The Venetoulis Institute for Local Journalism takes seriously the matter of establishing clear boundaries of engagement with regard to external funders / sponsors and the newsroom of its flagship publication, The Baltimore Banner. Editorial oversight and direction of any funded project will take place independent of input from donors. No attempts will be made to direct or interfere with the editorial approach or decision-making around any funded project expressed through the reporting and coverage of The Baltimore Banner.
Regarding editorial authority, the Editor-in-Chief and newsroom personnel alone determine both the broad areas of coverage and any priority areas for focused investigative reporting. Story selection is also the sole purview of the Editor-in-Chief, editors, and the newsroom personnel. Funders and sponsors will not enjoy favored or privileged access to reporters and editors. Donor interaction will be limited to briefings on content coverage plans, written progress updates on donor-supported editorial initiatives, and invitations to events where journalists are speaking.
In the interest of transparency, funders of supported editorial coverage will be identified alongside or adjacent to the content their support has made possible.
For more information on the newsroom’s overall ethics policies, please click here.
Policies on Gift Acceptance:
The Venetoulis Institute accepts charitable gifts and sponsorships from named companies, individuals, and foundations for use by TBB or any additional nonprofit news outlets the nonprofit Institute may operate in the future. These gifts may be accepted for unrestricted support of the newsroom and editorial functions, or they can be restricted to broad areas of coverage that are predetermined by the newsroom. Examples include support for themed coverage in healthcare, government, criminal justice, arts and entertainment, etc.
The Venetoulis Institute accepts charitable gifts in support of specific editorial projects. The Institute will only accept anonymous gifts greater than $1,000 for unrestricted support of the newsroom. The names of donors who give more than $1,000 will be disclosed if the gift in question is designated toward a specific coverage area or news initiative.
The Venetoulis Institute does not accept charitable gifts from elected officials, per IRS regulations governing 501c(3) organizations.
Any charitable gift or sponsorship to the Institute of $1 million or more requires the approval of the Institute’s Board of Directors prior to acceptance.
The Venetoulis Institute reserves the right to decline or return any charitable gift where the Institute or editorial leadership of TBB perceive the support could create the appearance of bias or a conflict of interest. The Institute also reserves this right in instances where the donor’s public dealings create potential reputational risks for the nonprofit organization or its publishing entities.
These policies will be displayed and linked prominently on any websites of news and journalism entities operating under the umbrella of the Venetoulis Institute for Local Journalism.
The Venetoulis Institute is required to ensure that all gifts meet the benchmark for charitable and education support as required by IRS regulations.