Guiding Principlesand Policies
@RedLineProject | Posted: Sept. 17, 2021
The Red Line Project, produced by students in Mike Reilley's journalism classes at the University of Illinois-Chicago, are committed to journalistic integrity and credibility. Both are essential to its reputation as a trusted neighborhood news source in Chicago. This reputation is rooted in the conduct of our editorial staff.
As a digital publication striving for an audience-centered culture, we openly post our principles and policies on fairness, diversity, our reporting and editing process, corrections and much more. We take them seriously, and have linked them off multiple points of each of our stories. Besides what we list here, our reporters also adhere to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
We're college students, and we know we need to earn your trust. But if you doubt anything you read on this site, take the time to read this page on our guiding principles and policies. We take accuracy seriously. Our stories, data and multimedia are fact-checked, edited and vetted. As documenters of history's rough draft, we admit when we've made a mistake and move quickly to correct them.
The credibility of the stories and multimedia you find on this site rests on solid research, clear, intelligent writing and maintaining a reputation for honesty, accuracy, fairness and balance. To these ends, the following rules and principles apply:
As journalists working to ensure balance and fairness, we strive to:
We train our reporters in good interviewing tactics. The reporters must identify themselves and get your permission to record the interview, and make it clear that what you say will appear on RedLineProject.org and our various social platforms.
During or before an interview, you have the right to:
Interviewees do not typically have the right to:
We have a commitment to "Show our Work" when working with data in our reporting. We provide links to the research and datasets we use in reporting a story. We link to datasets directly from our charts, maps and infographics.
We may run an explanatory story to show how the data was collected, cleaned, analyzed and visualized. We may share that process through a short video, audio interview with the reporter or a Twitter thread.
We also provide searchable databases, cite data sources and provide links to data portals so our readers can access the raw data. We also will provide conflicting data reports on various issues (COVID-19, etc.) when we discover it in our reporting, and tell the reader when we don't complete data.
Chicago is a city of neighborhoods -- 77 to be exact. And those neighborhoods blend together a rich mix of diversity in race, gender, age, sexual orientation and more.
Bias can present itself in everything from beat structure to headlines and cutlines to assignments, choice of sources, story and photo approach, play and organization. Bias can blind journalists to a full understanding of a subject and rob readers of important information.
The Red Line Project relies on established tools and safeguards against bias, among them maintaining a diverse staff, the use of multiple sources, multiple layers of editing to help ensure a complete report, and consistent staff training and education.
The most important safeguard, however, is a journalist’s humility before a subject and an understanding that no one person or entity holds the truth. One of our missions is to make our storytelling and our classroom inclusive on issues of race, gender, age and more.
Our faculty and students strive to create and maintain a working atmosphere where staffers can feel comfortable raising concerns about coverage they view as biased or otherwise offensive.
Our student reporters also work to find diverse sources in their reporting, both in people who are impacted by the issues we write about and expert sources.
As a rule The Red Line Project does not quote anonymous sources in our stories in an effort to be transparent. However, there are circumstances in which we may use s pseudonym for a source we feel we must protect. Typically, these are victims of assault or another crime, or as a critical part of the story that can't be confirmed through other sources or public documents.
Only the adviser/editor of the publication can guarantee anonymity and will protect that source's identity. While the student reporter may negotiate the anonymity, only the adviser/editor can guarantee it.
It's the Red Line Project's policy not to report on individual suicides unless the act is in a public place or involves a high-profile person. We do occasionally write stories about suicide as a mental health issue, talking to doctors, family members and others.
The Red Line Project staff strives to correct errors swiftly. If you see any error on our page, fill out this short form and we'll respond within 24 hours. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact Red Line Project adviser Mike Reilley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adviser Mike Reilley covers server costs and other fees associated with the site structure. UIC's Communication Department provides the classrooms, computers, software, cameras and other equipment the student journalists need to report the stories. Students receive grades and academic credit for their work on the site. The Red Line Project currently does not accept grant money, but did work with the McCormick Foundation in 2013-14 on a series of data-driven projects.
Credits: These policies were derived from TrustingNews.org, Seattle Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, San Francisco Chronicle, The Globe and Mail and our own blood, sweat and tears.
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