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The TAO of Journalism Pledge Cheat Sheet by

Publishers pledge to be Transparent
journalism     pledge     tao

The TAO of Journalism Pledge

A promise to your audience that you will be Transp­arent about who you are, Accoun­table for your mistakes, and Open to other points of view.

If you’re a legacy journa­list, a citizen journa­list, an indepe­ndent blogger, or anyone else practicing journalism in the broadest sense of the word, here’s an idea that can help you gain credib­ility and earn trust: Take the TAO Pledge and display the TAO Seal on your website, blog, printed page, newsle­tter, or wherever. Best of all, it’s FREE. No charge for TAO Pledgers.


We will fully disclose who we are, our journa­listic mission and our guiding princi­ples. We will post inform­ation on our background and expertise, including education and experi­ence. We will list advert­isers, donors, grants, and any other payments that support our work. If affiliated with a political party or specia­l-i­nterest group, we will disclose that. If lobbying for any particular legisl­ation or regula­tion, we will disclose that. If we are being paid to promote a product or cause, we will disclose that. If other factors could be seen as potential conflicts of interest, we will disclose them. (NOTE: The principle of transp­arency does not apply to confid­ential sources, who may still be protec­ted.)


If we get any facts wrong, we will admit that promptly and publicly. We will post/p­ubl­ish­/pr­int­/po­dca­st/­bro­adcast a correction or at least a clarif­ica­tion. We will fully explain what happened to cause the error or mistake. We will do a follow-up story if that is approp­riate, putting the original material in better context. We will apologize and promise to be more careful next time. We will show a little humility.

TAO of Journalism


If there are credible challenges to our point of view or simply differ­ences of opinion, we will be open to contrary positions. We will give the other side(s) opport­unity and space to express their views and engage in open public dialogue through comments or other means. If we are primarily engaged in opinion and commen­tary, rather than news reporting, we will make that clear – while inviting others to express their opinions through comment and feedback means.

We do not necess­arily agree to abide by any particular code of journalism ethics or profes­sional standards, although we may choose to do so. If we do, we will declare that publicly. If we don’t, we will declare that as well. We understand that this will not be enforced by any outside organized group. It will be overseen by everyone on the Internet who wants to see high standards of transp­arency, accoun­tab­ility and openness in journalism – through whatever media platform.

We understand that if someone using the “TAO Seal” starts violating its basic princi­ples, they will be admoni­shed, critic­ized, reprim­anded and embarr­assed in public through the awesome power of the Internet. Call it “crowd­sou­rcing” ethics and accuracy. In summary, we believe that Transp­arency, Accoun­tab­ility and Openness are keys to our personal credib­ility and public trust

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