Virginian Pilot Ethics Policy

One of the few public newspaper policies with online-specific components. They include:

Use of Internet sources

• Verify all facts reported from an online site unless you are confident of its source. For instance, the official Pulitzer Prize Web site can be regarded as a reliable source for names of past winners; a trade association site may not be.

• If using a source via Internet or e-mail, verify the source by phone or in person. Make certain a communication is genuine before using it.

• Generally, credit photos and graphics downloaded from the Internet. Usually, generic mug shots and icons do not need credits.

Researching the Internet

• Internet-derived information should be attributed, just as we would information from any book, magazine or other publication. Our prohibition against plagiarism applies to this information.

• Linking to Web sites from a story ? Always review Web sites listed in stories. If you have concerns about including a site in a story because of inappropriate content, check with an editor.

Internet communication

• Use the same standards of representation as you would using the telephone or in person. Using deceptive methods to gain information, including the failure to reveal one’s identity as a journalist while using a computer or the use of false identification to obtain access to computer systems, is corrosive to truth telling.

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