Daily Kos is a progressive news site that fights for democracy by giving our audience information and resources to win elections and impact government.
We have looked to other respected news organizations, including the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists, to inform our Code of Ethics for our staff.
Accuracy and Fairness
- Accuracy is always our first priority. Writers are responsible for verifying information and providing context that does not misrepresent or oversimplify a story. Writers should not omit information that is crucial to the accuracy of the coverage. All commentary and opinion must be supported by facts and sources.
- Using other people’s words or ideas without attribution is plagiarism, and Daily Kos does not tolerate it.
- Using ChatGPT, Bing’s chatbot, or any other artificial intelligence to write content of any kind at Daily Kos, unless the content is about how artificial intelligence works, is strictly prohibited.
- Stories must include content warnings before pictures or videos of violence or other disturbing material. Such material should not be used as header photos.
Any member of the Daily Kos staff should notify editors of a factual error, whether in their work or that of a colleague, as soon as possible. When a published story includes a factual error, it must be corrected accurately, thoroughly, and quickly. A correction notice must be clearly identified as such and not as an editor’s note. This applies to all factual errors when they are discovered, no matter how old the story is or how recently it was published.
If a story is so problematic that it cannot be corrected, the text of the story should be removed and replaced with an editor’s note that clearly explains what was wrong with the story and why the text has been removed. A story should never simply disappear from the site. The headline on such a story should be changed to “Retracted.”
- Writers should choose sources that are informed, reliable, and reflective of the impact of the issues being reported and should include sources from underrepresented communities. Writers should give as much information as needed to identify the source and explain why the source is credible.
- Writers should cite and link to original (not aggregated) sources and material whenever possible.
Daily Kos’ coverage should aim to be as transparent as possible. For this reason, anonymous sources should only be used as a last resort and only after the writer has asked the source to go on the record. This includes any quotes on background or off the record. Material from anonymous sources may be used only if:
It is vital to the story and not merely opinion;
It is only available under the condition that the source remain anonymous;
It is provided by a credible and reliable source who is in a position to have direct knowledge of the information provided.
- Writers who want to use material from anonymous sources must get approval from the head of the Content Division before filing the story. The managing editor is responsible for vetting the material to ensure it meets Daily Kos’ guidelines. The managing editor and writer are required to keep the source’s identity confidential and to explain, in the story, the reason for the anonymity.
- Daily Kos staff should not accept gifts, favors, free travel, or special treatment from a source that could influence Daily Kos’ coverage, compromise its integrity, or damage its credibility.
- Items received for review, such as books and DVDs, may be kept by staff for professional reference or donated to charities. However, staff cannot sell such items.
- Daily Kos staff cannot fundraise or advocate for a person, cause, or organization within their stories that has not been approved by the Daily Kos Activism team and/or the Daily Kos Endorsements Committee.
- Daily Kos staff should not be influenced in their writing, community moderation activities, or other work-related duties by pressure from outside individuals or organizations.
- Daily Kos staff should always behave in a professional manner when representing or acting on behalf of Daily Kos.
Conflicts of Interest
- Daily Kos staff should not work on projects that could be considered a conflict of interest due to financial investment or past history.
- Any people or organizations with whom Daily Kos staff has prior history or relationships should not be provided special treatment or protection in content or community moderation decisions.
- If staff members perform paid or unpaid jobs for campaigns, candidates, or organizations, they cannot write about topics that relate in any way to that paid or unpaid work. (Phone banking and canvassing are excluded.)
As part of our mission to give our audience information and resources to win elections and impact government, Daily Kos endorses and fundraises for candidates for public office to help elect more and better Democrats. Endorsement decisions are made by Daily Kos’ endorsements team after carefully considering a wide range of factors. We strive to uphold the most scrupulous ethics in how we approach our endorsement program.
- Daily Kos does not connect vendors, consultants, staff, or any other providers of goods or services with endorsed campaigns. Major institutions routinely recommend their friends to campaigns or insist that particular firms be used in exchange for support. This is one of the most harmful practices in Democratic politics and is emblematic of the worst aspects of the political establishment. It promotes insular thinking, the elevation of mediocrity, and a deleterious “pay-for-play” culture. Daily Kos exists to reform such practices and will not engage in them. If and only if a campaign—without prompting—explicitly seeks our advice on such matters will we consider offering any recommendations.
- Daily Kos does not lobby endorsees who hold or win elective office any differently than we do non-endorsees. We do not use our influence (real or perceived) to ask office-holders to vote or otherwise act in any particular way. To do otherwise is to embrace the “access” culture of politics, whereby politicians reward donors for their donations. Daily Kos vehemently opposes this “access” culture and will not participate in it.
- Any person, inside or outside of our organization, who recommends an endorsement to Daily Kos must disclose any connection to the campaign in question, no matter how tenuous. Daily Kos believes in maximum transparency when it comes to all aspects of our work. This is particularly true of our endorsement program, because we are asking our community members to part with their money to support campaigns we have recommended to them. We can only evaluate campaigns fully and fairly if all information is disclosed to us, and it would be unethical to ask Daily Kos to support a campaign without disclosing any ties to that campaign.
- Daily Kos does not give special consideration to clients seeking endorsements. Clients and non-clients will be treated identically.
- Campaigns seeking endorsements may not offer inducements to Daily Kos staff or to the organization as a whole, and neither staff nor the company may accept any such inducements. Should any campaign seek to do so, staff must report any such attempts to the political director. Should the political director be the target of such efforts, they must report any such attempts to the company president.
Daily Kos accepts advertisements because they help pay the bills for the critical work that we do.
There is a division between the newsroom and the business side of Daily Kos, and the newsroom has no involvement in advertisements. Running an ad does not imply endorsement, and Daily Kos may accept and run ads on the site that do not reflect—and may, in fact, be contrary to—the views and values of the newsroom or Daily Kos staff at large.
That said, similar to our friends at publications like Mother Jones and The Nation, Daily Kos reserves the right to reject ads that it deems inappropriate or harmful to its brand, business interests, and community. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
Ads that use or promote false, misleading, hateful, or illegal content.
Ads designed to look like news stories when they are not.
Ads that mislead users about the outcome of clicking, such as a “close” icon that does not actually close the ad.
Ads that do not clearly indicate users will be required to make a payment of some kind.
Generally speaking, Daily Kos has a high opinion of its readers and believes they are quite intelligent and capable of independent evaluation of the advertising they consume here and elsewhere.
Many ads are provided by third-party networks, as this primer explains, and are not viewed by Daily Kos prior to appearing on our site. If you see an ad that you believe violates our standards, please contact us with the URL/website link in question so we can address it.