A2Ethics.org Errors Policy and Ethics Principles

(Effective date: August 31, 2009 -- Last Updated: April 14, 2012)

A2Ethics.org is a member of the online journalism, net news, commentary, opinion and bantering universe.

We are comfortable in this bantering universe.

We think it creates new freedoms for many more people to publicly express and to expand their interests and passions, and in so doing promote democratic practices and sociable habits.

We know that this bantering universe can be, and often is, a bullying and anti-social universe. Overall, we believe online journalism can and will ultimately inform and educate the public.

To get to this end, we believe individuals writing for and producing the material for online media have responsibilities to the public and to themselves. They, too, need to be informed and educated to be civic journalists and, at A2Ethics.org, to become the civic ethicists of our community.

What we find concerning in this ever-evolving online journalism universe is that many of the people writing and producing the body of work are not really held accountable. Their publics do not require them to check, source, attribute or correct themselves when they make mistakes to prove what they say is fact-based. And because the global reach and speed of this online journalism and bantering universe are highly regarded, little time is given to consider the potential harms done to others when errors continue to circle the earth.

We are quite aware that mistakes have dire consequences for people. We are familiar with the literature of mistakes, watch a lot of films about the screw-ups caused by errors, and listen to more than our fair share of country music, that is, the songs about being wronged and doing wrong.

We would like to encourage habits that do not wrong other people. And if we do wrong, we would like to encourage habits for attempting to put right what we have done.

Below are the habits we would like to foster at A2Ethics.org. They are outlined as our own Errors Policy and Ethics Principles. Any changes to these principles will be posted on this page and identified by the "last updated" date shown above.


Errors Policy and Ethics Principles

Plagiarism
Accuracy and Honesty
Your Responsibilities
How Your Expertise Can Help
How We Make Corrections
How We Aim for Fairness
Resources on Errors and Journalism Ethics
Any Other Questions?


Plagiarism
 
We will not maliciously and intentionally steal another’s words or original works. Plagiarism is wrong because the plagiarist knowingly robs from another person their beliefs, their thoughts and their unique ways and manner of expressing themselves.

Yes, plagiarists think it’s not such a big deal. Maybe they confuse stealing words and another’s work with copyright infringement -- that lifting wholesale what someone else has written, filmed or composed and pretending it is your own is similar to copying a protected movie or downloading a piece of music without paying the owners.

Plagiarism is not like stealing a copyrighted work at all. It is more like identity theft. And at A2Ethics.org, we value our own identities enough that we don’t want to destroy someone else’s.

Accuracy and Honesty
 
We want and will attempt to be as accurate and honest in composing, presenting, performing and talking about our work as we can. The accuracy and honesty principles we see in other media ethics codes are hard ones to come by –- honestly -- in our opinion.

Our ideas and commentary in A2Ethics.org represent our impressions and understanding of people, events and institutions, most often based on reports and chronicles from other media. We know that they get their facts wrong, too. We will try to vet and check the key facts and ideas we rely on, but can’t promise to do this all the time.

We will source our material when it is applicable: to give you an understanding of where we are coming from and what and whom we consulted or quoted in our stories and posts.

Equally important, we will work on offering a wide range of opinions and views. No. Not for balance. Some ideas seem quite without balance to us. We think, however, that offering a range of views is more likely to allow you to get an accurate and honest understanding of a particular subject.

And too, equally as vital, we will let you know when we are advocates of a particular person, promoting an event or in favor of a specific cause. We will tell you if we know of a connection to the person, event or cause and what that relationship is. We can’t be responsible, however, for more than one degree of separation.

Let’s face it. We are not traditional reporters. Further, A2Ethics.org is not making any claim that we are providing you neutral and objective accounts. At A2Ethics.org, we traffic in the non-neutral, in the subjective. We consult angles, perspectives and views. We sometimes compose fictions and illusions as well as nonfictions and realities.

And we make judgments all the time -- about what we choose to write about, the causes we are going to study and about the intentions and actions of people and of institutions.

We have our own ethics too. So, the idea that we will be objective or without biases is not true to our experience of ethics. People have widely divergent and, on occasion, similar ideas about what is and what is not unethical. We can’t take off our ethics. But we can point out to you when we are taking a particular view of ethics. We expect you, when you contribute and comment, to do the same.

And we will let you know when we are writing fictions and creating illusions, from parodies and drama to any of our photos, artwork and exhibits. We expect you, when you contribute and comment, to do the same. This expectation is very important.

Your Responsibilities
 
As we have outlined in our Terms of Use, as a contributor and a civic journalist too, you have responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is vouching for the originality, accuracy and honesty of the work you submit to this website. If you contribute information, provide a resource or post a comment that is riddled with the errors that we feel we should correct as described below, then you should feel obligated to rectify your mistake too.

How Your Expertise Can Help
 
We will try not to oversimplify events and misrepresent ideas and views, or talk about these ideas and views out of context. We are not experts on most matters, nor do we pretend to be. Some subjects we know better than others. You can be most helpful here in clearing up any confusion and errors we are continuing to peddle. If you are an expert on a subject, any subject, please help us out. Contribute corrections, new information, provide additional resources and post comments.
 

How We Make Corrections

When we realize we have made a mistake or more than one, we will correct them as soon as we can. If the mistake is a spelling or grammatical one, however, we will correct these errors to our work without publicizing them.

This does not hold for misspelling names or mislabeling a photo we have taken. In these cases, we will identify the error we have made at the end of the affected work or post. Other cases where we will make public corrections include:

    If we have a quotation wrong.

    If we publish a graph or chart which is incorrect.

    If a statistic we use is in error.

    If what we have claimed as a factual statement is wrong.

Further, you can help us in outing our errors, by letting us know if you read or listen to a mistake. Contact us at: outingerrors@a2ethics.org and describe in detail the mistake or mistakes we have made in our work. In addition, make sure you include the source you are using and a way we can access this source. We will check it. After our investigation, if we find we are wrong, we will correct the error and publish it at the bottom of the work.

How We Aim for Fairness
 
We recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence, and attention--or are just devoted to the pursuit of glory. We respect that people may be affected adversely by our opinions and commentary, especially when it calls them out on ethics grounds. We prize fairness in our appraisals. At the same time, we can’t promise to show good taste in everything. We may cause offense by speaking out on people, issues and institutions. As civic ethicists we have a responsibility to be civil, but we also have a greater obligation to sometimes be testy, in determining the trustworthiness of what people tell us about their ethics against what they actually do. If we weren’t, then we wouldn’t be very trustworthy ourselves.

Resources on Errors and Journalism Ethics

For more information about the ethics of errors and the ethics of journalism in general, the following links may be useful:

 
Any other questions?

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions regarding this errors and ethics principles policy, please send us an email at: info@a2ethics.org.