Behind Journalism: How The Times Works

Our ethical guidelines state that journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics. Of course, staff members have the right to vote, but they must not do anything that would undermine their professional neutrality or that of The Times.

  • Support candidates

  • Donate money or raise funds for a political candidate or electoral cause

  • Find a public office

  • Wear campaign buttons

  • March or rally in support of public causes or movements

But just because our reporters and editors don’t participate in political events doesn’t mean they don’t care deeply about certain issues. That’s why we urge them to be aware of their own biases and to think about how someone with an opposing point of view might think about the topics they cover. Framing and characterizing all viewpoints with fairness and depth is at the heart of our approach to reporting.

Our reputation for independence is based on the public’s belief that we can carry out our work without influence or overt bias.


Do you have questions about how the New York Times works? Let us know at [email protected]

“The Times’ primary responsibility is to give readers accurate information, and our readers trust us to do that. By acknowledging our mistakes quickly and transparently, we build on this fundamental trust. »

Rogene Jacquette, proofreader

We recognize an ethical responsibility to correct all factual errors, large and small, promptly and in a conspicuous place. We encourage readers to contact us at [email protected] when they spot a possible error.

  • First, we determine if we made a mistake. We contact relevant journalists and editors and, if a correction is warranted, we adjust the article and add the correction.

  • Even when we catch an error seconds after posting, we still acknowledge it with a correction. There is no five second rule.

  • Corrections should appear in all editions (print and digital) or platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) that carried the error. We also fix errors in newsletters, videos and podcasts like “The Daily”.

  • For obvious typos, we correct the error without adding a correction.

During breaking news, there are times when incorrect information becomes history and doesn’t need correction: a death toll may be lowered, the number of suspects may change, or officials may correct an earlier statement. We usually explain these changes in the update article and do not add a fix.


Do you have questions about how the New York Times works? Let us know at [email protected]

“Our job is to never allow it to become routine and, once we’ve confirmed it, to respond and cover it aggressively, as if it were the very first one we’ve covered.”

Marc Lacey, editor

The national office receives reports of active shooter situations in the United States at least once a day. We start by monitoring the situation and confirming the details. Within 24 hours of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, The Times had at least 25 reporters and 15 editors working on the story.

  • Use the suspect’s name sparingly and never in headlines or social media posts.

  • Avoid descriptions that are cinematic or lack attribution and source.

  • Consult photo and standards editors before posting graphic images or photos of the suspect.

  • Focus on the experience of the victims and survivors of the shooting and less on the shooter.

  • Verify any witness or victim information found on social media and contact the person who posted it.

We release the suspect’s name when it is confirmed by authorities. But we don’t want to give the person too much importance. There is evidence that media coverage can be a motivating factor for future mass shootings.

We generally avoid posting images in which the suspect is seen brandishing weapons. We will explain any ideology that may have influenced the shooter’s actions, but we generally do not post or link to manifestos containing rationales for the attack.

Our reporters try to find out as much as possible about the suspect and approach anyone who may have encountered the person. We complement the interviews with an in-depth review of public records. We want to give readers the meaning of human tragedy, so it is necessary to call the relatives of those who died in such circumstances.


Do you have questions about how the New York Times works? Let us know at [email protected]

“Journalists and editors must be relentless and skeptical in handling anonymous sourcing. It should never be routine or occasional.

Phil Corbett, Standards Editor

“Speaking on condition of anonymity…”

“Discussed the incident on the condition that they are not named…”

“According to people familiar with…”

You’ve probably seen these phrases in Times articles, but what exactly do they mean?

Our reports are based on sources. These can be officials, witnesses, records — basically anyone or anything that can provide information on a particular topic. When we do not disclose a human source by name, that person is considered an anonymous source. It is our guidelines that these sources should only be used for information that we believe is newsworthy and credible, and that we are unable to report in any other way.

But why does the Times protect the identity of certain sources? We recognize that the use of anonymous sources is sometimes crucial for our journalistic mission. It can give readers real insight into the uses and abuses of power – in Washington, on Wall Street and beyond. In sensitive areas like national security reporting, this may be unavoidable. Sources sometimes risk their careers, their freedom and even their lives by talking to us.

  • How do they know the information?

  • What is their motivation for telling us?

  • Have they proven themselves in the past?

  • Can we corroborate the information they provide?

Because using anonymous sources puts a strain on our most valuable asset: the trust of our readers, the reporter and at least one editor are required to know the identity of the source. A newsroom editor must also approve the use of information provided by the source.


Do you have questions about how the New York Times works? Let us know at [email protected]

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