Fresnoland is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to making policy public by, for and with all residents of the central San Joaquin Valley.
But what separates the work that journalists at Fresnoland do from content created by others who help people understand the world around them? Often, it comes down to ethics – the rules and guidelines we follow to make sure our readers can trust us.
We don’t always get it right! But we’re inviting you – our community – to join us in this conversation and to hold us accountable when we don’t get it right. Have a question or concern? Send it to Danielle Bergstrom, Fresnoland’s executive director and managing editor, at email@example.com.
Does Fresnoland take political positions?
No. As a nonprofit, we’re actually not allowed to endorse candidates for political office. But beyond that, we have chosen not to take positions on ballot measures or any other local policy issue.
You won’t see our staff making donations or volunteering for political campaigns, hosting a lawn sign, or showing up at a political fundraiser (unless we’re covering it).
Our role isn’t to advocate for policies, but rather to investigate what isn’t working, and what is.
That being said, we live in an era where being ‘political’ means many things to many people. For some, owning an identity as a queer or undocumented or Black person is a political act. We openly acknowledge that our identities and class status inform how we see and experience the world.
Our staff may participate in protests and other demonstrations where they can express their political views – as long as it doesn’t interfere with their ability to cover their beat fairly.
How does Fresnoland stay independent from its donors?
Fresnoland staff have full editorial independence – meaning, no donors, sources, or board members are allowed to assign stories nor review them prior to publication.
Our donors do not influence how we cover stories. We do, however, allow our donors to fund certain beats, such as ‘housing’ or ‘government accountability’. If a funder commissions a specific series of stories, the series will include recognition to the funder at the top of the story.
We don’t produce paid or sponsored content. And just because we accept a grant or donation from an entity does not imply that we endorse their products, services, or opinions on any given topic.
Finally, we publicly disclose all of our donors over $1,000.
Does Fresnoland accept money from government officials?
We generally do not consider it a good practice to accept money from entities that we cover – especially local government. We don’t solicit money from government officials and we don’t apply for or accept government grants.
How does Fresnoland make sure their stories are accurate?
During our reporting process, we try to talk to as many direct sources as possible and never rely on second-hand information. We take care to record all conversations (with consent) to ensure our quotes are accurate.
If someone is accused of something in our reporting, we give the person an opportunity to respond to the allegation, prior to publication.
If a source would like, our reporters will review their quotes with them to make sure they’re quoted accurately. We don’t share the quote in context, nor do we give sources – or anyone outside of the editorial team – the story before it’s been published.
Our editorial team fact-checks stories before they’re published.
How does Fresnoland make corrections?
First – if you spot an error, say something. Our editorial team takes pride in being accurate, and we don’t like to convey misinformation.
If you notify us of an error, we’ll correct the information immediately. If the correction is substantive, we’ll put a note at the top of the story, and say something on Twitter.
What are Fresnoland’s ethics around sources?
We grant anonymity to sources who are in fear of serious harm or retaliation. This includes sources who are undocumented and could face deportation, if their identity is revealed. Otherwise, we will not grant anonymity.
Fresnoland works to have ethical and trauma-informed relationships with our sources, ensuring that our sources understand the implications of going on the record with the information they’re sharing. We acknowledge that we don’t always get it right, and invite conversations by sources to improve this dynamic.
We never pay our sources, nor accept gifts or benefits from them, either.
And while we talk to our sources often – we work to avoid maintaining close personal relationships with them, too.