Editorial Policies

Editorial Standards > Editorial Policies

Legal issues

■ Unlike in many countries, the U.S. legal system does not allow people to be arrested or prosecuted in secret. Arrest and court records are considered public records under New York and federal law. A news report about a person being accused of a crime by prosecutors does not reflect any view by the newspaper of the person’s guilt or innocence.

■ We will name people in stories and police blotters who are charged with serious crimes. Typically, such charges are felonies. We will do so only if a defendant’s name is released or confirmed by law enforcement or included in a court record.

■ We will include identifying information such as middle initials and ages, when available, to prevent confusion about who has been charged.

■ We are more likely to report the name of someone who has been charged if the person is prominent in the community, a public-safety employee or a school employee; if the charges were the result of a larger and/or extended investigation; if law enforcement or prosecutors have publicly identified the person, such as via a news release; or if, in the judgment of the editors, the arrest is otherwise of immediate public interest or concern.

■ In unusual circumstances we may name a person who is arrested but not charged, but if we do so we will make clear that no charges were filed.

■ Because we do not have the resources to report on the resolution of every police blotter item, we block such items from being indexed by search engines such as Google. They will, however, remain searchable on our site.

■ When charges are dropped, a person is acquitted or a person is found guilty of only lesser charges, we will update our story or a police blotter item to reflect this if we are able to verify such an outcome. Email [email protected]

■ We do not name juveniles unless they are charged as adults or with serious violent crimes, such as armed robbery, aggravated sexual assault, attempted homicide or homicide.

■ We avoid identifying — by name or photo — children who are connected with a crime as perpetrators, victims or witnesses.

■ If a criminal suspect is at large and believed by law enforcement to be dangerous, we will identify the suspect, including a photo or sketch.

■ In breaking news stories, we do not publish the names of a person who has been killed until authorities have notified the family and released the name, or the family has identified the victim publicly, such as to a reporter or in a public social media post.

■ In rare cases, such as when a sexual assault allegation has been proven to be false and malicious, we may identify a sexual assault accuser.

■ In covering active police or military operations, we will withhold such details as location or tactics planned until after the operation, to avoid endangering police, troops or civilians who could be affected.

Removing archived material

We do not remove published content from our archives but will review requests to update or append an article if provided with sufficient documentation. The editor also will weigh exceptions to this policy in extreme cases, such as abuse or danger to someone’s personal safety. Email [email protected]

Mental health and suicide

■ We will cover mental health and suicide as broad public health issues as consistently as we cover other health matters.

■ We will cover individual events of suicide as news stories if they involve prominent figures or public means. However, we will avoid using the word “suicide” in headlines or spelling out the specific means.

■ In stories that involve suicides, we will include contact information for resources for people in mental-health crises. e.g., “The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.”

No-byline policy

Articles that do not have bylines in print or are attributed online to “Staff” are written by the editor or a senior editor. This is typically because they are brief items based on a single source, such as a press release, or there are multiple contributors, such as a collection of photos.

Obituaries

We treat obituaries posted by funeral homes as news stories and edit them to a standard format. We will indicate the funeral home was the source of our information. Not all obituaries posted online also appear in print. We do not charge a fee to post or print obituaries unless the family wishes the obituary to appear in print without editing, in which case we will indicate it is a paid notice.

Photo and video

■ When documenting private or traumatic moments in public places, we will not seek permission to shoot but will be sensitive to subjects’ situation.

■ We do not require parental permission to photograph or interview children in breaking news situations, such as a public protest. We will attempt to contact a parent or guardian before identifying a child in a feature photograph unless the photo and identification are provided to us, such as from a school or sports event.

■ We will use drones to capture images in public areas only.

■ We will refrain from doing re-enactments of news events. Otherwise, we will identify posed or re-enacted photos and video, except when it is clearly posed (e.g., an award-winner holding up a trophy).

■ We will refrain from intentionally becoming an active participant in a news story (e.g., taking part in a rescue operation or using our camera to influence a situation).

■ If we believe we can provide help or mitigate harm by actively participating in a situation, rather than only documenting it, we will do so and disclose our participation to your viewers.

■ We will not manipulate images through Photoshop or other means. We will not obscure or pixelate images, although we have made a few exceptions. For instance, in a photo for a story on city-issued ID cards, we may obscure the subject’s address for privacy reasons, or in a photo of a hate group’s flyer, the website address of the group to avoid unnecessary promotion of its views.

■ We will clearly label all photos or video that are provided by sources.

■ We will identify stock photos used for illustrative purposes.

Advertising

■ We reserve the right to refuse any advertisement or sponsorship. We will decline advertising that we know or believe to be misleading, inaccurate, libelous, fraudulent or illegal, or that fails to comply, in our sole discretion, with common standards of decency, taste or dignity.

■ We do not allow advertisers to have a say in the selection or content of stories and photos.

■ We use specific, consistent terms such as “Advertisement” and “Sponsored Content” in print, online and on our social media networks to indicate paid material.

■ We require content provided by advertisers to have a different color type or background and a different font than our editorial content. We require that advertisements made to resemble news stories be accompanied by a clear statement that the article was prepared by the advertiser and did not involve our editorial staff.

■ Questions? You can reach our advertising manager at [email protected]