The CU Independent staff will follow the ethics code of the Society of Professional Journalists. In addition, the CU Independent will follow these ethical standards:
Anonymous or unnamed sources will not be used unless approved by the editor, who in turn will have the approval of the managing editor staff. The editor will consider whether the information could be obtained by other means and whether the information is necessary for the public to know. If it is decided to use an anonymous source, the editor and managing editors will know the source’s true identity.
Writers will not use any artificial intelligence, including Chat GPT, in the creation, reporting process or production of any written or visual content.
Conflicts of interest
Staff members must avoid covering beats with which they are directly involved. They must not use stories or photographs to promote people or organizations with which they have a personal relationship. Staff members cannot write or edit stories about groups or events of which they are a part.
It is the policy of the CU Independent to promptly correct factual errors and clarify confusing statements. If a story is altered following its initial online publication, it will include an editor’s note explaining the change and time of update. Factual errors, including misspelling names will be subject to this policy. Style and grammar errors are exempt as determined by the managing editors.
The CU Independent will report news about robberies, burglaries, murders, sex assaults or other crimes that are relevant to the University of Colorado Boulder. Victims of sexual assault will not be named without the express consent of the victim. Victims of crimes not of a sexual nature may be named. Crime suspects may be named after they have been charged, or their identity has been obtained from a public document and only with extreme care in order to avoid libel. Individuals who are well-known or hold positions of power (public figures) may be named if they are arrested.
Gifts, meals and tickets
The staff will not accept money from sources or organizations. Staff members should also avoid accepting gifts and meals. Because The CU Independent is on a limited budget, tickets may be accepted free for reviews or news articles but will not influence the writer’s perspective on the story or review.
Reporters must identify themselves as working for The CU Independent when working on articles to be published.
Because The CU Independent serves a primarily student-based audience, obscene language may be used with care. Obscenity may be used if it is necessary for a story. Necessity will be determined with a section editor. One should not use obscenity for the sake of obscenity; when at all possible, write around the obscenity. If an obscene word is part of a quote, The CU Independent does not play the hangman game by dropping particular letters of the word. Instead, “(expletive)” should be substituted for the word or phrase in question.
On the record, off the record
It is essential to be clear with your source at all times whether information can be published – and it is essential that they are clear with you. Sources must make it clear that a conversation or a statement is off the record before it begins; otherwise, the information is on the record. If a conversation or statement is made off the record, reporters should tell the source immediately afterward that the conversation is back on the record. The reporter should do all that they can to ensure both source and reporter are clear at all times about the status of a conversation.
Photos must not be altered unless approved by the editor. Any photo alterations or graphic illustrations must be clearly marked as such. Photos should never be staged, unless they are posed portraits, in which case the caption must mention that the photo is posed. If someone is easily identifiable, their full name must be included in the caption. If photographing on private property, photographers must ask permission to photograph. If photographing on public property, photographers will make a reasonable effort to get permission from subjects.
Staff members of The CU Independent should not sign petitions, support campaigns or take sides on other campus issues while part of the staff. Staff members should be particularly cautious with regard to social media pages, and should not identify political causes or groups which they support on such pages. Reporters attending student government meetings must not participate.
University administrators or others outside the student news staff will not review stories before they are published. Reporters may confirm direct quotes or technical information with sources but must not make promises in regard to how the story will appear when published. Sources will also not review stories before they are published; reporters should make clear to the sources that the news staff retains control over the content.
Reporters will tell sources when they are being recorded or videotaped and will inform sources that the information could be published. More care will be exercised with sources who are not accustomed to working with the media.
This campus reflects a wide diversity of culture, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual identification and political beliefs. It is our responsibility to represent the views of as wide a spectrum of all people as possible. Stories will contain no less than two sources, and they should reflect differences in background and beliefs.
Suicides should be treated with sensitivity in regard to the language used by the reporter. The preferred term is to say that a student “committed suicide,” as opposed to more euphemistic terms. Any reports of a suicide must be confirmed with legal authorities. The story will emphasize information that memorializes the person, unless the incident causes a major disruption of campus activities. Those who lose their lives to suicide will be named in stories. Attempted suicide will not be reported except under circumstances approved by the editor. Those who attempt suicide will not be named in stories.
Reporters must check with the editor before using information from the Internet, news broadcasts and other newspapers. Every effort should be made to verify information independently. Efforts also should be made to verify information from press releases.