“Transparency in media makes the business of storytelling visible to the audience. By showing the essence of their work, news providers can explain more clearly how they function and how reporters know what they are reporting.” —Knight Commission on Trust, Media and Democracy

Trust in the news media has been eroding for over a decade.

VCIJ will practice open and transparent journalism, allowing citizens deep insight into the reporting process. Our projects will include detailed explanations of how we obtained underlying data and documents. We will enforce a clear ethics policy, based on the practices of ProPublica, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Institute for Nonprofit News. Our policy denotes clear rules for corrections, use of anonymous sources, and a firewall between donors and editorial decisions. 

VCIJ will encourage dialogue between reporters, editors and residents through behind-the-scenes features and civic events.

Our goal is to reach every community in the commonwealth with our reporting. We will create content in a variety of forms -- print, radio and video -- to reach Virginians where they get their news. We will create long- and short-form written reports, photojournalism, video and documentary films, podcasts, data visualization, motion and infographics. People increasingly get their news through mobile devices, and VCIJ will focus on mobile-friendly presentations for our projects.

VCIJ will share our content with legacy and new media partners. Visual journalists and producers will be equally involved in the reporting as this leads to the greatest understanding of the story and only in this way can empathetic content be created. We will also create specific content for social media platforms to inform, educate and promote the larger story.

Once the content has been produced and fact-checked, we will embargo statewide stories and launch simultaneously in all media outlets. In this way, we create a robust and viral production that will enable greater social sharing. We will follow up by engaging our audience through partnerships and social journalism tools.

In addition to commonly used investigative reporting tools and techniques like developing sources, submitting FOIA requests and combing through data, VCIJ will also be open to using new journalistic tools that can help inform our reporting. We will employ tools like GroundSource, Hearken and others developed in Silicon Valley so that we might better understand the viewpoints of all Virginians. This will not only help us build trust with the community but also point us to potential stories.

VCIJ will draw advice and form strategic partnerships with other nonprofit journalism startups through an established network of John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship alumni.  

We are committed to ethical, non-partisan journalism and will adhere to the ethics guidelines of other, established nonprofit news organizations.