CommonWealth Beacon – a non-partisan, nonprofit news organization – works to shed light on Massachusetts policy, government, and politics.
The following policies govern CommonWealth Beacon’s operations and decision-making processes.
CommonWealth Beacon subscribes to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News.
CommonWealth Beacon retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best 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. We maintain a similar firewall between our news coverage decisions and our research and policy work.
To view our financial policies, please click here.
Our Relationship to Donors and Advertisers
Our work is made possible by the generous support of individuals, foundations, donor advised funds, corporations, businesses, and other non-profit entities for purposes that help the organization further its mission. The following policies and guidelines govern acceptance of gifts made to CommonWealth Beacon.
Our organization will make public all donors who give a total of $2,500 or more per year to CommonWealth Beacon.
CommonWealth Beacon accepts financial support from a variety of sources. We do not accept donations from sources that present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence. CommonWealth Beacon’s parent organization, MassINC, also provides financial support to CommonWealth Beacon, using unrestricted dollars it receives from donors and earned revenue. Since MassINC allocates a portion of its unrestricted donations to CWB, we will list those donors on the CWB website as well in the interests of full transparency. Such donations and donors must comply with the policies indicated herein.
CommonWealth Beacon will not allow receipt of funds from or solicitation of donors to CommonWealth Beacon to affect its decisions about its journalism. All editorial decisions are made independently and not based on donor support. Donors receive no preferential treatment and have no right to review editorial content. We do not give supporters the right to assign, review, or edit content. If a financial supporter is covered in a story or other editorial content, we disclose this at the bottom of the story.
CommonWealth Beacon also accepts donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.
We do not accept gifts from current elected Massachusetts state constitutional officers, members of the state Legislature, members of Congress, or mayors, candidates running for those offices, or state cabinet-level office holders. We do not accept support from political campaigns, political action committees, or political organizations as defined in Section 527 of the IRS Code.
Sponsors are entitled to share their messaging with “message from our sponsors” display units on our website and in our newsletter, or through sponsorship messages that accompany our events and special projects. All sponsor messaging is subject to review, and we decline any messaging that supports particular candidates or messages that we deem to be inaccurate or misleading.
Our Relationship to MassINC
Commonwealth Beacon is published by the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, or MassINC. In addition to CommonWealth Beacon, MassINC also operates a nonpartisan research and policy center and is an 80 percent owner of The MassINC Polling Group, a for-profit company. All of these divisions operate, in a hybrid model, out of the same central office at 11 Beacon Street in downtown Boston.
MassINC’s mission is to make Massachusetts a place of civic vitality and inclusive economic opportunity by providing residents with nonpartisan research, reporting and analysis, and civic engagement necessary to understand policy choices, inform decision-making and hold the government accountable. One of the ways we do this is through non-partisan, non-profit, editorially independent journalism.
Commonwealth Beacon works toward that goal as an editorially independent journalism enterprise published by MassINC. CommonWealth Beacon staff members are professional journalists who are not involved in MassINC’s research or policy work. MassINC staff from other divisions, its board of directors, and funders do not have access to or oversight of CommonWealth Beacon’s editorial process or news coverage decisions.
The CommonWealth Beacon staff and the MassINC policy staff operate independently and follow strict policies and procedures that ensure the separation of journalism and policy work. The different MassINC divisions may share subscriptions to databases, websites, and other information services as needed. The divisions also share a variety of administrative and operational services, consultants and staff that provide support in such areas as financial management, technology, human resources and other elements essential to effective and efficient nonprofit management.
Any staff or board members of MassINC or MPG quoted in a story or featured as a contributing opinion writer will be identified as such.
CommonWealth Beacon’s editor has the final say on what is published by CommonWealth Beacon. No one from MassINC leadership, including the CEO/Publisher, reviews news articles or opinion pieces prior to publication unless the editor chooses to inform the CEO/Publisher about a story that may be highly contentious or controversial or entail some legal risk to the organization. Even in such situations, the editor will retain final decision-making authority with respect to publication.
CommonWealth Beacon will maintain an Advisory Committee to advise on issues of journalism, strategy, financial support, and sustainability. It will have the ability to provide feedback and accountability on adherence to these policies.
Employment & Ethics Policies
All CommonWealth Beacon employees (employed by MassINC) abide by The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics to ensure that we avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest, and that we do not compromise our commitment to nonpartisan independent news coverage. We avoid conflicts of interest and are required to disclose unavoidable conflicts.
Our Guiding Principles
- We recognize that our work has an impact on the people and institutions we report on and we take that responsibility seriously.
- Truth, accuracy, fairness and respect matter to us.
- We have no hidden agendas.
- We are editorially independent from all revenue sources and nonpartisan.
- We are transparent about the funding of our news organization and how we work.
- We want to create a community of readers, media and other partners and supporters who believe in the value of nonprofit news, civil discourse, and an informed electorate.
Who is Covered by Our Editorial Policies?
All CommonWealth Beacon staff members, as well as freelance or contract contributors of reported stories to our journalism must abide by our editorial policies. We expect our staff and contributors to be free of conflicts of interest, to be fair, and to perform their work in a manner consistent with CommonWealth Beacon’s ethical principles. When contributors accept an assignment, they must disclose potential conflicts of interest or other issues.
Freelance Writing, Other Work
We understand that CommonWealth Beacon staffers may want to freelance occasionally and take part in outside activities. Because this can also lead to potential or perceived conflicts of interest, we have set up a review process.
No CommonWealth Beacon staffer may take on a freelance assignment or other work without the approval of their manager. Staffers must submit in writing a short description of the proposed media outlet (or other entity) and assignment to their manager, for consideration and written approval. Decisions about freelance opportunities will depend on issues regarding competition, time commitments and other criteria. When in doubt, ask.
Investments can pose real or perceived conflicts of interest. CommonWealth Beacon journalists should not hold investments in startups or companies that you cover or work with as a CommonWealth Beacon staffer. When in doubt, journalists should ask their editor.
CommonWealth Beacon journalists may not make campaign contributions to political candidates. The MassINC CEO and publisher of CommonWealth Beacon may not make campaign contributions either.
Serving on the board of another organization can lead to real or perceived conflicts of interest. All CommonWealth Beacon staffers must submit in writing to their supervisor all requests to serve on the board of any non-profit organization. These will be reviewed and approved/disapproved on a case-by-case basis. Journalists may not serve as directors or officers of any profit-making company.
Staffers should refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment. Unsolicited gifts should be donated or returned. It is acceptable to consume food or beverages as part of an event you are participating in, such as a speech or panel discussion.
Speeches, Other Public Appearances
We encourage CommonWealth Beacon staffers to make public appearances to help raise our visibility and to talk about our work, including making speeches and participating on panels, so long as there are no real or perceived conflicts of interest. All of these should be pre-approved by your supervisor.
Other Outside Activities
Staffers may participate in civic and cultural events that do not pose real or perceived conflicts of interest, but they may not take part in organized action in support of causes or movements relating to topics CommonWealth Beacon covers. Avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality or may damage our credibility. When in doubt, please inform your supervisor of a prospective activity for a case-by-case evaluation.
CommonWealth Beacon’s policies are based on the standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News.
CommonWealth Beacon retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services, or opinions. We maintain a similar firewall between our news coverage decisions and our research and policy work. The CommonWealth Beacon editor has the final say on editorial decisions.
While we aim for precision in every piece, CommonWealth Beacon is committed to correcting any errors fully and in a timely fashion.
If readers identify a potential mistake, they are encouraged to email the reporter in question directly. Upon editorial review, if a substantive correction is warranted, we will implement it in the following manner:
- The story will be updated on-line, and an italicized parenthetical note labeled “CORRECTION” will provide an explanation of the change. (For example: CORRECTION – Due to reporting error, this article initially spelled Jane Doe incorrectly.)
- Additionally, an italicized note will appear at the beginning of the story, signaling to readers that a correction has been made.
If the content is factually accurate but may benefit from added context, editors will consider whether the material would have been included if known at the time of reporting. If necessary, an editor will introduce the information with a note, marking it as a clarification.
Minor typos or grammatical changes will not require marked corrections.
As CommonWealth Beacon is a digital publication, stories may be published as news breaks and later updated with more context. If the story’s substance has been changed, a line indicating the update may be included at the top of the story with additional information. (For example: This story has been updated to include additional comments.)
We value the trust our readers place in us, and we appreciate your partnership in ensuring our content remains accurate and accountable.
You are welcome to republish articles and media originally produced and published by CommonWealth Beacon. Expanding access to high-quality journalism is core to CommonWealth Beacon’s mission, and we appreciate you sharing the work with your readers.
CWB stories are published under a CC BY-ND 4.0 Creative Commons license.
- You must republish the whole story, credit us appropriately, and, if you’re republishing CommonWealth Beacon stories online, include a link to our original publication page.
- You can’t sell the work separately or grant downstream publication rights to other republishers.
- Republication of a CommonWealth Beacon story constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms of this republication policy. We reserve the right to revoke an organization’s permission to republish CWB content for abuse or neglect of these terms.
- Address republication questions to Bruce Mohl.
- CommonWealth Beacon sometimes republishes stories and media that originated elsewhere and to which we have no authority to grant republication permission. These stories are clearly identifiable by their bylines and other credits. If in doubt, just ask us.
- CommonWealth Beacon frequently accompanies articles with photography and photo-illustrations acquired under license with Adobe, Getty Images, or other stock art providers. Such images may not be republished without the republisher’s independent licensure.
Click here for more details.
- All CommonWealth Beacon content republished online or in print must credit “CommonWealth Beacon” in the byline as follows: Author Name, CommonWealth Beacon.
- All CWB content republished in print or online must contain the following text at the top or bottom of the story: This story was originally published by CWB at commonwealthbeacon.org. In online republications, the text commonwealthbeacon.org must be hyperlinked to the story’s original publication page on commonwealthbeacon.org.
- Webpages containing digitally republished CWB content must contain HTML identifying the original article URL published on commonwealthbeacon.org as the canonical URL. This article provides instructions for adding a canonical URL to your page.
- All republished CWB content must contain all the hyperlinks contained in our originally published story. You also can’t add new hyperlinks in our article text.
- All stories, graphics, videos, photos, and images produced by CommonWealth Beacon — not including elements labeled as unavailable for republication — must be republished in their integrated entirety. Substantive edits for content or length without CWB’s express approval prior to republication are not allowed.
- You can edit CWB articles to conform to your house style. You can also change date indicators (“yesterday” to “last week,” for example) and orientation language to account for the time of republication and your readership’s locale.
- If you localize a CommonWealth Beacon story with a sidebar or accompanying copy, you must clearly distinguish the localized content from CWB-produced material.
- Story art including photos, illustrations and graphics may not be republished independent of the article they originally accompany. In other words, you can’t keep our photography for your file or future use. Republished story art must be accompanied by its original caption and credit.
- All digitally republished CWB content distributed via newsletter or social media is subject to the terms above.
- Some of the above conditions may be waived with advance permission from CommonWealth Beacon. Address republication questions or waiver requests to Bruce Mohl.
- Our publication title style is CommonWealth Beacon, not CommonWealth Magazine, and, on subsequent reference, CWB.
- We’d appreciate it if you’d tag CommonWealth Beacon (@CWBeacon on Facebook and Twitter) when sharing republished CWB content on social media.
- We’d appreciate it if you’d notify CommonWealth Beacon via email when you republish a CWB story. Please email a link to the page where the story appears, or a pdf if republished in print, to Bruce Mohl.
- If you regularly re-publish CWB content, please consider supporting us so we can continue to make high-quality stories available for free republication. To discuss organizational support for CWB, please contact Director of Audience Engagement, Yael Mazor-Garfinkle.
The CommonWealth Beacon website may collect certain personally identifiable information (PII) from users through various methods, including but not limited to website forms and user interactions. The types of information we may collect include:
- Email address
- Contact information
- IP address
- Other relevant information voluntarily provided by the user
We work with a third-party to collect and process donation information. No credit-card information is collected or retained by CommonWealth Beacon. The third party does not share the information it collects with any other organization except as is required to process financial transactions associated with a donor’s gift.
We may also work, from time to time, with organizations to provide online or in-person access to live events sponsored by CommonWealth Beacon: to distribute CommonWealth Beacon e-communications such as e-newsletters; or to perform similar functions in accordance with our mission. Participant registration information shared with these trusted vendors is handled in accordance with the strict privacy policies of those organizations.
We assure you that any PII collected from users will not be shared with any other type of third-party organizations without explicit consent, unless required by law. However, we may use the collected information, including IP addresses, for the following purposes:
- To analyze and understand user behavior and preferences.
- To improve our website and services.
- To send periodic emails or notifications related to our services and promotions.
- To ensure the security and integrity of our website and prevent fraudulent activities.
Cookies and Tracking Technologies
Our website, including calendar, sponsor recognitions, and other functions, may contain links to third-party websites or services. Please note that we are not responsible for the privacy practices or content of these external websites. We encourage users to review the privacy policies of such third-party sites before providing any personal information.
We and the third-party vendors with whom we work as described above take reasonable measures to protect the security of users’ PII and prevent unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. However, no data transmission over the internet or electronic storage method is 100% secure. We cannot guarantee the security measures we employ or those used by the organizations with whom we work. Users should understand the inherent risks involved in transmitting personal information online and use our website at their own discretion.
Our website is not intended for children under the age of 13. We do not knowingly collect or solicit personal information from children. If we discover that we have inadvertently collected personal information from a child, we will promptly delete it from our records.
Use of Information
We do not share, sell, or rent individual personally identifiable information except as described in this policy or ordered by a court of law. Information submitted to us is only available to employees, designated volunteers, and third-party vendors who manage this information for purposes of contacting you, sending you e-mails based on your requesting information, making donor transactions, or fulfilling similar functions. We may use your IP address and information on files you access to help diagnose problems with our server and to administer our Web site by identifying which parts of our site are most heavily used. We also use this information to tailor site content to user needs, and to generate aggregate statistical reports for business needs. We may also collect statistics about the general behavior of visitors to this website, using service providers such as Google Analytics.
Information collected through cookies, such as portions of your CommonWealth Beacon website browsing history, may be associated with the personal information you submit when you make certain requests of us, to help us improve our website and outreach. Cookies may also be used to pre-fill form information.
Any email address you provide may be used to send you information and to respond to inquiries and other requests or questions to us. At any time you may opt out of receiving emails that you have requested, although doing so may prevent us from fulfilling some requests.
Transparent pixels may be used to help us determine if the emails we send are being received and read, and to test different messaging.
User Generated Copy
Any information disclosed as part of submissions of comments or letters to the editor, including name, email, website, and the comment itself is property of CommonWealth Beacon. Additionally, information regarding name and comments may be public on the CommonWealth Beacon site. Comments or letters to the editor may be moderated and/or approved by our moderators.
We reserve the right to reject or remove thereafter any content from appearing on our site that does not meet our standards for accuracy and civility. We are in no way responsible for content posted by outside individuals or groups posting letters to the editor or event listings on our website.