Rules of Engagement: EnviroNews Interview Policy for Journalists, Reporters, Editors and Producers

When conducting an interview, the journalist, editor or producer is representing EnviroNews (the Company) and, in a specified capacity, acting on behalf of the Company. All EnviroNews personnel should adhere to these rules of engagement at all times:

  1. EnviroNews¬†advocates and practices a “front door” approach in its journalism and only in the rarest of circumstances, and typically with an exceptionally hostile subject matter, will the Company consider allowing a reporter to engage in “ambush journalism” in an effort to obtain comment. Reporters should reach out to potential subjects in person, via phone or through their official EnviroNews email account to make initial contact and should always identify themselves as an on-duty EnviroNews reporter. Reporters should encourage the subject (repeatedly if necessary) to speak with them on-the-record. This is always true except for in very special undercover circumstances, or when a subject of public interest is intentionally skirting accountability by dodging the press. Besides these rare exceptions, interviews should be conducted on consensual grounds and at a mutually agreed-upon time and place.
  2. All email interviews and correspondence must be conducted in-house on EnviroNews servers via an official @EnviroNews.TV email account. Reporters, editors and producers are strongly discouraged from communicating with subjects for a story outside of EnviroNews‘ official channels.
  3. EnviroNews reporters and journalists should always CC (carbon copy) or BCC (blind carbon copy) their story editor onto all correspondence with subjects and interviewees, and this is considered best practice. This is for accountability and for the reporter’s own protection. There are very few exceptions to this. At a minimum, the reporter should forward the entire email thread to their editor immediately after the correspondence occurs, though it is better to have the editor included from the onset, which allows them to monitor the thread as it develops. Likewise, reporters conducting phone, video, Facetime, Zoom and other such interviews are required to generate a recording (and in some cases, a written transcript) of the correspondence and to send it as soon as possible to their story editor, who will in-turn forward the recording to the deputy editor and/or editor-in-chief. EnviroNews reporters, editors and producers should be aware that all content generated inside of an EnviroNews sanctioned interview is the sole property of EnviroNews and shall also receive immediate copyright protection upon completion via news copyright laws of the United States. EnviroNews and its executives pledge to their journalists to use the interview in good faith and for news reporting purposes, and to defer to normal in-house processes of new production wherein the reporter works with their editor, who in-turn works with the managing editor and/or deputy editor, who in-turn works with the editor-in-chief to deliver a story in which the reporter and all involved EnviroNews personnel in the chain-of-command are comfortable and satisfied.
  4. All news production personnel shall properly identify themselves as an on-duty EnviroNews reporter, editor or producer when contacting a subject to request an interview.
  5. Interviewing subjects for a story with which the reporter has a personal relationship or history is generally discouraged. If this is ever prudent, or happens by sheer necessity, the reporter should disclose that there is a prior relationship with the subject. Generally, reporters should target subjects with whom they have no previous personal or business relationship.
  6. A journalist should avoid showing their cards before conducting an interview. Although it may be clear to both interviewer and interviewee what the general topic is beforehand, under no circumstance should an EnviroNews reporter, editor or producer ever reveal questions they will ask, or discuss specific lines of questioning, before the interview begins. It is common for subjects to not understand this ground rule and to ask and to want to know what questions the interviewer is going to ask. All EnviroNews reporters should politely decline to answer if asked to reveal questions ahead of the interview.
  7. EnviroNews, nor any of its news personnel, shall ever pay or offer payment of any kind to an interview subject. Because we are an old-school news production company, this is ethically impossible. The Company maintains the highest in journalistic standards. Conversely, EnviroNews reporters, editors and producers should never accept payment, favors or gifts from an interview subject. This rule does not apply to expert correspondents or pundits that could be employed by EnviroNews, and that may be interviewed and offer expert opinion during a newscast. The Company currently maintains zero paid correspondents, and prefers to hire journalists not pundits.
  8. On-the-record/off-the-record: EnviroNews reporters should understand that unless otherwise noted, anything any person says, without a reasonable expectation of privacy, and within the reporter’s sensory proximity, should be considered “fair game” and on-the-record. However, this policy is best applied with stringency to public officials, public figures, and persons accustomed to dealing with the press. EnviroNews reporters are strongly encouraged to use discretion, and to avoid gathering news in a nuisance-like manner that does not reflect well on the Company, and to use this privilege for the public good and not to expose ordinary citizens who wish to remain anonymous.
  9. In general, EnviroNews reporters, editors and producers shall not agree to off-limits topics beforehand with an interview subject, and shall accept no such terms. To do so may weaken the reporter’s position and/or allow the subject to gain control of the conversation. To exclude subject matters may also may water down the interview, removing essential topics from the discussion. This is a never-say-never situation, but to date, the Company policy is not to allow such terms, and to do so would require a remarkable set of circumstances. In over a twelve years, EnviroNews has never agreed to any off-limits topics with an interviewee.
  10. When interviewing a traumatized person, EnviroNews reporters, editors and producers are urged to act sensitively and to take extra special care handling the source. It is also pertinent to add extra explanation of the ground-rules and to clarify how the content will be used with any traumatized sources.
  11. Last by not least, EnviroNews handles whistleblowers, both anonymous and otherwise, with the utmost care, and protecting whistleblowers and their sensitive information is both a cornerstone and a hallmark of the Company. Sources wishing to bring forth critical information for the public good, but who insist on remaining anonymous should be consulted and asked if there is a set of circumstances where they would feel comfortable putting their name behind the information on-the-record. A journalist in this situation should always explain to the source that speaking on the record under their true identity will always offer the highest and most expeditious path to credibility. If however, the source insists on remaining anonymous, this creates a more complicated situation, but one EnviroNews is accustomed to dealing with. First, the reporter should ask the subject if they will agree to involving the story editor, and possibly the editor-in-chief in the vetting of them personally, their story and their uniquely sensitive information. If the source will not agree to this, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for EnviroNews to stand behind the story and proceed with publishing. Most importantly, as an ethical journalist, editor or producer, EnviroNews news team members agree to never reveal the identity of an anonymous whistleblower — even under the threat of prosecution or imprisonment. EnviroNews agrees to always stand behind any of its journalists persecuted for reporting on sensitive information, and agrees to do its best to rally journalism advocacy organizations to the case and to cover any ensuing legal expenses to the best of the Company’s ability.