Anyone today can publish, broadcast or display information to an audience. What sets us apart as journalists is the degree of professionalism we bring to the task. At MPR News, we're determined that our journalism will reflect the highest professional standards. At the core of those standards will be our ethics guidelines, linked below.
For people to trust the news and information we report, they must have faith in our integrity. We should never give them cause to doubt that our first loyalty is to the public – not to our bank accounts, our political agendas, our friends, our funders or any other cause or purpose. Public service should be the goal of any journalist, but it has special meaning for us, because we call ourselves "public media." We are here not to enrich owners but to inform the public, and we ask people from vast swaths of Minnesota to support us in that effort. They do so, in large and growing numbers, from Moorhead to Minneapolis, from Grand Marais to Granite Falls. And their support of our work gives them the right to demand that we adhere to the highest standards of our profession.
We expect MPR News journalists to use this document to guide their conduct and to hold themselves and each other accountable. We hope the public will use it to learn about the principles that shape our work and to judge whether we are living up to them. We also want the document to focus attention on the enduring values that govern our work, even as technology changes the form our work takes.
As those changes occur, new questions will arise. Only a few years ago, for example, we would have had no need of a policy that addressed social media. We can't foresee every eventuality, and we'll adapt this code as necessary. In the meantime, the principles behind these documents can provide better guidance than any list of rules would do.
The guidelines will be reviewed and refreshed regularly. Communication is paramount. When any of us has an ethical question or sees a potential ethical conflict or lapse, it is our job to bring it to the attention of newsroom leaders. We hope, too, that our audiences will ask a question when something doesn't seem right.
One of our principles is that we not become involved personally in the news we cover. Why the restraint? We believe that a democratic society depends on an informed public, and that an informed public depends on a free and independent press. We do participate in our democracy, in our way. This is how we do it.