Our mission is to amplify authentic community voices while providing media literacy and skills, platforms and networks for local communities. We recruit, train, and support local community journalists to diversify media voices and develop media literacy among communities whose voices are lacking or misrepresented in mainstream media.
This mission demands that our readers and sources alike be able to have the utmost confidence in the accuracy of our journalism; the fairness of our reporting process; and the independence of our news judgments from the influence of advocates and financial supporters.
One way we protect our commitment to accuracy, integrity, and independence is by actively designing a business model that relies on diversified streams of support. Our revenue sources include major donations from charitable foundations, contributions from readers, paid sponsorships and ads on our magazines, website and email newsletters; paid sponsorships of our events; and paid media training, services, and products. We believe the more diverse our revenue sources, the more solid our independence and the stronger our prospects for long-term sustainability.
In addition to building a business model that bolsters our independence, we have also adopted a code of ethics to govern the conduct of our team members and those we work with. This code of ethics draws inspiration from those of other nonprofit news organisations.
Our code of ethics also reflects long standing values and standards of practice of the journalism profession. Exceptional circumstances may require exceptions to this code, and we will revise it as our experiences and norms in journalism and digital media evolve.
Journalism must be accurate, fair, and clear if readers are to trust it. To build trust, Mojatu journalists will:
- Check facts; correct errors transparently and swiftly; and learn from mistakes so that they aren’t repeated. If you find an error, email email@example.com.
- Never plagiarise and never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. (Plagiarism and deliberate distortion are grounds for discipline, including termination.)
- Identify the sources of their reporting, whether the information comes from people, documents, or exclusive reporting that appeared elsewhere.
Seek independent verification from multiple sources to confirm (or contradict) claims, especially those made by public officials or anyone with an agenda beyond merely reporting the truth.
- Work to the best of their ability to assess evidence and claims without bias, always examining ways in which personal experiences and values may shape our reporting.
- Provide context that readers need to make sense of the facts.
- Acknowledge areas of uncertainty, which will always exist despite our best efforts to resolve them.
COMPREHENSIVE, ETHICAL, AND TRANSPARENT NEWSGATHERING
Community reporting involves developing sources who do not interact frequently with journalists and who sometimes mistrust mainstream media. To ensure that we minimise harm while maximising truth, our journalists:
- Identify ourselves to sources openly and accurately, never misrepresenting ourselves to get a story. When we seek an interview, we identify ourselves as Mojatu Media Community journalists and explain how our reporting might be used.
- Avoid using unnamed sources whenever possible. When sources who are providing insights that others could also provide seek to keep their name out of our reporting, make every effort to speak to someone else.
- Recognise that some sources may be vulnerable to negative consequences of speaking to the press, and so it may be appropriate to cite unnamed sources when reporting about the effects of programmes, policies or social issues. Editors should make that call, and a story should never rely on a single unnamed source to provide such insights.
- Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects. In the case of writing about underage and vulnerable adults, our journalists will make every effort to reach the parents, guardians, or advocates in three cases: when they speak to a young person without an adult’s knowledge; when the the source will receive prominent attention in our story; and when a source is providing information that could reflect negatively on themselves or others.
- Explain why a source is not named when using an anonymous source is unavoidable and appropriate, and negotiate with those sources to provide readers with as much information as possible about them so that readers can assess the sources’ reliability.
- Share information about sources with editors, so that editors and reporters can jointly assess whether and how to use the information they have provided. Any anonymous quotes must reflect conversation between a reporter and editor.
- Have clear conversations with sources about how to use the information they provide, especially when the sources do not have significant media experience. Clarify a source’s expectations for keeping information “off the record,” “on background,” and other statuses because those terms can mean different things to different people.
- Give people the right to respond to reporting that might portray them in a negative light, and explain to readers the efforts we went to seek a response in cases where sources do not respond.
- Actively seek sources who lack access to broad public platforms, in addition to documenting the claims of those with influence and power.
REFLECT OUR INDEPENDENT CONCLUSIONS
Some debates can be highly polarised, and Mojatu provides balanced, unbiased, fact-based coverage aimed at informing the public conversation. To ensure that we remain independent and trustworthy, Mojatu team members involved in newsgathering, shaping stories, or overall programme strategy will not:
- Seek or accept secondary employment, political involvement, and other outside activities that could compromise integrity or cause the perception of compromised integrity.
- Accept gifts, favours, fees, free travel, and special treatment from sources and potential sources. When attending events or conferences put on by sources or potential sources that offer free gift bags, reporters should decline to take any item of more than nominal value.
- Pay for access to news, either with money or other favours.
- Work on stories, projects, or initiatives in which they have a personal connection, vested interest or financial interest. This policy extends to the involvement and activities of a business partner, spouse, or domestic partner. In cases where reporters have an indirect personal connection to a story, we will always err on the side of disclosing to let readers make an independent judgement.
- Give favoured treatment to sponsors and donors. Team members will resist pressure from inside or outside Mojatu to influence coverage because of an advocacy agenda or financial need.
Additionally, Mojatu team members will:
Disclose the relationship whenever we produce stories that involve Mojatu board members or financial supporters who have given more than £1,000. When these situations arise, editors and reporters are responsible for identifying the conflict and producing a disclosure.
Adhere to principles that protect our journalism from the influence of sponsors and donors, as outlined below.
OUR DONORS AND SPONSORS DO NOT INFLUENCE OUR REPORTING.
Mojatu is open to a wide range of financial support because we believe the more diverse our revenue sources, the more solid our independence. We have adopted a set of principles that enable us to accept this support while safeguarding our reporting from the influence of our supporters.
- Major contributions from foundations and individuals: Accepting funds from foundations and individuals is a necessity for Mojatu’s financial viability, but those who contribute do so knowing that our only duty is to our mission. In some cases, we accept funding to cover certain topics, if we were going to cover those topics anyway. We never accept funding for specific story ideas. Feedback from major supporters is treated like that of any entity: we listen to the feedback, but ultimately, decisions about our editorial direction are Mojatu alone. We recognise that foundations are sometimes major players in the stories we cover, and we don’t shy away from covering these stories. When we cover the work of foundations that support Mojatu, we disclose the relationship for the sake of full transparency.
- As a news organisation that values transparency, Mojatu will always disclose the sources of gifts larger than £1,000 — both to staff and to readers.
- Website and newsletter sponsorships: Sponsors cannot influence our decisions about what to cover and how. We acknowledge sponsors on our websites and in our newsletters. We reserve the right to reject a sponsorship if we believe the content is misleading, fraudulent, or distasteful, and in no way does a sponsorship represent an endorsement from Mojatu. We require people-first language when referring to persons with disabilities and will not run sponsorships that reinforce negative racial, ethnic, or gender stereotypes. All content will be clearly labelled to be distinguishable from Mojatu’s editorial content.
- Event sponsorships: Event sponsors are recognised at events and in Mojatu’s marketing materials, but they do not co-create or influence event content. If sponsors make announcements or distribute materials at events, Mojatu will describe this as a paid sponsorship.
- Jobs board: Mojatu’s jobs board is a service to our community of readers. Job postings do not represent an endorsement from Mojatu of particular organisations, and the composition of postings on our jobs board does not, at any time, reflect our preferences or opinions.
- Donations from readers: Mojatu gladly accepts contributions from our readers. As with other donations, there is no expectation that supporting Mojatu will influence reporting decisions.
- Sponsored content and dedicated emails: Sponsors may also reach Mojatu readers in the form of sponsored articles on Mojatu magazines, Mojatu.com, dedicated emails , and social media contents. The views expressed in any sponsored content, whether articles or emails, do not reflect those of Mojatu, and sponsors have no role or influence in Mojatu’s editorial decisions. Mojatu Editorial staff has no involvement in writing this content. Mojatu will always identify the organisation paying for the content on the article page, within the email, and/or in any related social media promotion. When the sponsored content is an article about a Mojatu-specific promotion, such as a Mojatu contest, Mojatu will be listed as the sponsor and Mojatu’s logo will be displayed.
We acknowledge that new revenue strategies will be developed in the future that may require additional enumeration of relevant ethical policies. We assume, however, that the underlying principles will be the same, even as our strategies for serving our audience and generating revenue develop.