Editorial Independence Policy

Guiding principles for our nonprofit newsroom

Editorial independence

  • The Badger Project will retain editorial control. It will not relinquish legal and ethical responsibilities to funders or to the public.
  • The Badger Project will not allow pre-publication editorial review, and will never accept directed conclusions from funders.
  • The Badger Project will not promise outcomes in advance.
  • The Badger Project will review whether to accept and how to handle funds for limited purposes, such as coverage of a beat or issue, especially if funders have an interest in related policy outcomes.
  • The Badger Project will not accept donations from any organization or individual that could be considered a conflict of interest.


  • The Badger Project will aim for the highest practicable degree of transparency regarding editorial, donor and business standards and operations, both as a matter of journalistic integrity and because of the transparency journalists demand from other institutions.
  • The Badger Project will clearly disclose their ethics policies, mission statements, conflict of interest policies and fundraising policies on their website.
  • The Badger Project will clearly disclose their federal tax returns, audited financial statements and basic information about the staff and board of directors on their website; they will also explain how to contact the newsroom to report errors or make complaints on their websites.
  • Donor information will be readily available to the public. The public will know who paid for the journalism. Projects funded by specific funders will include notifications to the public.
  • The Badger Project will consider in advance how funding decisions will be explained to the public, including critics. The Badger Project will avoid acceptance of funding when it would compromise the integrity or credibility of the journalism.
  • The Badger Project will also encourage all donors to be public and will explain the importance of transparency to the credibility and impact their work

Communications with funders

  • Independent journalism is a public good. Journalism can produce impact and change, but The Badger Project cannot and will not promise specific outcomes. The news organization can, however, summarize what they have learned during the course of their work.
  • The Badger Project will clearly inform funders of the news organization’s mission and guiding values.
  • The Badger Project will help funders understand that support for independent media is in their interest and differs from that of PR and advocacy organizations.
  • The Badger Project has a strong preference for general support on the principle that it best preserves independent journalism.
  • When civic or community engagement is part of a grant, journalists and funders will agree in advance on what that means.
  • When possible, The Badger Project, not funders, will initiate conversations about the journalism they wish to produce. In cases where a funder contacts The Badger Project first, it is better if the coverage areas being discussed should already be part of the news organization’s portfolio, or on a list of projects or beats for which the journalists are seeking funding.

These guidelines come from the American Press Institute.