Policies and Standards

  • Ethics Policy

    The Washington Examiner requires the highest ethical standards from all members of staff.

    This means being fair and accurate in reporting, and having a strong wall between news on the one hand and opinion or advocacy on the other.

    It also means avoiding conflicts of interest in fact and appearance, and publishing without fear or favor. Membership of outside organizations is permitted in many cases but is to be avoided if it presents an apparent conflict of interest that would compromise the employee’s work, or the Washington Examiner as a whole.

    Staff members should not accept gifts of significant monetary value from people or organizations about whom they might write, or with whom they might come into contact in the ordinary course of their work. If in doubt, staff members should seek guidance from their supervisor.

    The Washington Examiner generally pays for all expenses incurred in the course of employees doing their jobs. This applies widely, including to such things as meals while traveling for work, travel tickets, car hire, hotel accommodation, etc. Sometimes a staff member might accept an offer, for example of a speaking engagement, from an outside organization that pays all costs and a fee. Washington Examiner employees must seek prior approval from the Editor in Chief in such cases.

    There are some clear conflicts of interest that should at all times be avoided. These include but are not limited to 1) Writing about companies in which the writer has a financial interest, or about stocks in which the writer or a friend or family member intends to trade, 2) taking paid employment from a contractor of the Washington Examiner’s, 3) Accepting payment from an outside source for a story appearing in the Washington Examiner, 4) Working paid or unpaid for another news organization except with permission from the editor in chief, 5) Divulging proprietary, privileged, or confidential information to recipients not approved by the management, 6) Doing work for a national political party.

    Most conflicts-of-interest boil down to avoiding activities that, if known, would prompt doubt about whether an employee could do his or her job impartially. No ethics policy can detail every contingency. The overriding obligation on staff is to consider whether an activity compromises the Washington Examiner’s mission or that individual’s ability to do his or her job properly. Any doubts should be resolved in discussion with management.

  • Ownership and Funding

    The Washington Examiner is a publication of privately-owned Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, LLC which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clarity Media Group, Inc. which is in turn a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation.

  • Mission and Values

    The Washington Examiner’s mission is to produce excellent journalism online and in print. It was founded in 2005 to bring a new perspective on federal politics. This means publishing all the most important stories, which necessarily includes those that other news organizations routinely ignore. Thus, the Washington Examiner’s mission from the outset has been to broaden the range of political discussion, rejecting the narrow constraints of prevailing orthodoxy.

    We produce fresh and original stories on every aspect of politics and ideas, specifically on the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, on legislation and regulation, national security, the economy, business, international relations, religion, and the broader culture. In all these areas we report news straight, with accuracy and balance, giving readers a clear view of what is really happening in Washington, undistorted by ideological bias. Our coverage is also deliberately fair, giving a respectful hearing to conservative ideas and conservative people who get short shrift from most other media outlets.

    Washington Examiner aims for a broad range of coverage. This means publishing strong enterprise stories that dig beneath the surface. It also means running a fast paced breaking news operation, which allows readers to stay up to date in real time with important events unfolding in the federal capital, across the nation, and around the world.

    Alongside this robust news operation, Washington Examiner’s mission is to publish a high volume of intelligent and incisive commentary in long features, opeds, and blog posts. We have a forthrightly conservative worldview, and so our commentary intentionally provides millions of readers with assurance that their values and outlook are an acceptable and respected part of serious and humane discussion of current affairs.

    Honesty and Integrity: At Washington Examiner, news and opinion run side by side, but they remain separate and are labeled clearly. We recognize our public obligation to maintain high ethical standards in our journalism and our business. This means we do not allow the latter to infect the former. Our constant aim is to inform readers about what is actually happening, and we do not allow any agenda to distort or deflect us from that mission. We also strive at all times for full disclosure of relationships that, if hidden, could suggest a conflict of interest. This applies both to our own ownership and to outside sources, whether they are commenting in a news story or contributing an advocacy oped. Our commitment is to a transparent relationship with readers, so that we are a trusted source for news and opinion.

    Multi-platform commitment: These same values apply across all platforms as the Washington Examiner grows its influence and expands the range of products it uses to reach readers and website visitors. We aim to deliver news and commentary to readers in the forms they want, which means ceaseless innovation and adaptation to produce high-quality video, podcasts, live events, and other platforms. In all of these, we seek to maintain the same standards of excellence and integrity. To help us constantly improve, we also encourage readers to use our dedicated email inboxes for feedback, and to comment directly on stories so we have a real-time monitor of our work. To reach new audiences and deliver excellent journalism as widely as possible, we also establish partnerships with other news outlets, such as mobile news apps.

    Working for readers: Washington Examiner sees itself as a servant of its readership and the general public, which means we aim on their behalf to hold government at all levels to account. We know that the decisions they make and actions they take have a direct impact on the life of the nation and its hundreds of millions of citizens. We use our penetrating access in Washington, which reaches right up to the Oval Office, to ask the questions and get the answers that most people are not in a position to demand. This ethos is one that we make a responsibility of each and every member of the newsroom.

    Washington Examiner’s most important intangible asset is its integrity. Its most important element of all is its staff — the reporters and editors, web producers and page designers, bloggers and social media experts who produce and deliver our excellent journalism each and every day. We aim to foster a supportive, professional, and humane workplace, conducive to a constant output of top quality work for readers.

  • Verification and Fact Checking

    The Washington Examiner strives for accuracy and takes several steps on each item of content to assure it. We check facts and claims with sources, research context, background documents, and public records. And all stories are reviewed by at least one editor before publication. We have a dedicated feedback email (email address) so readers can let us know if we have made a mistake or can improve a story with additional information. We welcome outside input.

  • Corrections Policy

    The Washington Examiner intends to be first with accurate news. Speed and accuracy militate against each other and sometimes errors occur. We endeavor to deal with mistakes promptly, publishing corrections, clarifications, or editor’s notes as appropriate. This is necessary to fulfill our mission to deal honestly with readers, conceding error transparently.

    Corrections are required when we have published something that is objectively wrong. This can be a news story, a fact within an opinion piece, a photo caption, a headline or graphic, audio or visual data in a video. In such cases we should publish a correction explaining the error and change as swiftly as possible. Errors in email or app alerts, or on social media should be corrected on those platforms. Corrections should describe and remedy the problem, not ascribe blame.

    Clarifications are used when the facts are correct but the words used or syntax deployed could make the meaning confusing. The misleading phrasing should be changed for clarity, and a note should be appended to the story to acknowledge the change. The clarification can also be used to acknowledge that a comment has been added that was not sought initially, or that new facts have been added that alter the original account of an event or framing of the news.

    Editor’s notes are used when there is a significant omission or ethical problem that could suggest that the story should not have been published in its original form. Editor’s notes must be approved by the editor in chief or executive editors.

    Removal of content from website
    The Washington Examiner’s policy is that content may be removed from its website only very rarely. It can be done if the editor in chief or executive editors decide that a published story does not meet proper standards and should not have been published in the first place. Stories should not be removed because a fact in them is wrong or because subsequent events change the way the story would have been written if published later. For example, an accurate story about someone being charged with a crime should not be removed if, for some reason, the case was later dropped. Requests for removal should be investigated and corrections and/or follow-up stories published as appropriate.

  • Unnamed Sources Policy

    Unnamed sources are an important element in the work of any good news organization. Without them, readers would not get all the information they have a right to expect. But their use requires extra vigilance because anonymity makes misuse or abuse easier. Readers need to be confident that they can trust sources used by reporters, and the Washington Examiner therefore takes special care when using unidentified sources for information or comment. We regard integrity, credibility, and transparency as of paramount importance.

    This means that whenever possible we will persuade sources to drop their anonymity and agree to be named. We do not allow anonymity merely as a mild preference. It is only for when it is genuinely necessary in order to get information without which a story would be incomplete. The Washington Examiner will not allow anonymous smears or personal attacks; if someone wants to condemn someone else by name, we demand that they put their own name to their accusations. This means that the Washington Examiner will use anonymous sources only to publish necessary details. We will not use an anonymous source if the same information is available from another source that does not require concealment. Our editors and reporters are committed to using an anonymous source only if that person has genuine and direct knowledge of the subject on which he or she is giving information. To ensure proper discipline in this delicate decision, supervising editors must approve the use of anonymous sources and know who the source is, even though they are then obliged to keep that identity confidential. All those involved in decisions of this sort must protect the source, and at the same time to secure the interests of readers.

    People who agree to be interviewed or otherwise give information have no right to demand anonymity retroactively. If they request it, it will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. All interviews proceed on an on-the-record basis unless anonymity is agreed in advance. Reporters may read sources’ comments back to them to ensure accuracy, but may not allow sources to change what they said. We do not, except with permission from the editor-in-chief, or executive or managing editors, allow sources to read complete drafts of stories before publication. Such a practice will be allowed only extremely rarely and will be judged on a case-by-case basis. It will never be done to allow a source effectively to decide how a story is framed.

    There are two further levels of reporting in which the source of information is concealed. One is when a source speaks off the record. This is defined at the Washington Examiner as information to help a reporter understand what is really going on but which may not be used in a story without it having been confirmed by another source. That other source can be on the record, which is best, or on background. On-background information is a fact or facts that the source is content to be published but only if their identity is veiled, such as with the descriptor, “according to a source with direct knowledge of the meeting,” or, “according to a senior official at the agency.” When a source is Person X, but his/her i nformation is on background, it is ok to describe that person as “a source familiar with X’s thinking.” This conceals the identity without being inaccurate.

    Anonymous sources, though vital to newsroom work, are not accorded the same weight as sources who speak on the record. Thus, reporters and editors will always strive to secure a second and third source to confirm information from an initial anonymous source. If the truth of information from an anonymous source is called into question, the supervising editor must be informed so that a story can be corrected or clarified as necessary.

    We never knowingly mislead readers about the identities of sources, such as by suggesting they work in one government department when they in fact work in another. Our commitment to protecting sources should never cross the line into duping readers. This commitment to honesty also flows in the opposite direction; we must not mislead sources about who we are, such as by a reporter failing to disclose that he or she is a Washington Examiner journalist. We must tell sources who we are and where we work. Their decision to give or withhold information must be based on knowing this. And we must explain clearly what the ground rules of an interview are, so they know what we mean when we say that the information they give is on background or off the record.

    We do not permit plagiarism. Any material gleaned from sources other than our own reporting must be attributed. We are committed to giving credit to other publications where credit is due. This is a commitment to readers, who have the right to know what parts of a story have been gained directly by the Washington Examiner, and which elements come from other outlets. We will always value original reporting more highly than information from wire services, pool reporters, or other news organizations. Similarly, in describing a scene or events, reporters must not conceal which elements they actually witnessed and which they are reporting second hand from others with direct knowledge. If in any doubt about how to do this, reporters should discuss it with their editor to achieve proper transparency for readers. It is not necessary to attribute facts, such as protesters smashing windows, if such acts are observed on television or online video.

    We must try to have as wide a range of sources as possible, with a mix of ages and backgrounds, so our general coverage and, where possible, each story, is as securely based and as balanced in its representation as possible.

  • Diversity Voices Statement

    The Washington Examiner provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, military status, or status as a Vietnam-era or special disabled veteran in accordance with applicable federal and state laws. In addition, the Washington Examiner complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the Washington Examiner has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including, but not limited to, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.