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Ethics Policy

Pool Magazine is committed to the highest ethical standards. Fairness and accuracy are among our core values. But nothing stands above the need to maintain our integrity. The public’s trust — our most important asset — depends on it.

This document provides general guidance to Pool Magazine staffers on the many difficult ethical questions that arise in the course of doing our jobs. But because not every situation can be anticipated, it is useful to keep two particular guidelines in mind.

Professional Activities and Standards

FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY

Pool Magazine strives to operate with fairness, accuracy and independence. To that end:

  • Whenever possible, we seek opposing views and solicit responses from those whose conduct is questioned in news stories.
  • Errors, whether made by the reporter, editor or source, are acknowledged promptly in a straightforward correction, not disguised or glossed over in a follow-up story. Corrections explain, where misinterpretations may have occured.
  • Reporters or photographers identify themselves to news sources. In the rare instance when circumstances suggest not identifying ourselves, a senior editor must be consulted for approval.
  • We do not plagiarize, whether it is the wholesale lifting of someone else’s writing or the publication of a press release as news without attribution. We provide photo credit and source credit where applicable.

UNIDENTIFIED SOURCES

We attribute information to unnamed sources only when news value warrants and it cannot be obtained any other way.

When forced to rely on unnamed sources, we avoid letting them be the sole basis for a story. We do not allow unnamed sources to make personal attacks.

We describe the unnamed source in as much detail as possible to indicate the source’s credibility. Simply attributing a comment to “a source” is inadequate.

Additionally, whenever possible readers are told the reason the source requested or was given anonymity.

A reporter must identify any unnamed source to his or her editor, and the editor must bring the story to a senior editor for discussion and approval.

To the extent possible, we apply our own standards regarding unnamed sources when we publish stories produced by other news organizations, wire services, blogs or independent journalists. If these stories conflict with our policy on unattributed sources, we try to contact the originating news agency for more information. When we rely on information distributed via social media, we verify the identity of the poster.

QUOTATIONS AND ATTRIBUTION

Quotations are always be the exact words that someone spoke, with the exception of minor corrections in grammar and syntax. Parentheses and ellipses within quotations are rarely appropriate and can almost always be avoided.

We generally explain when a quote was received in a manner other than an interview: via e-mail, in a prepared statement, in a televised press conference. If we conduct an interview through a translator, we identify quotes received in that manner.

We do not make it sound as if a source made a statement to our reporter if it came to us through a third party.

BYLINES, DATELINES AND CREDIT LINES

Bylines, datelines and credit lines accurately convey to readers the source of our reporting.

In multiple bylines, the first name is generally that of the reporter who wrote the article or contributed the largest portion of it. We treat material from other news organizations the same way.

When a reporter writes an article based in part on wire service reports, the article carries the reporter’s byline and credits the wire service in a tagline. If the reporter independently reports the facts of the story, the byline can stand alone. If the reporter simply inserts local material, the byline should be the originating source with a reporter’s credit in a tagline.

When adding a quote from another news organization, particularly if it is exclusive information or an anonymous quote, indicate the source: “Bush isn’t going to run for re-election,” a senior administration official told the Washington Post.

MEALS, TICKETS, TRAVEL POLICY

As a general rule, we pay our own way.

We pay for meals and drinks shared with news sources and for meals that are covered as news events. When the cost of a meal includes a sum tacked on to raise funds, we will pay only what we estimate to be the price of the meal.

When complimentary meals are supplied at press events, staff members calculate about how much their portions cost and attempt to reimburse the coordinator of the event.

Staff members accept free admission to junkets, corporate events and other industry events and corporation events only for the purpose of reviewing or covering them for our publications.

We pay for transportation and other expenses necessary for the performance of professional duties when possible, including travel on the plane of a corporation or manufacturer. In cases where this policy may interfere with our ability to gather news, consult a senior editor.

GIFTS AND SAMPLE PRODUCTS

Employees may not accept or solicit business-connected gifts or free services. Items received whose value is greater than $25 should be returned or donated to a charity. Items of token or insignificant value (under $25), such as calendars, pencils or key chains, may be accepted if returning them would be awkward. Books, compact discs, sample food products, software or other items sent to us for review purposes are accepted as news releases. These items may never be sold for personal profit.

Online and Outside Activities

CREDIBILITY AND CONFLICTS

Staff members should avoid online and real-world activities that could conflict with their jobs.

In an age when everyone shares everything — particularly on social media — staff members must be mindful that espousing viewpoints on public issues in public forums casts doubt on their impartiality and the news organization’s credibility. To our audience, what we post online — even on an ostensibly private social network — is the equivalent of news reporting, and should follow the same rules. Whether it’s a tweet, a response to a reader comment, or an in-depth story, online content must be fair and balanced, and it ought to avoid overt expressions of opinion, unless offering opinion is an explicit part of a staffer’s job.

FINANCIAL HOLDINGS

Employees should not have a financial connection to anything they cover, whether it be owning stock or other form of investment, holding an outside job, or receiving a fee for service or preferential treatment that has an economic value. Conflicts involving the financial interests of spouses or close family members should also be avoided. Any situation that might pose a conflict of interest must be discussed in advance with a senior editor.

FREELANCING

Freelancing by staff members is permissible, with some restrictions. Staffers may not work for media that are in direct competition with our products. Direct competition is defined as to the following news publications: Pool & Spa News, PoolPro Mag, Aqua Magazine and Luxury Pools + Outoor Living are also considered direct competitors, as are their Web sites.

Freelance work must be performed outside of regular work hours. For reporters who cover news beats during the day, that might mean reporting and writing at night or on days off.

Our staffers must not scoop our news organization. Breaking news, enterprise stories and noteworthy items about the people and organizations we cover must be reserved for this organization.

Information published by Pool Magazine may be recast to appear in a national publication. The writer should be identified as a Pool Magazine staffer and a senior editor must be notified when staffers use the news organization for identification purposes in freelance work, even for a publication that is not a direct competitor.

When freelancing for a print publication, it is important not to allow the publisher to automatically claim online rights. There are cases where a print publication does not compete with the paper, but the publication’s online site does. Check with a senior editor before granting online rights.

RADIO AND TELEVISION

Staffers asked to appear on shows, publications, or events where the appearance is related to the staffer’s area of expertise should obtain the approval of a senior editor. The guest must be clearly identified as a staffer of Pool Magazine.

HONORARIUMS

When invited, Pool Magazine staff members are permitted to speak before trade groups, community organizations. Instances where a staff member will be permitted to accept expenses or fees as part of a speaking engagement will be decided on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a managing editor or the executive editor, using ethics — not economics — as the overriding factor. If the presentation is a professional seminar before a group of peers, staff members are permitted to accept expenses for travel.

CONNECTIONS

Employees shall not use their positions with Pool Magazine to get any benefit or advantage in commercial transactions or personal business for themselves, their families, friends or acquaintances.

Employees shall not use the company name, reputation, phone number or stationery to imply a threat of retaliation or pressure, to curry favor or to seek personal gain.

RELATIONSHIPS

Employees shall not write, photograph, illustrate or make news judgments about anyone related to them by blood or marriage, or with whom they have a close personal relationship or a business relationship. This does not apply to first-person stories or stories in which the relationships are clearly spelled out.

VIOLATIONS

Senior editors will take a constructive rather than punitive approach to potential violations whenever appropriate. All incidents, however, will be need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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