1) Ensure your sources are solid, knowledgeable, and the best voice available for the given topic. Also, make sure you are aware of anything you've made a deal with them about, such as anonymity. If a person is to be left anonymous, the journalist and staff will ensure all safeguards are put in place to ensure anonymity is maintained. If the source has a vendetta or axe to grind, include the source's bias in your reporting. Confidential sources should be used as sparingly as possible. A court cannot weigh your source or the validity of the information they gave you if they cannot defend you in that same courtroom. If you have an anonymous source, assume people will believe that you have made it all up. An on-the-record named source is always the best option.
2) Comment, comment, comment. Always go to the "other side" with everything you are going to publish. Always ask questions. Comment, comment, comment. Always bake-in their side of the story. Our rule is "no surprises journalism.” Produce content that you would respect finding on the front page of every news site, if you or your (in)actions were the focus of the content.
3) The more damning a story is, the more care you should show the story. The "other side" is not a villain and they will never be referred to in such a manner. Everyone deserves to be written about in a rigorous, complex, and intriguing way, because they are human, too. Your tone needs to reflect the seriousness of the story. You are not a jury. Make sure you write directly down the middle.
4) Did you attribute accurately? Do not editorialize content. We are human, so we have opinions, but they will not be tolerated in our content. Be sure you are not turning accusations into facts.
5) Fairness is broad, but is the article fair? Can we back up the article with supporting materials and facts? Do not jump to conclusions. Do not characterize things. When writing, stick to the facts and what you understand to be accurate. Always.
6) Don't be vague. Do not insinuate. Do not suggest. Be concise. Be thorough. Be accurate. If you don't know it, don't imply it. If you're not totally sure, you need to be sure. And if you're not sure, keep reporting until you are sure. And if you’re wrong, admit it. Don’t hide your mistakes or nobody will trust us.
7) Be careful to not violate privacy laws. You need to be very careful about anything you write with health history, abuse of any kind, job history, adultery, and anything that is personal, private or embarrassing. You must make it clear as to why the average person should care and why it will matter to them. Always say things straight up. Don't inflate things. If you need one nugget or your story falls apart, you’re simply not done reporting.
8) Statements of an opinion must be supported by facts. Make sure you have not made any torts when doing your reporting. Make sure you do everything cleanly, and do not make decisions on your own. Always ask an editor if you're not sure if you've broken the law. Have you told everyone who you are and what you're doing. Always tell the truth. If you lie, you will not write for us. Ever.
9) Do not break any contracts or embargoes for any amount of information. If you say something, stand by it, but you need to have asked the editor first.
10) There are a host of international laws. Do not violate any international laws.