Editorial Policies

rev 11/2015

Introduction

Business-to-business (B2B) media such as HousingWire exist to serve their audiences in the specialized fields they cover, while being financially viable businesses themselves.

This means that the goals of HousingWire and the industry we’ve dedicated ourselves to covering are one and the same. Editorial staff at HousingWire best serve the industry we cover by ensuring high standards of objectivity, because with high standards comes the credibility that supports the industry’s long-term viability and advancement.

These goals are accomplished through constant attention to reader needs and through a publicly expressed dedication to such journalistic principles as:

  • accuracy,
  • fairness,
  • balance,
  • full attribution to sources, and
  • clear separation of reporting from analysis and opinion, and of editorial from advertising content.

These goals are also accomplished when editorial staff embodies the values that define all HW employees: passion, accountability, ingenuity, positivity, and integrity.

Only editors make final editorial decisions. In all ways, editorial coverage must be based primarily on reader needs in the view of the editors. Ideally, this judgment reflects both HousingWire’s corporate mission: moving markets forward – as well as a clear understanding of the professional nature of our readership in the U.S. residential mortgage finance and real estate industries.

All dealings with external, non-editorial personnel — including public relations representatives and story sources — are conducted with the clear understanding that no preferential editorial treatment should be expected from the interaction.

A. Contacts with Advertisers and Advertising Sales Staff

  1. Productive Editorial-Advertising Relationships. Editors should have a productive working relationship with sales personnel. Editors may refer potential advertisers to ad sales staff and consult with ad sales staff on story ideas. However, it is imperative to make clear to everyone at a publication that final decisions about editorial content rest with the editor, while final decisions about advertising sales rest with advertising sales staff. Something that is clearly not news should not be “forced” into the editorial hemisphere.
     
  2. “Editorial Calls.” When editors and/or editorial staff are asked to accompany sales staff on an advertising visit, the occasion may be identified to all participants as an “editorial call.” Agenda items may include discussing industry trends, explaining editorial policy and direction, or describing the readership.
     
  3. Story Leads. If advertisers recommend story ideas or leads, editors should make it clear that they will make an independent judgment about possible usage, based on their analysis of reader needs.

B. Treatment of Advertisers and Public Relations Personnel

  1. No Article Previews. Generally, non-editorial personnel are not allowed to preview an unpublished article. Exceptions – allowed to assure the technical accuracy of material – include previews for experts, editorial advisory board members, or other sources who will receive no benefit from the article. This guideline also applies if a company or public relations person suggests an article. However, when a source or a company is referred to in an article in which they participated, it may be acceptable for the editor to ask that the source review quotes or sections to ensure accuracy and clarity.
     
  2. No Quid Pro QuoThere is no trading of advertising for editorial or editorial for advertising.
     
  3. Controversial & Negative Coverage. HousingWire’s charge to move markets forward and our role as a viable B2B news media sometimes means writing a story that is negative or controversial involving an existing advertiser. While the majority of HousingWire’s industry coverage is not of this nature, we will not shy away from such coverage so long as it follows our expressed journalistic principles, enumerated above. Additionally, editorial staff writing such stories will reach out to an authorized press representative for the advertiser for comment and ensure an appropriate amount of time for an on-the-record response prior to publication; though an on-the-record response is not a requirement for publication.
     
  4. Public Relations Personnel. These guidelines outline preferred procedure in dealing with public relations personnel during the preparation of material for publication.
     
  5. If the contact involves arranging for an expert author to produce an article, the author will be identified as a guest contributor, with company affiliation and job title clearly listed. The article provided should meet all editorial requirements set by the editors, and should be edited in the manner of staff-generated or freelance-contracted content.
     
  6. Public relations personnel may be asked to help arrange contacts with key sources.
     
  7. When an article idea originates in a public relations department, it is logical for editors and reporters to seek more details from the PR source, as well as other sources.
     
  8. When additional interviews are needed, public relations practitioners may help make appointments and advise editors on appropriate personnel with whom to speak. To avoid undue influence on the interview subject, as circumstances dictate, HousingWire editors may choose to discourage participation of public relations personnel in the actual interview.
     
  9. Public relations personnel are logical sources to provide editors with suitable illustrations, photographs, or other “art” to accompany articles, as well as company and copyright clearance for those illustrations, photographs, or other “art,” or for designated personnel to speak to the editors, when needed.
     
  10. When the same person or company handles advertising and public relations responsibilities, HousingWire editorial staff should seek an alternative source wherever practical to avoid a conflict of interest. If not practical, HousingWire editorial staff is permitted to refuse to work with the person or company on grounds of conflict of interest if the source implies or otherwise attempts to influence editorial coverage via controlling advertising spend.
     
  11. Stories bylined by PR professionals are not allowed to run in any HousingWire property on behalf of their clients or company.

C. Gifts to Editors and Writers

Generally, these guidelines establish acceptable gifts:

  • Modest, souvenir-type gifts commonly given out at press affairs or conferences, or distributed to large groups of editors or individual editors during traditional gift-giving seasons, are generally acceptable.
     
  • Modest gifts sent to a large number of B2B editorial staff are generally acceptable.
     
  • Money or lavish gifts for single B2B editorial staff member or a select few are not acceptable.

D. Travel, Entertainment, and Junkets

In the case of transportation, lodging, entertainment, and personal expenses incurred in connection with editorial coverage, the publication or an editorial staff member is responsible for payment. There may be exceptions, however, including the following:

  1. Junkets. In the case of group press affairs attended by editors and editorial staff from more than one publication – so-called junkets – payment is optional if the offer to pay expenses is extended by the information source or advertiser/vendor to all participants. Honorariums are forbidden.
     
  2. Speaking Engagements. This section considers both work-related and non-work-related situations.
     
  3. Work-related. In speaking engagements at an association, company affair, or conference, accepting reimbursement of travel expenses is optional if the engagement is a direct part of the editor’s job.
     
  4. Non-work related. If speaking engagements are outside the editor’s job function (e.g., relating to a hobby or other non-work interest) and would have no negative impact on the editor’s publication or company, the editor may accept fees or other compensation.

E. Webinars

  1. Editorial-controlled webinars: The editor has full and final control of the topics, speaker selection, webinar agenda, and other relevant matters. Editors may seek and accept advice about all matters as they deem appropriate and are the final decision-makers on webinar matters (including the selection of an advertiser or potential advertiser as a speaker.)

    Sponsorships or advertising for editorial webinars may be sold, but sponsors are not allowed to preview the content of the webinar (in much the same way as they would not see a preview of a print publication before advertising in it.) In an editorial webinar, sponsors may be thanked by the moderator and given some time to present information about their companies.
     
  2. Non-editorial-controlled webinars: The editor does not have full and final control of the topics, speaker selection, webinar agenda, and other relevant matters. This lack of editorial control might be due to a publisher’s decision to control the content and speakers or the publisher giving that control to a sponsor or advertiser or other non-editorial person. Thus, advertisers might pay to have their representative included as a speaker or even determine the webinar topic.

    Even if the material presented is instructive in nature, such webinars must be treated as paid or bartered content (e.g. similar to special print advertising sections/supplements. Editorial staff members must not be directly involved in the creation or production process, though an editor may moderate the discussion.

F. Corrections

Corrections are made within 24 hours of notification of an error when involving an online story, and noted in the original material online; and if in print, corrections shall run near the editor’s letter if within the magazine, in the next available issue.

G. Special considerations

Notwithstanding the above guidelines, the following special considerations apply and are unique to HousingWire’s position as independent trade media:

1. Reconciling industry goals with journalism objectivity

One of the principal ways HousingWire is unique within the journalism field is the primacy of its industry mission: moving markets forward.

Our media company exists to advance that mission, and it can best perform that function by developing a reputation for credibility and objectivity in the delivery of its content.

Thus, it should be possible for an HousingWire to take an editorial position on issues that are consistent with its mission while still fostering trust among its audience groups by weighing all sides of issues and by including voices of opposition in its coverage.

2. Standards for op-eds and opinion coverage

HousingWire writers and editors must take great care in writing opinion pieces. Our readers see editorial staff as objective industry experts and our opinions should only serve to reinforce this reality. Therefore, op-eds by lined by HousingWire editorial staff should focus on key trends, data, or industry issues at-large.

What our own op-eds will not do: take individual companies or products to task for their actions or inactions, real, perceived or otherwise. Our op-eds may, however, choose to defend specific companies or groups of companies from inaccurate coverage appearing elsewhere – but only when focused on a specific set of trends, data or industry issues.

3. Standards will continually evolve

Trade journalism is changing, and HousingWire is committed to leading the industry standards in this important area of information exchange. As such, these standards will change over time, along with new standards emerging, as industry needs dictate – what won’t change is our orientation and commitment to our mission: moving markets forward.