Mission Statement

Montana Free Press is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit source for Montana news, information and analysis.

Our mission is to produce in-depth public-service journalism that creates positive change and helps move society toward justice.

MTFP seeks to uncover the truth and bring to light essential news stories by studying arcane bureaucratic processes, seeking out dark corners of major institutions, digging deep into data and documents, and holding power accountable to the people.

We work independently and in collaboration with other news outlets to produce meaningful news stories that have an impact on the lives and livelihoods of local communities.

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Code of Ethics

Montana Free Press conducts its business with the highest standards of decency, fairness and accuracy. These standards shall apply equally to Montana Free Press employees, freelancers and all others engaged in gathering information on behalf of Montana Free Press, all of whom will receive a copy of these ethical standards. In the course of our reporting, we will consistently:

  • Identify our organization and ourselves fully and avoid false representations of any kind to any source.
  • Notify all sources before electronically recording any interview or conversation. If a source refuses to be taped, that must be honored; no recordings are to be made without consent.
  • Respect the individual’s right to privacy. Montana Free Press will never manipulate or barter private, personal, health, financial or other extraneous information in the course of preparing its reports.
  • Any source we describe or write about in any significant manner must be contacted. The employee should document all efforts to contact the source, and if unsuccessful, should summarize these efforts at contact in the body of his/her writing.

In addition, Montana Free Press subscribes to the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists. Reprinted below in full is Sigma Delta Chi’s first Code of Ethics, borrowed from the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Preamble

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.

Seek Truth and Report It

Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

  • Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
  • Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
  • Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
  • Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
  • Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
  • Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
  • Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
  • Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story.
  • Never plagiarize.
  • Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
  • Examine his/her own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
  • Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
  • Support the open exchange of views, even views he/she finds repugnant.
  • Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
  • Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
  • Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
  • Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

Minimize Harm

Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:

  • Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
  • Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
  • Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
  • Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
  • Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
  • Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
  • Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
  • Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

Act Independently

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.

Journalists should:

  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
  • Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
  • Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
  • Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
  • Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
  • Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Be Accountable

Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Journalists should:

  • Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
  • Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
  • Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
  • Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
  • Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

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Diversity and Inclusion

Inclusiveness is at the heart of thinking and acting as journalists, The complex issues we face as a society require respect for different viewpoints. Race, class, generation, disability, gender and geography all affect point of view. Reflecting these differences in our reporting leads to better, more nuanced stories and a better-informed community.

Diverse Staffing Report

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Ownership

Montana Free Press is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

MTFP is supported by individuals and organizations who value in-depth, investigative news coverage and analysis. We are an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that retains 100% authority over our editorial content to protect the journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services, or opinions.

MTFP accepts gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

MTFP may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.
Please see our donor transparency page for more information.

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Founding Date

Montana Free Press was founded in February 2016

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Masthead

John S. Adams. Executive Director/Editor-in-Chief
jadams@montanafreepress.org

Brad Tyer, Editor
btyer@montanafreepress.org

Eric Dietrich, Deputy Editor
edietrich@montanafreepress.org

Alex Sakariassen, Reporter
asakariassen@montanafreepress.org

Amanda Eggert, Reporter
aeggert@montanafreepress.org

Mara Silvers, Reporter
msilvers@montanafreepress.org

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Corrections

Montana Free Press strives to be accurate and complete in its news reporting. However, while we are diligent in our reporting and editing processes, we are not immune to mistakes. When a mistake is discovered, we issue a correction. These corrections serve both the reader and the public record as a way of maintaining trust and upholding our journalistic ethics.

We are accountable to both ourselves and our readers for the accuracy of the information we publish in stories, headlines, photos, data visualizations, social media and any other content on our website and every other platform where we publish our reporting. When a correction is required, we make clear to readers the correct information and the context of the mistake. 

If you believe Montana Free Press has made a factual error in its reporting, we encourage you to contact us at corrections@montanafreepress.org with the location and nature of the mistake. Our editorial staff will review the information and issue a correction if necessary.

Example Correction

Whenever we issue a correction, you will find an editor’s note included in the article containing when the correction was issued, the correct information and the context surrounding the mistake:

You can find an example of a corrected article here.

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Verification

Montana Free Press commits to do its best to publish accurate information across all of its content. We take many steps to ensure accuracy: We investigate claims with skepticism; question assumptions; challenge conventional wisdom; confirm information with experts; and seek to corroborate what sources tell us by talking with other informed people or consulting documents. We verify content, such as technical terms, stats, etc., against source documents or make clear who is providing the information. We may share relevant components of a story with a primary source or an outside expert to verify them.

We stand by the information as accurate, and if it is not, we will change it as quickly as possible and be transparent with our readers about the error according to our corrections policy.

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Unnamed Sources

To maintain trust, credibility and accountability, we clearly identify our sources of information in our reporting. This includes providing a source’s full name and including links to source documents whenever possible.

Under exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to protect the identity of a source. This may occur in situations where it is important to protect the identity of a victim or an underage source. In addition, in pursuing our mission of bringing truth to light and holding those in power accountable, we may need to rely on an unnamed source as a last resort.

The decision to use an unnamed source is not taken lightly. Our reporter and editor will pursue every alternative to using an unnamed source, such as corroborating facts with an on-record source. A reporter must give a compelling argument for why there is no other alternative, and both the reporter and the editor must do their due diligence to determine the credibility of all sources, named or unnamed.

Whenever the decision is made to use an unnamed source, we will provide as much information as possible to show their credibility without revealing their identity, which can include titles, affiliations or biases. We will also provide the reason for anonymity when using an unnamed source.

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Providing Feedback

We believe that public feedback is not a one-way street. We invite your comments and complaints on news stories, suggestions for issues and events to cover or sources to consult and your participation in our policy conversations and listening events. We believe that Montana Free Press has a responsibility as a news organization to engage with the public on the issues and ideas of the day, and that we have much to gain in return.

Please reach out to Brad Tyer at news@montanafreepress.org with your feedback.

Reader Surveys

Twice a year, Montana Free Press conducts a reader survey to better understand your news needs and how we can best deliver information to you and the public. We invite and encourage you to participate in our surveys whenever possible, even if you have responded to a survey from Montana Free Press in the past. For your convenience, please find a link below to any open reader surveys:

There are no reader surveys active at this time.

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Contact Our Newsroom

Please send news tips to:

Brad Tyer, Editor
news@montanafreepress.org

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Types of Work

Articles published by Montana Free Press are labeled with a type of work to help readers understand the origin and nature of the content they are consuming.

On our site, you will find the following types of work:

News

This article is based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Analysis

This article is based on factual reporting, but incorporates the expertise of the reporter and may offer interpretations and conclusions.

Behind the Story

This content depicts how a story was reported to provide additional information and insight.

Explainer

This article provides context, definition and detail on a specific topic.

Investigative

This article is an in-depth examination of a single subject requiring extensive research and resources.

Obituary

This article reports the death of an individual, providing an account of the person’s life. It may include their achievements, any controversies in which they were involved and reminiscences by people who knew them.

Opinion

This article expresses ideas and draws conclusions based on the author’s interpretation of facts and data.

Review

This article is an assessment or critique of a service, product, or creative endeavor such as literature, music, or a performance.

Underwritten

This content was produced with financial support from an organization or individual. The underwriter neither edited nor approved this content before or after publication.

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Privacy Policy

It is important that visitors to our site understand what information we gather about them, how we use it, and how we protect it. By using our website, and/or signing up for services such as membership or our newsletter, you consent to information practices outlined in our privacy policy.

Information Collection

We track how visitors use this site so we can see what people like and don’t like. We also analyze and aggregate information about use patterns. We may also collect personal information about you via registration for newsletters, commenting, donations, membership, and other areas.

We will not release your name, email address, or any other personal information to anyone outside MontanaFreePress.org without your consent, unless we are under a legal order to do so, or there is an emergency involving danger to a person or property. We will not provide anyone else outside MontanaFreePress.org with any information specific to you unless we have your consent.

If you chose to provide your personally identifiable information for the purposes of a third-party contest, survey, or newsletter, your consent shall be deemed to be given for the release of your personally identifiable information with regard to that third party only, in addition to MontanaFreePress.org. Only authorized Montana Free Press employees or consultants are allowed access to personal information about you. Any employee or consultant who violates our privacy and security policies is subject to disciplinary action.

We occasionally have service contractors, third party agents, subsidiaries, affiliates, and joint ventures that perform functions on our behalf, including but not limited to credit card processing and website hosting. They have access to personal information needed to perform their functions, and are contractually obligated to maintain the confidentiality and security of the data. They are restricted from using or altering this data in any way other than to provide the requested services to MontanaFreePress.org. In addition, we may always share, disclose, and transfer all information, postings, and any and all other personal and non-personal information we have collected to a successor-entity in the case of the sale of the assets of Montana Free Press, corporate reorganization, merger, change in control, or other similar transaction.

If you submit a subscription form on our site, you will be opting in for us to save your name, email address, and other relevant information. These subscriptions are used to notify you about related content, and other special offers. You can opt-out or unsubscribe at any time by clicking a link at the bottom of any email from MontanaFreePress.org.

Social Sharing

We embed a Facebook widget to allow you to see the number of likes/shares/recommends and to like/share/recommend our web pages. This widget may collect your IP address and your web browser User Agent, store and retrieve cookies on your browser, embed additional tracking, and monitor your interaction with the widget, including correlating your Facebook account with whatever action you take within the widget (such as liking/sharing/recommending our webpage), if you are logged in to Facebook. For more information about how this data may be used, please see Facebook’s data privacy policy: https://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/update

We use a Twitter “tweet” widget on our website. As a result, our website makes requests to Twitter’s servers for you to be able to tweet our webpages using your Twitter account. These requests make your IP address visible to Twitter, which may use it in accordance with Twitter’s data privacy policy: https://twitter.com/en/privacy#update

Use and Disclosure of Anonymous Information

Anonymous Information is any information other than Personally Identifiable Information, including aggregate information derived from Personally Identifiable Information.

MontanaFreePress.org may use this information:

  • To improve the MontanaFreePress.org website and service, to monitor traffic and general usage patterns, and for other general business purposes.
  • To inform publishers about what content is appealing to readers and to advise potential donors so that they may better understand MontanaFreePress.org’s user base.

Cookies

A cookie is a small amount of data, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier that is sent to your browser from a website’s servers and stored on your computer. Each website can send its own cookies to your browser if your browser’s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) most browsers permit a website to access only the cookies that the same website has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

MontanaFreePress.org may use cookies to identify you as a repeat visitor or customer of the website, to maintain session information for logged-in users, and to track usage trends and patterns in order to better understand and improve areas of our website. We use anonymous cookies to prevent users from seeing the same pop-up repetitively in an attempt to make our users’ experience more pleasant while still delivering time-sensitive messaging.

You are always free to decline our cookies if your browser permits, but you may not be able to take full advantage of our site’s features.

All computers and servers on the internet use IP addresses to recognize and communicate with each other. We collect IP addresses to administer and analyze our site and report aggregate, non-personal information (such as how many visitors we have). When you call up our site on your computer, our servers enter the IP address of that computer into a log. To maintain our users’ anonymity, we do not associate IP addresses with records containing personal information.

We do not and cannot use cookies or IP address tracking to retrieve personal information from your computer.

Embedded Content from Other Websites

Articles on MontanaFreePress.org may include embedded content (e.g., videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Security

MontanaFreePress.org employs a number of security methods designed to prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information. Your personal data will be stored within a database that is located behind a firewall for added security.

No data transmission over the internet or any wireless network can be guaranteed to be secure.  As a result, while we try to protect your personal information, we cannot ensure or guarantee the security of any information you transmit to us, and you do so at your own risk. We are not liable for the illegal acts of any third party.

We do not encrypt normal web sessions, however, any transmission to MontanaFreePress.org website or service of credit card information uses SSL encryption to help protect the data.

Links to Other Sites

MontanaFreePress.org provides links and pointers to websites maintained by other organizations. MontanaFreePress.org provides these links as a convenience to users, but it does not operate or control such sites. MontanaFreePress.org also disclaims any responsibility for the information on those sites and any products or services offered there, and cannot vouch for the privacy policies of such sites. MontanaFreePress.org does not make any warranties or representations that any linked sites, or this site, will function without error or interruption, that defects will be corrected, or that the sites and their servers are free of viruses and other problems that can harm your computer.

Opt-Out

If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

Children

MontanaFreePress.org is not directed to children (persons under the age of 13), and we do not knowingly collect, either online or offline, Personally Identifiable Information from children. If you believe that we have received information from a person under 13, please contact us by email at info@montanafreepress.org or in writing at P.O. Box 1415, Helena, MT 59624, and we will take appropriate action.

Changes to This Privacy Policy

MontanaFreePress.org may change its privacy policy from time to time. If we make any changes regarding disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information to third parties, we will post notice of the new policy on our home page.

Disclaimers and Limitations of Liability

ALTHOUGH WE TAKE REASONABLE STEPS TO PREVENT THE INTRODUCTION OF VIRUSES, WORMS, OR OTHER DESTRUCTIVE MATERIALS AND PROGRAMS TO OUR SITE, WE DO NOT GUARANTEE OR WARRANT THAT OUR SITE OR MATERIALS THAT MAY BE DOWNLOADED FROM OUR SITE ARE FREE FROM SUCH DESTRUCTIVE FEATURES. WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR HARM ATTRIBUTABLE TO SUCH FEATURES. WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, LOSS, OR INJURY BASED ON ERRORS, OMISSIONS, INTERRUPTIONS, OR OTHER INACCURACIES ON OUR SITE, NOR FOR ANY CLAIM, LOSS, OR INJURY THAT RESULTS FROM YOUR USE OF THIS SITE OR YOUR BREACH OF ANY PROVISION OF THIS AGREEMENT.

Questions

If you have any questions regarding our privacy policy or our use of your information, please email info@montanafreepress.org.

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The Trust Project

The Trust Project is a global network of news organizations building Trust Indicators and working with technology platforms to affirm and amplify journalism’s commitment to transparency, accuracy, inclusion and fairness so that the public can make informed news choices.

Learn more at thetrustproject.org.

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