The following code of ethics governs the work and editorial vision, behaviors, and standards of ThePLUG’s original content reporting and publishing. It is used as our guide for the operations set forth by ThePLUG’s digital newsroom for the purposes of establishing a standard of editorial excellence to ensure the highest quality of trust we provide our readers and partners.
ThePLUG Code of Ethics
We esteem ourselves to be a startup media company that does more than just tell positive, fluffy stories about blacks in technology. We are journalists committed to accurate, verifiable, and data-driven stories that matter to the analysis and public distillation of a segment of the technology and business sector that goes under-examined and under-reported.
As a new organization, we are moving from the daily aggregation of news and research content and into originally reported stories. To earn and keep the trust of new subscribers, we must consistently and doggedly produce stories that are of high-caliber, meeting the standards of writing one would find in the Wall Street Journal, Wired, The New York Times, The Economist, and other long-time reputable news publications.
With this standard, we endeavor to build prominence in the space of black tech news reporting. This means that we live by the high standards of getting stories right, reporting fairly, attributing our sources and citing information we use, maintaining truthfulness in every story and video we publish, and practicing relentless due diligence in our reporting process.
There are several non-negotiables we adhere to in our work:
- We do not pay for interviews;
- We do not exchange feature stories for product, trips, expensive meals, or compensation of any sort;
- We disclose any personal relationships we may have with our sources or companies we cover (i.e. stock ownership in a company, former employment with a CEO);
We believe that journalism is a profession of truth and we believe in taking great care in honoring the integrity of the values of great journalism.
It is critical that we get our stories right. As newcomers to the publishing industry, establishing credibility means getting the story straight every time.
We borrow our code of ethics on accuracy from the Society of Professional Journalists, verifying information before we release it to our readers, fact-checking at every turn.
We use original sources (not anonymous) at all times to provide context and prove the reliability of our information and judgment of motivations.
We use data, when available, and seek out strong analysis and expert verification of our findings before publishing stories publicly.
Every black tech founder, investor, company, product, or launch we report on must go through a diligent reporting process. We report openly and fairly on our sources and their companies. We give company representatives time to respond to any disparaging or conflicting statements or evidence we may discover in the reporting process, but we report all of the relevant facts in light of our personal opinions toward said company and/or its representatives.
Though we rely on the work of our original reporting to produce our stories, when we come across information or research that adds to our story, we appropriately attribute the work to the author(s) or institutions.
We correct mistakes or, when they happen, inaccurate details immediately and we let our readers know that the original error was updated to reflect accurate information.
We disclose any relationships (business or personal) we may have with the company in which we are reporting, and if necessary, recuse ourselves from reporting stories where we there is a clear conflict of interest that would compromise the integrity of the story.
We represent ourselves as journalists for ThePLUG to our sources, never misrepresenting our intentions behind interviews or covering our stories.
To sustain the daily activities and operations of our newsletter, we rely on partnerships with national and small businesses.
Every sponsored content story is marked clearly indicating that the post has been written in collaboration with an advertiser or sponsor partner.
REPORTING ON DIVERSE COMMUNITIES
We are hyper-aware that language can be used to weaponize or empower communities. It is our goal to always report in the tone of the latter. Because we are focused on covering diverse innovators, the communities in which they live and work, we are committed to using language and references that are sensitive and considerate of those that are different from us. Thus, we utilize a variety of style guides in our reporting, particularly when covering gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disabilities, race, and mental health.
These style guides are derived from the aggregated site DiversityStyleGuides.com—a project of the Society of Professional Journalists with guides drawn from a plethora of professional journalist associations, including the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Asian Journalists, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Religion Newswriters Association among others.
Social Media Guidelines
We encourage reporters and editors to engage thoughtfully on social media, and behave appropriately as a representative of ThePLUG. While we have no formal restrictions on online communication, we do ask the following:
- Stories written for ThePLUG are promoted via personal social media channels;
- Reporting is not shared online for exclusive stories that are being developed for ThePLUG;
- Public debates/disagreements with sources are handled in-house and not on social media;