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Avoiding and Disclosing Conflicts of Interest

What is a conflict of interest?

When someone reads a story in The Journal, they should be able to trust that the information is being presented accurately, fairly and with the proper context. Content should seek to pursue and report the truth, however simple or complex or inconvenient, and not serve agendas contrary to the public interest or the mission, vision, and values of the organization. It is through the honest, thoughtful and fair exploration of civic issues that the magazine contributes to building a public square for all to lead.

In the journalistic context, factors that get in the way of fairness and reporting truth, or risk creating perceptions that what is being reported might not be true or fair, can become conflicts of interest. Conflicts can arise because of financial holdings, family ties and relationships, non-reporting financial arrangements, among many others.

Board members and key management personnel at the Kansas Leadership Center, including the executive editor of The Journal, annually sign conflict of interest statements to help protect the interests of KLC when entering into a transaction or arrangement.

Because The Journal disseminates civic information to a wide audience, anyone submitting editorial content to The Journal – whether they are a full-time staff member, freelance contributor or guest commentator – should understand that they must meet professionally accepted standards related to conflicts of interest as detailed by the Society of Professional Journalists.

This includes, to briefly summarize the SPJ:

  • Avoiding conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and disclosing unavoidable conflicts.
  • Not accepting special treatment and avoiding activities that would damage journalistic credibility.
  • Not paying sources or providing favors for information.
  • Identifying content from outside sources.
  • Not providing favored coverage to advertisers, donors or other special interests or letting them dictate coverage.
  • Distinguishing journalistic content from promotional content and clearly labeling any sponsored content.

Freelance contributors play important roles in helping The Journal cover civic issues and are valued members of our editorial team. We expect freelance contributors to be transparent with editors by disclosing as soon as they know that their work with other organizations or clients might present a conflict of interest to reporting on a subject for The Journal. Potential conflicts will be disclosed publicly when necessary to further audience’s understanding. Whenever possible, The Journal’s editors will assign or re-assign stories to ensure that conflicts are minimized or eliminated.

The Kansas Leadership Center serves many grantees and clients who contract with the center for custom business or civic engagement services. The Journal will disclose when its coverage touches entities that KLC engages with through those initiatives.

If you have questions or concerns, please write us at thejournal@kansasleadershipcenter.org.