to understand these issues and the surrounding debates to draw conclusions for themselves. We may give more weight to some facts and arguments over others when our reporting supports them. Doing so is distinct from unsupported opinion. Grid will not publish arguments based solely on unsubstantiated claims or ad hominem personal attacks. Our reporting will not engage in advocacy. We will not endorse candidates, political parties, or any political or ideological movement. We will publish insightful analysis from practitioners and experts when supported by evidence and ensure our journalists take steps to fact-check their claims. We will strive to seek out sources with alternative points of view and include their contributions when they meet our editorial standards.
Grid pledge’s that our Board of Directors will include outside journalists and respected, independent executives who epitomize the highest ethical standards. These Board members will have authority over editorial policies and standards. We also pledge to maintain an internal process for reviewing and elevating complaints and concerns outside of the executive editor’s chain-of-command. Any employee, source, or member of the public who believes that there has been a violation of our editorial policy or ethical standards can communicate those concerns directly to the head of compliance. We will create a dedicated, secure email address for that purpose, and publicize it on our website together with our editorial standards.
Advertising and Sponsorships
Strict lines of authority will be maintained to allow our journalists to operate without interference, directly or indirectly, from advertisers, sponsors, or investors. The Board has committed to protecting editorial independence, and editorial leaders have the authority to take necessary steps to ensure newsroom independence. All advertisements and paid content will be labeled clearly on Grid’s website and any other Grid platform. All sponsors that pay or provide in-kind contributions to participate in events, virtual or in person, will be disclosed. Grid commits to disclosing any other paid relationships not covered in this description. Grid’s investors, sponsors, and advertisers will play no role in editorial decisions.
Conflicts of Interest
Grid believes journalists should be participants in civic life. At the same time, we recognize that maintaining the trust of our audience is paramount and avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest is the responsibility of all of our journalists and editorial employees. Our journalists may join or register to vote as a member of a political party, and we encourage all citizens to vote. Journalists may be active in local nonpartisan groups or other groups that will not be involved in issues that Grid will likely cover. In the event that any activity or affiliation presents a potential conflict of interest, which shall be determined by the executive editor in their sole discretion, the journalist will be required to immediately cease or withdraw. Journalists and editorial employees must disclose all of their affiliations, including those which do not appear to violate this policy. Journalists may not engage in political advocacy, which includes lobbying an elected official or advising (even informally) or raising money for a candidate, elected official, or advocacy group, or donate to a political party, committee, campaign, or candidate. They may not participate in rallies or other public political actions or run for office. They may not financially or otherwise support or endorse a group or organization that Grid may reasonably expect to cover, nor may they trade, or gamble based on, or otherwise use for personal benefit, any non-public information obtained in the course of newsgathering. Reporters who cover companies and markets should be particularly mindful of the potential for conflicts of interest to arise in personal investment decisions and must under this policy disclose the ownership of any individual stock to and receive approval to continue to own it from the executive editor. Journalists will not accept gifts from sources, including meals, trips or tickets to shows, unless the event has a dedicated section for media, or it is necessary to effectively report a story. The executive editor must approve any exceptions on journalistic grounds. We do not require all of Grid's family members to follow these guidelines, but employees must disclose any potential conflicts of interest by immediate family members (including spouses/domestic partners, children, and any other family member living in the same household), and such conflicts may impact the subject matter the employee is permitted to cover and/or be required to be disclosed in the employee’s work. Journalists should try to avoid using individuals with whom they have personal relationships as sources and may not do so without permission from the executive editor. Grid will disclose any known ties to its investors or Board Members if they are presented in a story.
Transparency & Credit
Grid seeks to avoid errors, but if we confirm that one has been made, it will be corrected quickly and transparently on our platforms. If the error appeared on other platforms, we would diligently attempt to correct it on those. Grid intends to produce original work, and it will not reproduce the work of others without customary credit. Plagiarism or intentionally providing or publishing false information or misleading the audience will not be tolerated.
Grid believes its journalists must develop a strong editorial voice and identity. We encourage employees to use the best of social media platforms to do so and to build an audience, to interact with sources, and identify new ones. We believe that social media can make our work better. We also recognize that social media platforms have their shortcomings. We encourage our writers to consider which platform will serve them best in any instance. A complex idea that requires a thoughtful explanation would be better explored on Grid’s website with the input of an editor, for example. Journalists have shown more of themselves, their personalities, and their tastes in the age of social media. Grid allows its journalists to be authentic on social media. Even just a few years ago, industry norms meant reporters were expected to refrain from sharing their experiences, backgrounds, and personalities with readers. That's changed. However, we do expect our reporters to comply with this Editorial Code, including and especially the Conflicts of Interest section, on social media. We expect our staff to represent Grid’s editorial standards and values, and to treat our audience, our sources, and our colleagues with respect and decency in all interactions. This standard extends to virtual lives. Everyone on staff must refrain from personal attacks of any kind (even in jest) on any digital platform or elsewhere. We will not tolerate digital harassment of or by our employees or journalists.