Ethics Policy

Our mission

The Houston Local Information Initiative, Inc., also known as Houston Landing, is a nonprofit newsroom that strives to inform and enrich the Houston region with deeply reported, nonpartisan news coverage. Our success depends on the trust of our readers. All individuals carrying out the work of Houston Landing must abide by our Code of Ethics when acting on behalf of the organization to ensure that trust isn’t broken. We encourage the public to review our ethics policy and suggest ways to improve it.

Our journalism

We verify all information before publishing it on our website or on social media. We hold the powerful accountable. We seek sources who reflect the diversity and complexity of greater Houston.

When we make a mistake, we fix it. Any factual errors are addressed immediately, and a correction will appear at the bottom of the article to alert readers that the original version contained an error. We also correct mistakes on social media by deleting the original material and creating a second post with a correction.

We do not pay sources for information, nor does our team accept gifts from sources in an individual capacity. Small courtesies such as buying a source a cup of coffee are allowed under this policy.

As a nonprofit organization, Houston Landing accepts charitable contributions from the public, but such donations do not influence our news coverage or mean that we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions. Our news judgments are made independently — not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content. We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. In furtherance of such commitment, we make all revenue sources and donors who give in excess of $5,000 annually in charitable contributions to Houston Landing public on our website and through our IRS Form 990 Informational Tax Return.

Our content is created by real people, not artificial intelligence programs. We’re open to experimenting with AI as a reporting tool with the permission of editors, but we will never use AI to generate images or write articles.

Plagiarism is strictly prohibited.

We identify ourselves as journalists when conducting interviews and we do not mislead people, use hidden cameras, or go undercover. When we interview public officials, spokespersons or other types of sources who routinely deal with the media, all comments are assumed to be “on the record” unless both sides agree otherwise. We do not allow these sources to make “on the record” comments and later retract them. When dealing with members of the public who have possibly never spoken with a reporter, we make clear how their quotes and information will be used, and we avoid journalistic lingo when we make these explanations.

Recording conversations in Texas is legal as long as at least one party is aware of it. When interviewing sources outside Texas, where stricter laws might apply, we advise our staff to notify the other party.

We use anonymous sources sparingly and only for compelling reasons. If we do use an anonymous source, we explain why in the story. We will not grant anonymity to sources whose quotes are only used for mudslinging or similar purposes. We do not allow financial supporters of Houston Landing to be quoted anonymously. We do not allow pseudonyms. We are sensitive to victims of abuse, and we do not identify victims of sex crimes, domestic violence or sexual harassment without their permission. We respect the gender identities of our sources and identify them by their preferred names.

People who will be portrayed in an unflattering light in a story must be given a full opportunity to respond. We do not share advance copies of stories with sources, but we share the key facts and quotes during the fact-checking process.

We do not use our positions as journalists to gain a personal advantage over anyone or to engage in commercial endorsements. Houston Landing pays for all travel and expenses related to news coverage or professional events.

Journalists who want to freelance must obtain the approval of their supervisor.

Members of our team who own stocks or a financial interest in a company or organization must notify their supervisor if they are assigned a story that relates to those entities. A decision will be made whether a recusal is necessary. Investments in mutual funds or index funds does not preclude one of our team members from covering a story that relates to such companies.

We refrain from any partisan political activity, such as making campaign contributions, posting campaign signs, putting political bumper stickers on vehicles, or running for office. We do not sign political petitions, participate in political marches or engage in other activities if it raises questions about our impartiality.

Our team can’t join government boards or private boards of organizations that the Houston Landing will likely cover. We may make exceptions for groups or organizations that are highly unlikely to generate news coverage. If we learn that one of our team members has a role at an organization that’s mentioned in a news story, we disclose that connection to readers.

We are real people with diverse backgrounds, and this policy does not prohibit them from participating in events or joining groups that celebrate who they are or that help them deal with trauma. We believe our life experiences enrich our perspectives on the stories that we cover and shouldn’t be used to prevent us from covering issues we care about.

We stick with facts and analysis when posting content on social media or when interviewed by other media outlets. We do not engage in speculation or baseless assertions.

Our visual journalism

The highest standards in visual journalism are expected from our photojournalists (in-house or contracted.) They are required to adhere to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Code of Ethics. Visual journalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding NPPA standards including:

  • Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
  • Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
  • Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
  • Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
  • While photographing subjects, do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
  • Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
  • Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists.

This code of ethics was guided by policies published by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Texas Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, the National Press Photographers Association and The New York Times.

Corporate Partnerships Ethics Policy 

Businesses and organizations that underwrite, sponsor or advertise alongside the work of the Houston Landing are supporting our mission to bring quality, independent, public-service journalism focused on issues important to the people of this region.

The Fine Print
  • Houston Landing accepts sponsorships, underwriting and advertising that does not compromise its editorial independence, nonpartisan mission and integrity. 
  • Houston Landing’s corporate partnerships team solicits and accepts advertising, underwriting and sponsorships that support its core programs, as well as special projects. 
  • No sponsors, underwriters or advertisers may have influence over Houston Landing’s coverage, events or engagements. 
  • Our acceptance of financial support does not mean Houston Landing endorses underwriters, advertisers, sponsors or their products, services or opinions.
  • All content that is sponsored, underwritten or that is a direct advertisement is labeled as such in writing, or verbally, if at an event or other engagement. 
  • Houston Landing does not accept underwriting, sponsorships or advertising that might negatively influence the audience or community’s perception of the organization’s ethics, morals, standards or values.
  • Upon receipt of final copy and images, Houston Landing reserves the right to reject advertisements for any reason
  • Houston Landing does not accept advertising that encourages or discourages voting for a particular candidate or ballot proposal. 

Houston Landing works with various kinds of underwriters, sponsors and advertisers: digital revenue (website, newsletter and multimedia); digital in-kind (products and services that offset operating expenses); events revenue (sponsorship of in-person engagement events); and events in-kind (products and services that offset expenses.)

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, advertiser, underwriter or in-kind partner, please contact Heather Houston, director of corporate partnerships at

Houston Landing is accountable to our community. As such, we are committed to transparency. When corporate sponsors who have provided $1,000 or more in cash or in-kind value to the Houston Landing are named in stories, we will disclose this fact on those pages.