It was the day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V, Wade, and in a fit of passion I made the grave mistake of using The Hot Springs Post's platform to take a partial stance. For this, I owe every reader an apology.
I am sorry to have broken a code of ethics I strive to always work by as a journalist.
The Hot Springs Post is currently run solely by me, Cassidy Kendall. I am always conscious not to take stances, and label anything resembling an opinion as such. And in-line with that, I try not to publish very many opinion pieces, and when I do they have not been on stances with a heated polarity such as that of Roe.
The primary goals of THSP is to serve the community as a whole, and promote unity even in the most polar of times. My public stance taken on Roe failed to meet either of those goals.
My mistake made harms the credibility of this media outlet, and my intention is to correct this through full transparency on the matter, and move forward with a set precedent for THSP to ensure nothing less than ethical reporting from here on out.
On June 25, I made the decision to take a public stance on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe V. Wade with THSP on its Facebook Page.
Under the notion that access to safe abortion is basic healthcare for women, The Hot Springs Post’s core values align with that of Friday’s ruling by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe V. Wade to be unjust. In response, we are collecting open letters, poems, sentiments and photos from the local community to provide a space to be heard. Please message us or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I continued with the stance in sharing the previous post to THSP's Facebook group, adding:
FROM THE EDITOR:
I am always conscious to separate my personal beliefs from my work in order to provide an unbiased media outlet for the community as a whole. However, there is a line to be drawn between what is bias and what is blatant right and wrong. And yesterday’s decision was wrong.
Even if you don’t agree with abortion, we live in America where there should always be a choice. Because a belief is a belief, but when a choice is taken away on what to believe, that’s wrong.
I believe it to be unethical to even entertain the idea that taking a stance on calling the court’s decision out as unjust is mere opinion. It’s calling out right versus wrong.
Therefore, this outlet will be a platform for the community that is hurting right now.
Some may believe this to be unethical, but it is simply what lies in The Hot Spring’s Post’s core values, and I’m proud to have a publication with ethical and just core values that stand for what is right.
I understand some may not agree, and this action may taint my future work in select eyes that will from now view it as a media outlet with a bias political agenda, but I will not be someone who promotes and produces a publication that does not stand for what is right.
— Cassidy Kendall
Despite any personal beliefs on the matter, I was the one who was wrong to use this media outlet as an opportunity to be impartial. My job here was to simply report on the court's ruling, and report this community's reaction — not state my own reaction as a fact of the matter.
Moving forward, I am setting a precedent for The Post. The following will be a code of ethics used to guide the journalism generated from this media outlet from here on out to always ensure impartial, fair reporting. These will also be available in a section on the site titled "Ethics."
These are things derived from the Society of Professional Journalist's Code of Ethics, and things I have strived to abide by throughout my journalism career, but undoubtedly failed to abide by recently with Roe.
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.
I am happy to say I plan on moving forward with a promise to this community to report nothing less than ethically through this platform. And as always, my door is always open to input from every reader.
Cassidy Kendall, Publisher