[revised December 2018]
Business-to-business (B2B) media such as HousingWire exist to serve their audiences in the specialized fields they cover, while being financially successful 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 come the credibility that supports the industry’s long-term viability and advancement. Separately, HW’s advertising and marketing teams serve the industry by helping connect innovative and impactful companies with potential clients and partners.
These goals are accomplished through constant attention to reader needs and through a publicly expressed dedication to such journalistic principles as:
- full attribution to sources, and
- clear separation of reporting from analysis and opinion, and of editorial content from advertising and sponsored 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. Editorial Calls. When newsroom 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.
2. 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. Collaboration with 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 Quo. There is no trading of advertising for editorial coverage or coverage for advertising.
3. Controversial & Negative Coverage. HousingWire’s charge to Move Markets Forward and our role as a leading business news platform 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. These guidelines outline the preferred procedure for newsroom and PR relations:
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.
Public relations personnel may be asked to help arrange contacts with key sources.
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.
When additional interviews are needed, public relations practitioners may help make appointments for editors with 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.
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.
Stories bylined by PR professionals are not allowed to run in any HousingWire property on behalf of their clients or company unless contracted through HW Content Solutions and clearly marked as Sponsored Content.
C. Gifts to Editors and Writers
1. 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:
a) 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.
b) 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.
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.
F. 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 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 bylined 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.
The use of hyperlinks within Editorial Content is at the discretion of editors, alone. Links are a navigation tool for the content, not for any mentioned companies. Requests to add links after a story is published are generally not accepted.
H. Press Releases
Press releases often serve as the starting point for editorial coverage; however, are rarely published in their entirety. Material sourced from press releases may be reworked into brief, quick-hit stories at the discretion of HousingWire editors. In some cases, several press releases may be combined under the auspice of a single-connected narrative, such as a “Fintech wrap up,” etc.
Business journalism is an evolving ecosystem, 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.