The Harpswell Anchor, and its publisher the Harpswell News, (jointly referred to herein as the “Harpswell Anchor” or “Anchor”) strive to provide nonpartisan, objective, trustworthy news to all members of the community. Public statements of opinion by certain Anchor employees — even if they bear no other relation to the Anchor or its work — can undermine this goal. Even if these statements do not affect the Anchor’s news, the perception of bias can damage the Anchor’s reputation as much as actual bias. Thus, Anchor employees who regularly interact with members of the public as part of their work for the Anchor must use their best judgment to avoid behaviors and activities that a reasonable person could construe as expressing a bias or conflict of interest that could compromise the Anchor’s ability to report the news fairly and accurately, uninfluenced by any person, group or action.
Employees who regularly interact with the public including editors, reporters, and employees engaged in fundraising and advertising work, must not disclose their views on political candidates or issues or contentious public issues in any public manner or forum. This includes public display of bumper stickers, buttons and flags, soliciting petition signatures, participating in public demonstrations and rallies, posting or commenting on social media, or writing letters to the editor for newspaper or magazine publication. They should not volunteer or work for politicians or political campaigns or organizations. When editorial employees follow, friend or like the account or page of a political candidate or cause, they should seek to do so for accounts or pages on both sides of a campaign or cause.
When the Anchor solicits opinions for a story, online or in print, the solicitation should make clear that the Anchor is seeking all opinions, rather than one opinion or range of opinions. Even when not about contentious issues, posts to social media can affect the reputation of the Anchor as an unbiased and trustworthy news source. All employees should be careful to avoid dissemination of inaccurate or unconfirmed information.
Non-employee contributors, such as freelance and volunteer reporters and columnists, should be aware of the effect their statements may have on the Anchor’s reputation. They should avoid public statements that link their work for the Anchor to their views on contentious public issues and/or their political activity. When a freelance or volunteer reporter’s political activity and/or public statements on contentious public issues are known to the editor, the editor shall not assign that individual to report on those issues and/or activities.
Board members, volunteers and non-news and non-development employees, such as administrative staff, should avoid public statements and activities that express their views on contentious public issues and/or their political positions (for example, postings on social media, bumper stickers, lawn signs, provocative emails, signatures or tag lines) while engaged in Anchor-related business or in a manner that ties these personal expressions of opinion in any way to the Anchor. If an Anchor employee, volunteer or board member is uncertain whether a particular activity or statement would be prohibited by this policy, they should first discuss it with their supervisor, or the President or Vice President of the Board.