1. GOALS: Here, at Consumer Litigation Group, our subject matter choices, investigation, gathering of news from sources, and reporting of consumer news to the general public (hereinafter “news media services”) are intended to improve the public’s awareness, access, and knowledge of various consumer laws and regulations. We endeavor to provide high-quality news media services so that the general public may better navigate the world of debt collection, unlawful collection practices, debt collection lawsuits, credit reporting errors, consumer fraud, bankruptcy options, and other consumer and financial legal areas. Without a continued devotion to high-quality news media services, we would have no reputation permitting us to maintain public trust or meet our reader’s expectations.
2. SCOPE. The scope of our policies apply to all attorney and staff members while in their capacities as writers, reporters, columnists, editors, editorial writers, and researchers (hereinafter “journalists”). Freelance columnists or guest reporters are also subject to our policies.
3. DISCRETIONARY EXPANSION. We use our discretion to expand the scope of our policies to employed non-journalists whose work influences our news media services.
4. AFFIRMATIVE DUTIES. Every journalist is required to read these policies carefully and frequently reference the policies at times of doubt, uncertainty, or hesitation. Of course, our policies can only be written broadly and policies of this nature cannot anticipate every possible area of concern. Nevertheless, they are written in such a manner that should minimize or eliminate most concerns regarding the discharge of our respectful and ethical news media services.
5. ETHICS & RESPECT: When investigating, gathering, and reporting consumer news to the general public, we try to be only the most minimally impartial but reasonably fair to the subject matter we ultimately report. However, we freely disclose to our readers that our worldview pertaining to consumer issues usually slants or biases our news media services in favor of consumers. Therefore, we only endeavor to be reasonably fair consistent with our worldview. We are, in a sense, polemical journalists. Absolute or near-absolute impartiality or fairness cannot be assured, nor do we aspire to be so. Nevertheless, our policies regarding our news media services require us to be respectful and ethical to readers, news sources, businesses, and all parts of our society.
6. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may arise in many areas of our news media services. There is an unavoidable tension between our journalism obligations to be reasonably impartial and fair vis-à-vis our relationships with the subject matter, investigation techniques, news sources, advocacy groups, our perspectives and worldview, and our attorney obligations to zealously represent our consumer clients. We believe the remedy for these kinds of conflicts of interest is disclosure: we disclose that our news media services are intended to help the general public and its consumers and report on topics we believe would be interesting to them. Where a journalistic conflict of interest creates an attorney/client conflict of interest, avoidance of the attorney/client conflict shall always prevail.
7. PROFESSIONALISM. Our journalists must be professional in discharging their news media services. Subject matter, news sources, investigation techniques, and reporting must be professional at all times.
8. DISCLOSURE. When approaching a news source or conducting an investigation, our journalists must disclose at least their true identity if consulting with or seeking information that is generally available to the public. A journalist may not distort, misrepresent, or falsify his or her identity or the purpose of his or her news media activities.
9. INVESTIGATION AND NEWS GATHERING. Breaking and entering into any building or appurtenances thereto including garbage or refuse disposal receptacles is prohibited. Unauthorized access to digitally-stored information, telephone data, voicemail, computers, etc. is prohibited. Journalists may not record or otherwise intercept private communications without the prior consent of all persons engaged in the communications. Where recordings or interceptions are legal, those lawful recordings and interceptions may not occur without prior approval from our News Editor. Hidden video equipment with the capacity to optically record an event shall not be used in any circumstance without the approval of the News Editor.
10. PLAGIARISM. Plagiarism by our journalists destroys our reputation, exposes us to liability, and brings disrepute upon advocates of consumer rights. Plagiarism is strictly prohibited.
11. FALSE REPORTING. A journalist who falsely reports or reports with reckless disregard for the truth betrays the most fundamental tenet of journalism: accurate reporting of facts and perspectives. False reporting is disrespectful and unfair to the subject matter, our readers, and those tainted by false reports of facts and perspective. False reporting is strictly prohibited. Our Retraction and Correction Policy can be found by clicking on the link.
12. APPEARANCE IN OTHER MEDIA. Our journalists may choose to be interviewed in other local or national media. Views expressed should not go beyond a discussion of news and fair commentary or analysis.
13. GIFTS. Our journalists are prohibited from receiving goods, services, food, beverages, special treatment, more favorable treatment, or anything of value while discharging their news media services.
14. ROMANTIC INTERESTS. Our journalists are prohibited from engaging in news media services if any component of the activities involves a person to whom the journalist has a romantic relationship. Romantic relationships are more expansive than sexual activity. Our journalists may not use persons who they are romantically involved as news sources or involve them in an investigation. Where news sources or investigations cannot occur without resorting to persons with romantic involvement, a carefully-considered exception may be granted by our News Editor.
15. PRIVILEGES. While discharging our news media services duties, we assert our constitutional freedom of press, litigation privilege, fair comment, source shield privileges, and all other privileges available to us in whatever form or capacity we are found.
16. RETRACTION AND CORRECTION. Our Retraction and Correction Policy can be found by clicking on the link.