Approved by the Society of Environmental Journalists board of directors March 1995 and revised in July 2003
Policy Regarding SEJ Endorsements, Co-sponsorships and Partnerships for Journalism and Environmental Education Programs:
The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) is a non-partisan, non-advocacy educational organization dedicated to enhancing the quality, accuracy and visibility of environmental reporting. SEJ works to further public understanding of complex environmental issues through excellence in environmental reporting.
SEJ generally supports projects and events that foster information access and educational opportunities for environmental journalists. Examples of these might include educational conferences, courses, workshops or fellowships for journalists and journalism students.
Any specific, formal, public endorsement, co-sponsorship, or working partnership for SEJ, with regard to any specific organization, event, project or other form of educational program is subject to the principles and review process outlined in this policy.
As an organization of working journalists, SEJ maintains strict policies to protect the ethical integrity of our work and our membership.
Appropriate partners for SEJ-endorsed or co-sponsored programs generally include journalism groups, universities, university-based study centers, charitable foundations, museums and scientific research institutions.
The SEJ board authorizes the executive director to provide public endorsement of any educational opportunity for environmental journalists that meets a standard of excellence, conforms to this outline of appropriate partnerships, and serves SEJ's goals and mission.
SEJ avoids endorsements, partnerships or co-sponsored projects with organizations — including those otherwise generally considered appropriate partners for SEJ — that may be identified with special interests on environmental issues, such as corporations, government agencies, public relations firms, or environmental advocacy groups. Exceptions to this policy may be authorized by the SEJ executive committee on a case-by-case basis, at the recommendation of the executive director.
Decisions on such exceptions may be made by voice or online vote of the SEJ executive committee at any time. If the matter has anything to do with issues involving the work of a board-appointed committee or task force, including but not limited to the Freedom of Information Task Force or the Awards Committee, then the Executive Committee shall consult with the leadership of the relevant committee or task force and seek concurrence. If they do not concur, the issue will be resolved by the full SEJ Board, which has the final decision. Board-appointed committees or task forces may not make exceptions to this policy without the approval of the Executive Committee or, in case of a disagreement, the full SEJ Board. Decisions by the Executive Committee must be reported and recorded in the minutes of the next quarterly meeting of the full SEJ board.
Examples of exceptions might include SEJ's endorsement, as one of a group of co-sponsors, of an event hosted by a journalism group or university-based program, when that host might also accept and list co-sponsorship with or financial support from corporations, environmental groups or government agencies. Another example for possible exception might be for SEJ to endorse statements or otherwise participate in a freedom-of-information coalition whose members might also include advocacy groups. This type of exception would be subject to consultation guideline noted above.
This policy will be included in all new board orientation materials, posted on www.sej.org and periodically reviewed by the executive committee for possible amendment by the full board.