Jump to a section:
- Tips, press releases, pitches and submissions
- Corrections and accuracy
- Controversial and offensive content
- Takedown policy
- Organizational ethics policies
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy
Tips, press releases, pitches and submissions
The voices and work of our community play a major role in determining what stories we cover and what content is published or shared on our platforms.
All news tips, press releases, pitches and community submissions can be submitted using our Contact page and will be forwarded to the relevant editors or staff for review. We will respond to submissions received within a reasonable amount of time, to the best of our abilities.
All content and information submitted to AfroLA is subject to additional reporting, editing and fact checking and must comply with our editorial standards and policies. Our editorial staff maintains full control over the content published. The sources and nature of all content will be clearly disclosed in our publication. When submitting content, unless under another written agreement, you acknowledge that you are granting AfroLA the right to publish it across its platforms, including in collaborations or partnerships with other organizations. We do not guarantee the presentation or inclusion of any information or content in our content. If you are concerned with the accuracy or representation of the content, please contact us.
Submitting story ideas and information
We encourage you to share story ideas, news tips, leads or information that may lead to stories published by AfroLA staff or contributors. We do our best to include specific sources, a human contact or other ways that we can confirm and expand upon the information given. Anonymous or ambiguous submissions are much more difficult to corroborate and less likely to be utilized in our reporting. We do not compensate for tips or leads on information.
Press announcements, statements and releases may be submitted using our Contact page. We prioritize releases and announcements from local government and community organizations with newsworthy events and information most relevant to our local audience. All announcements should include the phone number and email of a contact for additional reporting.
Pitching content to AfroLA
We welcome mission-aligned pitches from independent journalists and freelancers as well as community members. There are no skill or education requirements to pitch AfroLA. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear from you.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “pitch” to submit a story idea. Pitches should adequately outline the crux of the story and supporting context as to why it’s an important story to tell. We do not compensate for pitches alone. If a pitch is accepted, we will formalize a working relationship with a contract that includes terms of payment. We try to respond to pitches, whether we accept them or not, within a reasonable time. You should hear back from us in 1-2 weeks.
We welcome pitches on:
- Issues of national importance that are localized to how they impact Angelenos, especially historically-marginalized communities and vulnerable groups
- In-depth investigative or accountability reporting
- Personal stories or accounts that can be contextualized to a collective experience (e.g. how your story is reflected in others or within a broader community)
We accept pitches for writing, video and audio. We also accept concepts or plans for social media-based content.
We don’t publish:
- Stories that only cover that an event happened. (Tell us why this event is important and how it’s related to an issue or topic relevant to our audience.)
- Content without a connection to the city of L.A. or the greater Los Angeles region and/or their residents. (We are AfroLA, after all.)
- Stories solely sourced from press releases
- Political endorsements
Please note that these aren’t exhaustive lists of what we will and will not publish. We recommend reviewing our coverage to become familiar with the types of content AfroLA publishes.
Working with community contributors
We acknowledge that community members who want to contribute to AfroLA may come from communities that are often exploited, marginalized or vulnerable. We support contributions from people who may have limited access to resources and/or may not have been traditionally trained in journalism prior to their involvement with AfroLA. We seek to build trust and relationships with communities by taking the time necessary to assist community contributors in all parts of our editorial process, including but not limited to refining an idea, reporting and writing, through completion of the work.
Corrections and accuracy
We take seriously our responsibility to get it right. But, sometimes we make mistakes. If we become aware of a factual inaccuracy in any of our reporting, we will add a timestamped corrections note on the content involved.
We will get things wrong at times, and when we do, we will admit it, listen to our audience, learn from our mistakes and improve going forward.
Please use the Contact page to submit any inaccuracies or corrections.
Controversial and offensive content
AfroLA will not publish derogatory terms and racial slurs unless they are part of a quote and/or crucial to the understanding of the story or news event. When they are used, we will refer to these words with dashes, except in rare cases when a writer provides a compelling reason for spelling out the full word.
We post content based on the needs and interests of our audience and the public at large. In any instances when our content is requested to be removed from our platforms, we consider the following criteria. An editor’s note will accompany any partial takedowns or revisions explaining the reason and any changes that were made.
When we may take down a story or other reported content (including but not limited to):
- When there is harm that outweighs public interest or public’s right-to-know:
- Criminal history of minors, any person’s non-serious criminal offenses that may impact their ability to access employment or other essential needs and benefits or are not relevant to the story at hand
- Protection of whistleblowers, victims, witnesses or others
- Content that leads to misinterpretation or misinformation
- Content used to bully, slander, or otherwise harass others
- Gross ethical violations or negligence on the part of AfroLA
- Content that we are required to remove as a result of legal compliance or deem necessary to protect our reporters, staff, contributors, volunteers, sources, partners and organization from legal action
We want to honor a person’s right to leave their past in the past so that it can’t cause harm to their future. With that in mind, we will consider requests to take down information including but not limited to:
- Juvenile offenders
- Nonviolent criminal offenders
- People named in stories about crimes for which charges were dropped, dismissed, reversed or expunged
- People named in stories about police encounters or arrests that did not lead to conviction
- Domestic violence victims and victims of other crimes
People requesting removal must provide documentation that shows the status of the case upon request.
The following people are generally ineligible for information to be taken down, except in cases of factual inaccuracy:
- Current or past elected officials and others holding significant public office
- People seeking public office
- People convicted of most felonies or violent crimes
How to request a takedown or correction
To request a takedown or correction please use the form on our Contact page. Please provide the following:
- Link(s) to content in question
- Reason for the correction or takedown request
- Additional context or information for the correction/takedown
- Contact information for identity verification and for us to follow up with any questions
Requests will be reviewed and responded to in a timely manner depending on the nature and circumstances of the request. All decisions are made exclusively at the discretion of AfroLA and their editorial staff.
Additional information on complaints and feedback
- All other types of complaints or feedback can be submitted using the form on our Contact page.
- We take all complaints seriously. Complaints against any individuals or organization actions will be investigated by AfroLA leadership and, if necessary, with the assistance of legal, regulatory, law enforcement or other appropriate third-parties.
- All complaints will remain confidential to the greatest extent possible, though we may share necessary information with legal, regulatory, law enforcement or other appropriate third parties as it pertains to the specific complaint and circumstances.
- All complaints should include specific details such as the date, time and nature of the complaint, as well as any supporting evidence or documentation.
- Contact information should be provided to facilitate further communication. We may reach out for acknowledgement, ask for additional information, to communicate any resolutions or actions taken as a response to the complaint.
Organizational ethics policies
AfroLA’s ethical standards include the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
We aim to maintain strict editorial independence, free from political, commercial or personal influences that may compromise the integrity of our reporting. Reporters, editors and contributors are expected to act independently to present news and information with accuracy and fairness. We generally do not allow anyone outside the newsroom staff or relevant contributors to review or edit our content prior to publication, though we may ask sources and experts to confirm or clarify specific quotes or information.
When a person or group related to AfroLA or any member of the newsroom (including freelancers and board members) by a significant or pre-existing business or personal relationship is named or referred to in our reporting, a note describing the connection to AfroLA will be added to the content.
Moreover, no such party is ever:
- Part of the editorial process, including but not limited story ideation, reporting, editing or production
- Has influence over editorial decisions pertaining to the reporting
- Has access to review or edit a story prior to publication
We aim to avoid using content in ways that would create an appearance of a conflict of interest, or compromise our ethics or reporting standards. When a conflict of interest is unavoidable (this might happen if we end up covering a newsworthy story about an advertiser, or through community contributions) or identified after publication, we will clearly disclose it in an editor’s note or other form in the content.
Our business model and sources of revenue
We continue to develop our business model in ways that prioritize our mission and ethics while providing long-term sustainability.
Our sources of revenue currently include (in order of amount):
- Grants, fellowships
- One-time and recurring small-dollar donations
- Financial and in-kind contributions from founders, board members or other key stakeholders
- Sponsorship from local businesses and other mission-aligned organizations
Fellowships and grants that have supported our reporting and news operations (in reverse chronological order):
- HBCU/Black Press Academy + Lede Fellowship, a 2023 Solutions Journalism Network fellowship
- Complicating the Narrative Fellowship, a 2022 Solutions Journalism Network fellowship
- Diversity Reporting Grant from the National Association of Science Writers to support our 2035 series reporting
- Managing Money and Risk Lab, a 2022 GNI Startups Lab hosted in partnership with LION Publishers
- AI in Local News cohort from the Local News Lab at Columbia Journalism School aimed at building tools to support operational sustainability
It takes time to build trust within a community. We know that people need to get to know us and our content before they routinely turn to us for local news. With that in mind, we are working toward building relationships to earn trust necessary to be a sustainable news organization. In the future, we plan to explore additional revenue opportunities through a membership model, event revenue, local advertising and periodic fundraising campaigns (such as NewsMatch).
AfroLA publishes as much original content as possible, but we also republish content from mission-aligned partners. Presently, we republish stories from Mother Jones, Grist and Capital & Main. We label this content as republished from its original source, on our website and social channels and in our newsletter. We don’t pay for this content.
The material on AfroLA’s website may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of AfroLA.
We don’t allow open republishing like some other organizations who allow others to share their stories and “steal their content” and republish freely, or license it as Creative Commons. (Please note: We don’t criticize organizations who do this.)
We don’t charge for our content, but you do have to ask first. Persons or organizations who want to republish our stories should email email@example.com, with the subject line “republication inquiry.” Persons or organizations who wish to republish our content will be required to sign a memorandum of understanding, and may not, in turn, allow others to republish our content from them.
We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions.
We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals, organizations and foundations to help with our general operations, coverage of specific topics and special projects. But, our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content.
AfroLA Media Group is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Federal Tax ID: 88-2517496). Contributions to AfroLA are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Review our latest IRS 990 report here.
Our organization will name all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year. We will only grant anonymity for donations more than $5,000 when a compelling reason exists, such as threats to their safety or privacy. We will not accept donations, anonymous or otherwise, when they attempt to influence our editorial independence.
To protect the integrity of our journalism, AfroLA includes disclosures in stories or with editor’s notes when we’ve accepted support to produce the content or there are conditions attached to the funding (e.g. foundation or grant funding, or support through a fellowship program). Similarly, we will disclose when a donor is a source or subject of a story.
Political independence and nonpartisanship
AfroLA values truth and pursues it through accurate, fair, independent, rigorous and nonpartisan reporting. We may receive funds from standard government programs or grants offered to nonprofits or similar businesses.
We cover politics, which often means dealing with two or more opposing sides. But, as a local news provider, we work to be fair and equitable when it comes to reporting on politics and power. There may be times when our content feels like it is more favorable to a view or party, but that’s not actually the goal. But, if a party or group takes a position against human rights, civil liberties or is hateful or racist, our coverage will decry these beliefs, and we will seek out sources who can speak to the effects of these positions. In efforts to be a trusted news provider, we are committed to reporting based on the facts while still calling out harmful acts against, especially against historically-marginalized and vulnerable groups.
Sourcing and attribution
Our quality journalism is dependent upon reliable sources, including (but not limited to) people, documents and data. When we include information from a human source, we attribute quotes and information provided in interviews or written communication. When applicable, we also hyperlink to contextual information pertaining to their credibility or credentials.
As a general rule, we avoid including information about an individual or group sourced from social media without corroboration from other non-social media sourcing.
We verify all data we reference or from which we include analysis or findings. We attribute the original source of the data, and when possible, we hyperlink to the source(s). We name any caveats, limitations or conflicts of interests we identify in the data we use to report.
Diversity in sourcing
At AfroLA, we believe that we all have a responsibility to reflect a spectrum of voices in the community or that can speak to an issue—no matter what the content or platform. We don’t do “both sides” journalism, as stated in our equity and inclusion statement. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t interview people who represent a controversial point of view. Rather, we aim to present the arguments for and against an issue (so long as those stances aren’t grounded in hate or compromising others’ human rights and dignity) and to let our audience make an informed decision or form opinions based on our coverage.
We have a commitment to diversity in sourcing that underpins our coverage. Featuring voices that reflect the complexity and diversity of our community overall is paramount. Our communities aren’t monolithic, and we can’t treat sourcing voices from them as such.
We’re not systematically tracking the diversity of sources at this time. Our system now is much more informal. Reporters must talk through sourcing—even just a quick conversation—for every story. Or, issues are raised in the editing process about how voices fit together to tell the story.
- We ask every source how they prefer to be referred to (in terms of race/ethnicity, gender identity and pronouns, credentials, etc. as applicable to the story’s context). We don’t guess if they decline to share that information; we work around their choice.
- Why is this the “right” person to interview? What perspective do they bring and in what context is their voice being used? We strive break out of others’ stereotypes of certain groups (e.g. white older men as experts, Black people as witnesses to a crime or some other negative event, racial/ethnic minorities as a whole seen as so-called “color” to add to a story or to ensure the story has at least one person of color, etc.).
- We seek out diverse voices, especially Black voices, from the beginning, not as an afterthought.
Sourcing for an AfroLA story is a “bottom-up” approach to reporting. We talk to the “real” people affected before the experts and officials. We acknowledge and name power dynamics, and aim to include everyone affected by that dynamic in our reporting when possible.
We also consider how we report from a solutions-driven perspective (e.g. talking to folks who help us compare our systems to other systems that work better, etc.)
As an editorial team, editors and reporters carefully consider the public’s right to know against threats to our source’s personal health or safety or any potential harms they may experience as a result of participating in our reporting. In some cases, we may deem it necessary to withhold a source’s identity. We use completely anonymous sources when there is an imminent threat to the source’s well-being that directly results from them being a part of our reporting. A middleground we sometimes turn to is using only a first name or limiting personal identifiers (e.g. age, place of residence or employment, etc.) to provide adequate evidence our source is legitimate without putting them at risk. Moreover, in any case when we don’t provide a source’s full name, we include a note that their full name isn’t being provided or their identity is being concealed for their protection.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy
AfroLA tries to find the balance between utilizing the benefits of innovative technologies, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, while minimizing the ethical and privacy risks involved. Artificial Intelligence is now becoming so ubiquitous, that we find it important to define and disclose our use and policies around the technology.
What is generative AI (GenAI)?
Generative AI (GenAI) is an artificial intelligence tool capable of generating new content including text, video, audio, code and images.
Examples of GenAI tools used by AfroLA:
- Otter: AI-powered audio transcription
- Grammarly: AI typing assistant
- ChatGPT: AI chatbot
- AI extensions now integrated into Eventbrite, Headliner, Veed applications
Our limitations on AI use
- We will never use GenAI as the sole or primary creator or reviewer of content.
- All AI-generated content must be part of a human-led process, and anything resulting from GenAI must be reviewed by a human as part of our editorial processes prior to publication.
- Human interjection isn’t possible with the use of some real-time AI elements. Such cases include user-interactive elements, support chatbots, auto-captioning or other accessibility tools, or utilization of tools on live streams or video conferencing platforms. However, in such cases, the use of AI tools will be clearly disclosed.
How does AfroLA use GenAI?
- Ideation: We may use GenAI to help us brainstorm ideas or wording, or dig deeper into a concept to come up with a story idea.
- Organization: We may use GenAI to help draft or write communications with sources (e.g. emails). But, we won’t rely on AI to conduct interviews or report for us. At times, we do use AI tools to transcribe our interviews, but we ensure that any resulting files are stored safely and securely.
- Sourcing and fact-checking: We may use AI tools to aid in finding sources or verifying information in our reporting. But, all of our published content is reported, written and reviewed by AfroLA humans.
Labeling AI generated or co-generated content
All content where any significant element is generated or co-generated with GenAI tools will be labeled as such in the text body, caption, editor’s note or other clearly identifiable manner.
We will not label GenAI use in purely mechanical processes such as the sorting, organization or processing of existing data, in the use of pre-production ideation, or in non-production applications (e.g. asking ChatGPT for a list of ideas for social media videos, or how to to less awkwardly introduce ourselves to new subscribers).
Privacy and data security
We will never submit sensitive or protected information through open, proprietary or shared AI platforms (e.g. ChatGPT) where the information use and privacy cannot be controlled. This does not include utilizing publicly available or openly-sourced information in discovery or research through AI or similar tools (e.g. using Google to check a name or fact or to find additional context.)
At AfroLA we want to honestly acknowledge the risks and disruptive realities that exist when adopting new technologies. We believe AI can be a disruptive tool that can increase the efficiency, quality and effectiveness of human work. We aim to take every possible action so that it is used to enhance, rather than replace, human work in our operations. We will also work to reduce and mitigate any harm that may be caused to individuals if technology causes a job or role to become obsolete. This may include providing additional training, redefining roles or processes, expanding responsibilities and empowering people to be the overseers and maintainers of technology instead of just doers of replaceable tasks.
These policies have been heavily inspired by and adapted from the work and policies of many other newsrooms and organizations that we believe best set the standard of representing fairness and equity in journalism. We specifically want to thank and attribute the Institute for Nonprofit News, Chicago Sun-Times, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Watch, WCPO Cincinnati, Prison Journalism Project and Trusting News as references.
Last revision: Sept. 2, 2023