Ethical transparency

In a deliberate departure from the standard practices of journalism, the Center permits community journalists participating in our Credible Messenger Reporting Project to compensate people in their stories for their time with funding we provide.

We are mindful that the Society of Professional Journalists calls this practice “checkbook journalism” and argues that it “undermines journalistic independence and integrity and threatens the accuracy of the information that is purchased.”

We have entered into this experiment in response to informal but extensive community stakeholder research indicating that equitable compensation primarily communicates respect and that trust may be undermined when the source is the only person in the process not receiving compensation.

This message adheres to the SPJ Code of Ethics guidance stating that journalists should explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Please use the form below if you would like to respond.