Your Source For The Arts In Atlanta

Statement of Editorial Independence and Ethics

ARTS ATL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2009 to provide free, independent journalistic reporting, analysis and criticism of the arts and arts institutions in Atlanta. We are affiliated with no governmental or religious entities and have no institutional agenda for advocacy.

As a nonprofit, we enter into business and funding relationships with advertisers, grant-makers and corporations to provide revenue to cover the cost of producing our work. The business and marketing sides of ARTS ATL are overseen by our Publisher and marketing team. What ARTS ATL covers editorially and how it chooses to cover it is decided entirely by the best judgment of our writers and editors, who operate independently of the Publisher. Editorial coverage will never be influenced by financial or in-kind agreements with outside entities.

Our top leadership and our Board of Directors all must review and sign a Conflict of Interest Policy. All editorial staff and contributors must review our Code of Ethics:


The relationship between a publication and its readers is based on a reader’s trust in the publication’s integrity, independence and honesty. ARTS ATL strives to maintain that trust through ethical guidelines for the publication, its editors and its writers.

Our editorial integrity is paramount, and to be zealously protected. Reviewers in particular are often scrutinized for the slightest whiff of favoritism. Our writers have a special duty to guard against conflicts of interest or the appearance of a conflict. If we lose credibility or if readers believe we do not have integrity, we cannot succeed in our mission.

Our credibility and integrity as an organization is critical to our very existence, and ARTS ATL strives to maintain the highest standards of journalistic ethics. These guidelines apply to any editor, staff member or freelance writer whose work directly affects the content of ARTS ATL. Our experience is most freelance writers understand the need for high standards of ethics and self-impose these standards. Any deliberate violation of these guidelines may lead to disciplinary action, potentially including dismissal.

Potential conflicts abound within the arts community and those who write about it for ARTS ATL. Our staff and freelance writers are expected to read this document carefully, and consider how it might apply to them and their duties. No written document can anticipate every potential conflict of interest or situation. When in doubt, reach out to your editor.

Our ethical guidelines include:

— Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. The arts community in Atlanta is a small tribe and conflicts are sometimes unavoidable between a writer and the subject of an article. Writers should report any potential conflicts to their editor during the assigning process; in general, if the writer feels there may be a conflict, there most often is a conflict. We want to avoid writing stories or reviews about events that involve spouses, close friends, family or close working relationships. A writer, for example, cannot review a theater performance that stars a close friend or family member, or if that writer is on the theater’s board of directors. A dance writer, for example, cannot review a show hosted by the college that employs them as a dance instructor. A writer, in addition, should not review a show that involves someone where there is personal animus.

When conflicts are minor and unavoidable, as they sometimes are, we will include a “full disclosure” in the article in order to be transparent about that conflict.

In all cases, ARTS ATL depends on writers to disclose potential problems in a timely manner so that we can work together to maintain our editorial integrity and prevent embarrassment for our writers and ARTS ATL.

— We place a high premium on our editorial independence. Our editorial and publishing departments are strictly separate. We do not give favored treatment to advertisers, donors, board members or any other special interests, and we resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage. We will include a “full disclosure” if a story involves ARTS ATL donors, board members or someone else associated with the site.

ARTS ATL writers and editors should refuse gifts, favors, fees and special treatment from the organizations we cover, such as free tickets to events that are not related to our work for ARTS ATL. An ARTS ATL theater critic, for example, can accept a press pass to a theatrical performance they are not reviewing for ARTS ATL because seeing as many shows as possible is part of their job. But accepting free tickets from a theater to a rock concert it is hosting is not allowed. In judging these potential conflicts, we always want to lean towards decisions that protect the credibility and integrity of ARTS ATL.

— We do not pay or give favors in exchange for access to the news.

— Staff members and freelance writers may not accept gifts, tickets, discounts or swag. Exceptions may be made for items of nominal value, under $25, such as coffee mugs or caps with a company logo. There is also an exceptions for gifts or discounts available to the general public.

— Staff members and freelance writers may not accept anything that could be construed as a payment for favorable coverage, or as an inducement to alter or forgo unfavorable coverage.

— Our writers should avoid enmeshing themselves with people they write about in terms giving advice or helping an artist develop, market or promote their creative endeavors. ARTS ATL editors may not serve on advisory boards, awards juries, study committees or other panels formed by people or organizations that we cover.

— We will respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness. We will acknowledge mistakes, and correct them promptly and prominently.

— Our writers and editors must take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Writers must verify information before reporting it, and use original sources whenever possible.

— In terms of news stories, we value fairness and accuracy and context. We take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify what we are writing about. We will be diligent in seeking subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing. We will never deliberately distort facts or context to fit an agenda. We do not have an agenda, other than to accurately report what happened.

— Plagiarism is passing off another person’s work (or part of a work) as your own. We do not plagiarize. Period. Always freely and willingly give attribution when using information from a published source. Any writer who plagiarizes the work of someone else, or who knowingly or recklessly provides false information for publication betrays our fundamental pact with our readers. It is grounds for dismissal and can be devastating to a writer’s career.

— We do not submit editorial content to advertisers or the subjects of a story for pre-publication approval. Fact-checking with a source is allowed. In cases of a sensitive story, we will sometimes read a source’s quote back to them for accuracy. But when doing so, we do not give the source the blanket right to change or “walk back” quotes if we are certain of their accuracy. We generally don’t allow sources to “take back” something they said unless it involves accuracy or context.

— Our part-time section editors and freelance writers are entitled to accept assignments from competing publications such as the AJC, Creative Loafing and Atlanta Magazine.

— Full time ARTS ATL staff members are entitled to accept freelance assignments that do not directly compete with ARTS ATL’s own offerings. Work for competitors will not be permitted unless it is a story that ARTS ATL is not interested in publishing. Our competitors include any newspaper, magazine or other media publication with an editorial focus on Atlanta with coverage of the arts. Full time staff members must ensure that their freelance work does not interfere with their responsibilities to ARTS ATL, and should practice full disclosure with the executive editor when they accept freelance work that includes arts coverage.

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