Code of Ethics

The Food & Environment Reporting Network, Inc., is an independent, non-profit news organization that produces investigative reporting in the areas of food, agriculture, and environmental health. Our aim is to unearth truth about the subjects we investigate, and in so doing, develop a relationship of trust with our readership. In our work, we will:

  • Strive to produce accurate and thoroughly reported stories;
  • Partner with media outlets to provide the highest-quality editorial content to the widest possible audience;
  • Preserve total editorial independence from our funders, maintaining a strict firewall with our editorial operations; and
  • Operate without hidden agendas or biases.

The public’s right to know is our primary responsibility. We take our role in revitalizing and amplifying reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health very seriously, recognizing both a desire on the part of the public to understand a range of issues that have been under-reported for decades, as well as the impact such reporting could have on government, industry, and on the livelihoods of those who work within them. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to us that we follow specific guidelines in our news-gathering, reporting, editing, and publishing to assure that our reporting is grounded in accuracy, impartiality, fairness, and reasoned analysis.


Our reporters will seek reliable sources on the subjects they cover and will make every attempt to get those sources on the record. We will only quote unidentified sources when these sources are deemed highly reliable and provide information vital to a story. In this case, editors will be informed of these sources and we will protect their anonymity.

We will not distort the news with misleading or sensational headlines, labeling or video or audio editing.

We do not misrepresent ourselves when we pursue stories, nor do we gather information illegally. We are identified as Food and Environment Reporting Network journalists. However, in order to thoroughly report in areas where press access is severely limited, our reporters may go undercover. We will only do so as a last resort and will fully explain our reporting techniques in the story.

We will employ independent fact-checkers to verify the work of our reporters or work in conjunction with other media outlets to do so.

Corrections will be published as soon as any errors are discovered.


We avoid conflicts of interest–real or perceived–by refusing special treatment, and favors, and by refraining from political involvement. We will also avoid investment trading in any companies we cover. When conflicts are unavoidable, we will disclose them. We subscribe to the Institute of Nonprofit News’s standards of editorial independence.

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We will maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.

Our organization, and the reporters it engages, refuse gifts, favors, fees, in-kind or other special treatment and will not accept or report on any content that has been financially supported by the subject matter unless it is specifically disclosed as sponsored content. In other words, we do not allow pay-to-play reporting that may compromise impartiality of our content.

We do accept charitable gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

Our organization also may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

A firewall will be maintained between our editors, journalists, and funders. Funders will have no say in our editorial process, nor will we accept money from funders under the condition that we cover certain stories, or address subjects, with a predetermined slant.

We will support an open exchange of viewpoints. In doing so, we will work to assure that we report facts and present reasoned interpretations and analyses.

We do not pay for interviews or documents.

We do not show sources, third parties unaffiliated with the Food and Environment Reporting Network or our funders drafts of our work before it is published.

We do not grant interview subjects the right to review their quotes.


We will make every attempt to make sure a story is complete, omitting no facts or areas of significance. Our reporters will diligently seek out the subjects of our stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing on the record.

While we will avoid ad hominem attacks on individuals, institutions, and organizations, we may offer well-reasoned critiques of them. However, our reporters will provide subjects of our stories the opportunity to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.

We do not plagiarize, nor do we stage, fictionalize or fabricate any part of our stories.

We will not stereotype by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.