Independent Publisher

Investigate Midwest

Champaign, Illinois, United StatesFounded in 2009Trust Project news partner since

Investigate Midwest is a nonprofit newsroom covering the practices of agricultural corporations and institutions.

Founded in 2009, Investigate Midwest is a newsroom that aims to serve the public interest by reporting on the practices of agricultural corporations and institutions through in-depth and data-driven investigative journalism. Investigate Midwest has federal 501(c)3 status and thus donations made to it are tax deductible the organization is committed to transparency in every aspect of its funding.

  • Erin OrrExecutive Director
  • Sky ChaddeAssistant Editor/Senior Reporter
Courtesy of Investigate Midwest.
Investigate Midwest

Best Practices Policies

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Mission

Investigate Midwest is an independent, nonprofit newsroom. Its declared mission is to serve the public interest by exposing dangerous and costly practices of influential agricultural corporations and institutions through in-depth and data-driven investigative journalism. Investigate Midwest was founded in 2009, and serves an audience interested in U.S. agricultural power and practices. Its online content is free, though it asks people to register on its website.
 

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Ethics

Investigate Midwest has made a public commitment to the highest ethical standards. The organization adheres to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, adopted in 1996. Its board of directors also has adopted a conflict of interest policy and a diversity statement. Its editorial independence policy requires that news coverage be independent of donors and that all providers of revenue will be publicly identified. Investigate Midwest is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), a consortium of nonprofit investigative news organizations. INN standards require members to disclose information about donors and financial practices, produce nonpartisan investigative journalism and apply high journalistic standards for accuracy and fairness.

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Ownership & Funding

Investigate Midwest has federal 501(c)3 status and thus donations made to Investigate Midwest are tax deductible. It is committed to transparency in every aspect of its funding, and says that financial support does not mean it endorses donors or their products, services or opinions. It accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals, organizations and foundations to support its operations, coverage of specific topics, and special projects, but its policy is to make news judgments independently not based on or influenced by donors. Supporters do not have the rights to assign, review or edit content.


 

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Diverse Voices

Investigate Midwest aims to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves in its staff and contributors, and in its editorial choices and priorities. Its goals are to increase the gender, racial, ethnic, age and sexual identification diversity of investigative journalists with the skills to use data and documents in reporting that holds institutions accountable; to increase diversity in its board of directors to reflect the gender, racial, ethnic and sexual identification diversity of the communities it serves; and to give equitable promotion to stories of the gender, racial, ethnic, age and sexual minorities in its communities who are impacted and involved in the issues it reports on.
 

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Corrections

Investigate Midwest has developed fact-checking protocols, and recognizes that it is critical to acknowledge errors to earn readers’ trust. Its policy is to correct stories promptly and openly with clear notes about what has been corrected either at the top of the story for significant factual errors or at the bottom for name misspellings or similar errors. As of Feb. 13, 2023, Investigate Midwest lists all corrections on a central corrections landing page. On rare occasions, the team may determine that a story is so problem-riddled that it must be withdrawn, a decision made by the executive director.

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Unnamed Sources

Investigate Midwest’s newsroom guidelines on use of unnamed sources are to identify sources whenever feasible; always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity;  and to only use direct quotes from anonymous sources rarely, and only when such quotes are pivotal to the story. Its policy is that use of anonymous sourcing must be specifically approved by a top editor, and at least one editor must know the specific identity of any anonymous source.

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The Trust Project

The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency 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. It was founded and is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman.

Our Funders

Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist, was our original funder, through the Trustworthy Journalism Initiative of Craig Newmark Philanthropies. Google followed with their financial support. Our funders also have included Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Facebook. Funders. Trust Project policies and the Trust Indicators are shaped and enforced independently from our funding sources.

Awards & Recognitions

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