Ethics Statement for the Chicago Journal.

We'll lead off our Ethics Page with one of our favorite quotes:

“Preserve your independence of all demagogues and place-hunters and never submit to their dictation; write boldly and tell the truth fearlessly; criticize whatever is wrong, and denounce whatever is rotten in the administration of your local and state affairs, no matter how much it may offend the guilty or wound the would-be leaders of your party... Make an earnest and conscientious journal; establish its reputation for truth and reliability, frankness and independence. Never willfully deceive the people, or trifle with their confidence. Show that your journal is devoted to the advocacy and promotion of their temporal interests and moral welfare.”

  • Joseph Medill. May, 1869.

Say what you want about whether or not Medill personally lived up to those principles. Still, we like the sentiment.

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In truth, we did not set out to make a website like the one you see now. Somewhere along the way our thought process changed, and we realized that what we were setting out to achieve had been conceived of long ago.

We adjusted our goals and our image of the world and began to reimagine the world in our image.

You see, for far, far too long, this Oxford Comma business has gone unsettled and we're here to finally put an end to the debate, once and for all.

Just kidding.

Below is the foundation of our approach to news and journalism.

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The Chicago Journal is a member of the journalism trade group the Associated Press, and we're working toward full organizational membership within the Society of Professional Journalists.

We subscribe to the Society of Professional Journalist's Code of Ethics.

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and a foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair, and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

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 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.

  • Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.

  • 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.

Minimize Harm

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 news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, 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. Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.

  • Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.

Act Independently

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.

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 SPJ Code of Ethics is a statement of abiding principles supported by additional explanations and position papers (at that address changing journalistic practices. It is not a set of rules, rather a guide that encourages all who engage in journalism to take responsibility for the information they provide, regardless of medium. The code should be read as a whole; individual principles should not be taken out of context. It is not, nor can it be under the First Amendment, legally enforceable.

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Corrections Policy

The Chicago Journal welcomes complaints about errors that warrant correction. Messages on news coverage can be e-mailed to editor(at) Comments on editorials may be e-mailed as letters to the editor to letters(at)

You can find more ways to contact the Chicago Journal on the following page: How to Contact the Chicago Journal.

Ownership and Funding

The Chicago Journal is owned and operated by Challenge Media, LLC.

Founded in 2016, Challenge Media, LLC is a unique startup that is uncompromising in its belief in creative and editorial independence. The company refuses to cater to outside shareholder investment or change course based on the whims of venture capital. The company refuses to rely on donations. While we do work with advertisers, annual budgetary decisions are made solely upon the readership/subscriber base.

We do all this to protect our publications. Strictly operating this way allows our business to remain committed to both our employees and our readership/subscriber base and it allows us and them greatest amount of freedom in thought and opinion.