Our Policies

Our Policies

Matter News is a digital publication out of Grey Matter Media, an independent, nonprofit news organization that is fiscally sponsored by the Institute for Nonprofit News. The guidelines and policies below outline how our organization will handle donor transparency, editorial independence, conflicts of interest, advertising, equity and inclusion and more. If you have any questions, please send an email to hello@matternews.org.

Editorial Independence Policy

We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News:

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

Our organization may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

Our organization will make public all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with INN's Membership Standards.

Donor & Financial Transparency

We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News:

We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization.

Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals, organizations and foundations to help with our general operations, coverage of specific topics and special projects. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates as a public trust, we do not pay certain taxes. We may receive funds from standard government programs offered to nonprofits or similar businesses.

Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content.

We make public all revenue sources and donors who give $5,000 or more per year. As a news nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from anonymous sources, government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, deemed by our board of directors, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.

Our Editorial Ethics

Our editorial staff and contributors deeply believe that accurate and complete public information is key to a healthy democracy. We adhere to the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, outlined below.

Preamble

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

Seek Truth and Report It

Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

– Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.

– Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
– Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.

– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.

– Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.

– Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.

– Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.

– Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.

– Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.

– Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.

– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

– Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.

– Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.

– Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.

– Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.

– Label advocacy and commentary.

– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.

– Never plagiarize. Always attribute.


Minimize Harm

Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:

– Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.

– Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.

– Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.

– Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.

– Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.

– Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.

– Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.


Act Independently

The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.

Journalists should:

– Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

– Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.

– Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.

– Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.

– Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.


Be Accountable and Transparent

Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.

Journalists should:

– Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.

– Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.

– Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.

– Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.

– Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

For more detailed information on SPJ's Code of Ethics, visit their website.

Equity and Inclusion Statement

This news organization aims to reflect the diversity of the central Ohio communities it serves in its board, staff, contributors, as well as its editorial choices and priorities.

Both our leadership (board, managing directors, and editors) and our newsroom (contributors) have more gender and racial diversity amongst them than the general central Ohio public. We will begin publishing our newsroom and leadership demographics soon.

Privacy Policy

It is important to remember that visitors to our site understand what information we gather about them, how we use it, and how we work to protect it. By using our website, and/or signing up for services such as membership or our newsletter, you consent to information practices outlined in our Privacy Policy.


Information Collection

We track how our visitors use this site so that we can see what people like and don't like. We also analyze and aggregate information about use patterns and share the aggregated data with our advertisers (for example, we keep track of how many users see and click on particular advertisements). To be clear, we don’t share your personal data nor information with them.

We may also collect personal information about you via registration for newsletters, commenting, donations, membership and other areas. Where you have an opportunity to supply information about yourself you may choose not to provide requested information but in such cases you may not be able to use certain functions on this website.

We will not release your name, email address or any other personal information to anyone outside MatterNews.org without your consent, unless we are under a legal order to do so, or there is an emergency involving danger to a person or property. We will not provide our advertisers or anyone else outside MatterNews.Org with any information specific to you unless we have your consent.

If you chose to provide your personally identifiable information for the purposes of a third-party contest, survey or newsletter, your consent shall be deemed to be given for the release of your personally identifiable information with regard to that third party only, in addition to MatterNews.Org. Only authorized Grey Matter Media and Matter News employees or consultants are allowed access to personal information about you. Any employee or consultant who violates our privacy and security policies is subject to disciplinary action.

We occasionally have service contractors, third party agents, subsidiaries, affiliates, and joint ventures that perform functions on our behalf, including but not limited to credit card processing and website hosting. They have access to personal information needed to perform their functions, and are contractually obligated to maintain the confidentiality and security of the data. They are restricted from using or altering this data in anyway other than to provide the requested services to MatterNews.Org. In addition, we may always share, disclose, and transfer all information, postings, and any and all other personal and non-personal information we have collected to a successor-entity in the case of the sale of the assets of Grey Matter Media and Matter News, corporate reorganization, merger, change in control, or other similar transaction.

Remember that any information you share in public areas, such as the MatterNews.Org comments area, becomes public and therefore this Privacy Policy does not apply to any information you choose to make public. We encourage visitors to MatterNews.Org to be cautious about what they disclose and that they do not post any personal information that they expect to keep private. Personally Identifiable Information is information that can be used to contact you or determine your specific identity. If other information is linked to this information, it also becomes Personally Identifiable Information.


Use and Disclosure of Anonymous Information

Anonymous Information is any information other than Personally Identifiable Information, including aggregate information derived from Personally Identifiable Information.


MatterNews.org may use this information

To improve the MatterNews.Org website and service, to monitor traffic and general usage patterns, and for other general business purposes.

To inform publishers as to what content is appealing to readers, to inform advertisers of the usage habits or characteristics of the interested audience, and to advise potential donors so that they may better understand MatterNews.Org’s user base.


Cookies

A cookie is a small amount of data, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier that is sent to your browser from a web site's servers and stored on your computer. Each web site can send its own cookies to your browser if your browser's preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) most browsers only permit a web site to access the cookies that the same web site has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

MatterNews.Org may use cookies to identify you as a repeat visitor or customer of the website, to maintain session information for logged in users, and to track usage trends and patterns in order to better understand and improve areas of our website.

MatterNews.Org has no control over whether and how our advertisers use cookies that originate from their website. You are always free to decline our cookies if your browser permits, but you may not be able to take full advantage of our site's features.

We may use third-party advertising companies to serve ads on our behalf. These companies may employ cookies and action tags to measure advertising effectiveness. All computers and servers on the internet use IP addresses to recognize and communicate with each other. We collect IP addresses to administer and analyze our site and report aggregate, non-personal information (such as how many visitors we have). When you call up our site on your computer, our servers enter the IP address of that computer into a log. To maintain our users' anonymity, we do not associate IP addresses with records containing personal information.

We do not and cannot use cookies or IP address tracking to retrieve personal information from your computer.


Security

MatterNews.Org employs a number of security methods designed to prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure correct use of information. Your personal data will be stored within a database that is located behind a firewall for added security.

No data transmission over the Internet or any wireless network can be guaranteed to be secure. As a result, while we try to protect your personal information, we cannot ensure or guarantee the security of any information you transmit to us, and you do so at your own risk. We are not liable for the illegal acts of any third party.

We do not encrypt normal web sessions, however any transmission to the MatterNews.Org website or service of credit card information uses SSL encryption to help protect the data.


Links to Other Sites

MatterNews.Org provides links and pointers to Web sites maintained by other organizations. MatterNews.Org provides these links as a convenience to users, but it does not operate or control such sites. MatterNews.Org also disclaims any responsibility for the information on those sites and any products or services offered there, and cannot vouch for the privacy policies of such sites. MatterNews.Org does not make any warranties or representations that any linked sites, or this site, will function without error or interruption, that defects will be corrected, or that the sites and their servers are free of viruses and other problems that can harm your computer.


Opt Out

If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.


Children

MatterNews.Org is not directed to children (persons under the age of 13), and we do not knowingly collect, either online or offline, Personally Identifiable Information from children. If you believe that we have received information from a person under 13, please contact us by email at hello@matternews.org or in writing at 581 Bradley Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43201and we will take appropriate action.


Changes to this Privacy Policy

MatterNews.Org may change its privacy policy from time to time. If we make any changes regarding disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information to third parties, we will post notice of the new policy on our home page.


Disclaimers and Limitations of Liability

ALTHOUGH WE TAKE REASONABLE STEPS TO PREVENT THE INTRODUCTION OF VIRUSES, WORMS, OR OTHER DESTRUCTIVE MATERIALS AND PROGRAMS TO OUR SITE, WE DO NOT GUARANTEE OR WARRANT THAT OUR SITE OR MATERIALS THAT MAY BE DOWNLOADED FROM OUR SITE ARE FREE FROM SUCH DESTRUCTIVE FEATURES. WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR HARM ATTRIBUTABLE TO SUCH FEATURES. WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, LOSS OR INJURY BASED ON ERRORS, OMISSIONS, INTERRUPTIONS OR OTHER INACCURACIES IN OUR SITE, NOR FOR ANY CLAIM, LOSS OR INJURY THAT RESULTS FROM YOUR USE OF THIS SITE OR YOUR BREACH OF ANY PROVISION OF THIS AGREEMENT.


Questions

If you have any questions regarding our Privacy Policy or our use of your information, please email hello@matternews.org.

Advertising Acceptability Policy

Matter News reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement or sponsorship it is offered.

Matter News will decline to accept advertising that it knows or believes to be misleading, inaccurate, fraudulent or illegal, or that fails to comply, in Matter News’ sole discretion, with its standards of decency, equity, taste or dignity.

Matter News, like all quality publishers of original journalism, maintains a clear separation between news and advertising content. Advertising that attempts to blur this distinction in a manner that, in Matter News’ sole judgment, confuses consumers, will be rejected.

Conflict of Interest Policy

The following Financial Conflict of Interest Policy (“Conflict of Interest Policy”) is an effort (i) to ensure that the deliberations and decisions of Matter News and Grey Matter Media (“Member”) are made solely in the interest of promoting the quality of journalism in the state of Ohio, and (ii) to protect the interests of MEMBER when it considers any transaction, contract, or arrangement that might benefit or be perceived to benefit the private interest of a person affiliated with MEMBER (each, a “MEMBER Representative”). As used in this Conflict of Interest Policy, a MEMBER Representative includes any director, advisory board member, financial advisor, legal counsel or employee.

1. Duty to MEMBER. Each MEMBER Representative owes a duty to MEMBER to advance MEMBER’s legitimate interests when the opportunity to do so arises. Each MEMBER Representative must give undivided allegiance when making decisions affecting the organization. Similarly, MEMBER Representatives must be faithful to MEMBER’s nonprofit mission and are not permitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with the central goals of the organization and its nonprofit status.

2. Gifts. No MEMBER Representative shall personally accept gifts or favors that could compromise his or her loyalty to MEMBER. Any gifts or benefits personally accepted from a party having a material interest in the outcome of MEMBER or its employees by a MEMBER Representative individually should be merely incidental to their role as an MEMBER Representative and should not be of substantial value. Any gift with a value of $250 or more, or any gifts with a cumulative value in excess of $250 received by an MEMBER Representative in any twelve-month period from a single source, shall be considered substantial. Cash payments may not be accepted, and no gifts should be accepted if there are strings attached. For example, no MEMBER Representative may accept gifts if they know that such gifts are being given to solicit their support of or opposition to the outcome or content of any MEMBER publication.

3. Conflicts of Interest. The following are examples of conflicts of interest which must be promptly disclosed to the MEMBER Board of Directors pursuant to Section 4 below by any MEMBER Representative with knowledge of such conflict of interest: (a) any real or apparent conflict of interest between a donor or the subject of an MEMBER publication or report and an MEMBER Representative; (b) an MEMBER Representative’s ownership of an equity interest in a person or entity that is or will be the subject of an MEMBER publication or report; and (c) failure to disclose to MEMBER all relationships between the subject of any MEMBER publication or report and any MEMBER Representative or close relatives of the MEMBER Representative.

4. Conflict Procedure: (a) If an MEMBER Representative or party related to an MEMBER Representative has an interest in any contract, action or transaction to be entered into with MEMBER, a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest exists. Any MEMBER Representative having knowledge that such a conflict of interest exists or may exist (an “Interested MEMBER Representative”) will so advise the Board of Directors promptly. An Interested MEMBER Representative will include in the notice the material facts as to the relationship or interest of the Interested MEMBER Representative in the entity proposing to enter into a contract, action or transaction with MEMBER
(b) Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the Board of Directors may authorize any committee appointed pursuant to the MEMBER by-laws (a “Committee”) to act in lieu of the Board of Directors in determining whether an action, contract or transaction is fair to MEMBER as of the time it is authorized or approved by the Committee.
(c) At any time that a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest is identified, the President of the Board or a Chair of the applicable Committee will ensure that such conflict of interest is placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable. The notice of such meeting of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will include, to the extent available when the notice is sent, a description of the conflict of interest matter to be discussed. By notice before the meeting or at the meeting, the directors on the board or the Committee, as applicable, will be advised that a vote will be taken at the meeting and that, in order to authorize the relevant contract, action or transaction, an affirmative vote of a majority of disinterested directors present at the meeting at which a quorum is present will be required and will be sufficient, even though the disinterested directors constitute less than a quorum of the Board of Directors or the Committee.
(d) Reasonable effort will be made to cause the material facts concerning the relationships between the individuals and MEMBER which create the conflict to be delivered to and shared with the members of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, prior to the meeting to enable the directors to arrive at the meeting prepared to discuss the issue. In the event it is not practicable to deliver the information prior to the meeting, it will be delivered to the directors at the meeting, and the directors can act upon the matter with the same authority as if notice had been given prior to the meeting.
(e) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will invite all parties to the conflict of interest to attend the meeting, to make presentations and to be prepared to answer questions, if necessary. The Board or Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will also invite outside experts if necessary.
(f) At the meeting, providing a quorum is present, the conflict will be discussed to ensure that the directors present are aware of the issues and the factors involved. The interested directors may be counted for purposes of a quorum, even though they may not take part in any vote on the issues.
(g) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, must decide, in good faith, reasonably justified by the material facts, whether the action, contract or transaction would be in the best interest of MEMBER and fair to MEMBER as of the time it is authorized or approved.
(h) All interested directors must abstain from voting and, if necessary, leave the room when the vote is taken.
(i) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will maintain a written account of all that transpires at the meeting and incorporate such account into the minutes of the meeting and disseminate it to the full Board of Directors. Such minutes will be presented for approval at the next meeting of the Board of Directors and maintained in the corporate record book.
(j) To the extent that the conflict of interest is continuing and the contract, action or transaction goes beyond one (1) year, the foregoing notice and discussion and vote will be repeated on an annual basis.
Personal Loans. MEMBER may not loan to, or guarantee the personal obligations of, any MEMBER Representative.