My Neighborhood News Network’s approach to editorial independence, conflicts of interest and donor transparency
We are dedicated to, and grateful for, the communities which make My Neighborhood News Network’s local journalism possible. To best represent the communities we serve and act in accordance with journalistic standards, we have established the below policies.
All three websites that are part of the My Neighborhood News Network (MNNN) – My Edmonds News, Lynnwood Today and MLTnews – follow the ethics and standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) and the Society of Professional Journalists.
We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from foundations, individuals, organizations, businesses and the community to help with our general operations, coverage of specific topics and special projects. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content. Our board of directors also does not have editorial discretion or influence on the newsroom.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
MNNN is committed to representing the diversity of the communities we serve. In the newsroom, our workplace and on our board, we promote an open environment inclusive of viewpoints and contributions regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, veteran or financial status, or abilities.
As a newsroom, we recognize the impacts of discrimination and strive to provide accurate and unbiased reporting that represents the many voices of our communities.
Donor transparency policy
My Neighborhood News Network is recognized as a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Operating as a public trust means we do not pay certain taxes and we may receive funds from standard government programs offered to nonprofits. It also means we are required to be nonpartisan and do not endorse candidates.
We are committed to transparency and make public all revenue sources and donors that contribute $5,000 or more per year.
Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions. We do not. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization and our news judgments and editorial policies are not influenced by donors or other funding sources. Donors do not assign, review or edit content. If a major donor is covered in a story or other editorial content, we disclose this at the bottom of the story.
We avoid accepting donations from political parties, elected officials or candidates seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, deemed by our board of directors, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with the Membership Standards of the Institute for Nonprofit News.
At the heart of our not-for-profit news organization is a commitment to serve our communities and hold the public’s trust paramount to the journalism we publish for all residents of Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Woodway and unincorporated South Snohomish County.
These policies are adapted from guidelines issued by the Institute for Nonprofit News.
Board Conflict of Interest Policy
Note: Conflict of Interest policies such as this are usually internal documents for staff and board members, but in the interest of transparency, INN recommends news organizations consider posting their conflict policies for public review as it provides readers with further insights into the ethics and news practices of your organization.
The following Financial Conflict of Interest Policy (“Conflict of Interest Policy”) is an effort (i) to ensure that the deliberations and decisions of My Neighborhood News Network (MNNN) are made solely in the interest of promoting the quality of journalism, and (ii) to protect the interests of MNNN when it considers any transaction, contract, or arrangement that might benefit or be perceived to benefit the private interest of a person affiliated with MNNN. As used in this Conflict of Interest Policy, a MNNN Representative includes any director, advisory board member, financial advisor, legal counsel or employee.
Duty to MNNN. Each MNNN Representative owes a duty to MNNN to advance MNNN’s legitimate interests when the opportunity to do so arises. Each MNNN Representative must give undivided allegiance when making decisions affecting the organization. Similarly, MNNN Representatives must be faithful to MNNN’s nonprofit mission and are not permitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with the central goals of the organization and its nonprofit status.
Gifts. No MNNN Representative shall personally accept gifts or favors that could compromise his or her loyalty to MNNN. Any gifts or benefits personally accepted from a party having a material interest in the outcome of MNNN or its employees by a MNNN Representative individually should be merely incidental to his or her role as a MNNN Representative and should not be of substantial value. Any gift with a value of $250 or more, or any gifts with a cumulative value in excess of $250 received by a MNNN Representative in any twelve-month period from a single source, shall be considered substantial. Cash payments may not be accepted, and no gifts should be accepted if there are strings attached. For example, no MNNN Representative may accept gifts if he or she knows that such gifts are being given to solicit his or her support of or opposition to the outcome or content of any MNNN publication.
Conflicts of Interest. The following are examples of conflicts of interest which must be promptly disclosed to the MNNN Board of Directors pursuant to Section 4 below by any MNNN Representative with knowledge of such conflict of interest:
(a) any real or apparent conflict of interest between a donor or the subject of a MNNN publication or report and a MNNN Representative;
(b) A MNNN Representative’s ownership of an equity interest in a person or entity that is or will be the subject of a MNNN publication or report; and
(c) failure to disclose to MNNN all relationships between the subject of any MNNN publication or report and any MNNN Representative or close relatives of the MNNN Representative.
(a) If a MNNN Representative or party related to a MNNN Representative has an interest in any contract, action or transaction to be entered into with MNNN, a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest exists. Any MNNN Representative having knowledge that such a conflict of interest exists or may exist (an “Interested MNNN Representative”) will so advise the Board of Directors promptly. An Interested MNNN Representative will include in the notice the material facts as to the relationship or interest of the Interested MNNN Representative in the entity proposing to enter into a contract, action or transaction with MNNN.
(b) Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the Board of Directors may authorize any committee appointed pursuant to the MNNN bylaws (a “Committee”) to act in lieu of the Board of Directors in determining whether an action, contract or transaction is fair to MNNN as of the time it is authorized or approved by the Committee.
(c) At any time that a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest is identified, the Board Chair or a Chair of the applicable Committee will ensure that such conflict of interest is placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable. The notice of such meeting of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will include, to the extent available when the notice is sent, a description of the conflict of interest matter to be discussed. By notice before the meeting or at the meeting, the directors on the board or the Committee, as applicable, will be advised that a vote will be taken at the meeting and that, in order to authorize the relevant contract, action or transaction, an affirmative vote of a majority of disinterested directors present at the meeting at which a quorum is present will be required and will be sufficient, even though the disinterested directors constitute less than a quorum of the Board of Directors or the Committee.
(d) Reasonable effort will be made to cause the material facts concerning the relationships between the individuals and MNNN which create the conflict to be delivered to and shared with the members of the Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, prior to the meeting to enable the directors to arrive at the meeting prepared to discuss the issue and vote on the matter. In the event it is not practicable to deliver the information prior to the meeting, it will be delivered to the directors at the meeting, and the directors can act upon the matter with the same authority as if notice had been given prior to the meeting.
(e) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will invite all parties to the conflict of interest to attend the meeting, to make presentations and to be prepared to answer questions, if necessary. The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will also invite outside experts if necessary.
(f) At the meeting, providing a quorum is present, the conflict will be discussed to ensure that the directors present are aware of the issues and the factors involved. The interested directors may be counted for purposes of a quorum, even though they may not take part in any vote on the issues.
(g) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, must decide, in good faith, reasonably justified by the material facts, whether the action, contract or transaction would be in the best interest of MEMBER and fair to MEMBER as of the time it is authorized or approved.
(h) All interested directors must abstain from voting and, if desired as determined by the disinterested directors, leave the room when the vote is taken.
(i) Upon determination and vote that there is or has been a conflict of interest, the Board of Directors may take any action it deems appropriate to protect the integrity of MNNN, including but not limited to removal of the person with the conflict from any position or office in MNNN.
(j) The Board of Directors or the Committee, as applicable, will maintain a written account of all that transpires at the meeting and incorporate such account into the minutes of the meeting and disseminate it to the full Board of Directors. Such minutes will be presented for approval at the next meeting of the Board of Directors and maintained in the corporate record book.
(k) To the extent that the conflict of interest is continuing and the contract, action or transaction goes beyond one (1) year, the foregoing notice and discussion and vote will be repeated on an annual basis.
Personal Loans. MNNN may not loan to, or guarantee the personal obligations of, any MNNN Representative.