Our Mission, Ethics and Guidelines
MindSite News is a nonprofit, nonpartisan digital journalism organization dedicated to reporting on mental health in America, exposing rampant policy failures and spotlighting efforts to solve them. We seek to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the workings and failings of the U.S. mental health system and to impact that system through our reporting, making it more equitable, effective, transparent and humane in its care for individuals and families struggling with mental illness.
We have a mental health crisis across our country. As a nonprofit focused solely on mental health news, MindSite News was launched in the fall of 2021 to fill the void in coverage of this crucial topic. It is now the only national news outlet devoted exclusively to covering mental health. It has become an indispensable source of nonpartisan, fact-based news, research and public policy, watchdog reporting and solutions journalism.
In our coverage of mental health, we report on a broad range of mental health issues. We aggregate mental health news in a daily newsletter, creating a lively, engaging snapshot of what’s going on in the world of mental health for our readers. In our original reporting, we cover policy issues, the youth mental health crisis, the intersection of criminal justice and mental health and potential solutions. We also keep up with mental health research and science, publish guest essays and book reviews, do video and print interviews with mental health newsmakers and cover the ways mental health is portrayed in art and culture.
We are editorially independent and focus much of our effort on two vital areas: 1) Investigating and exposing the failings and flaws of our mental health system. 2) Bringing to light innovative solutions that have the potential to solve these issues and bring effective programs and policies to scale.
We invite readers to join in through feedback, critiques, story tips and social media (you can find us on Twitter @mindsitenews, Instagram @mindsitenews, LinkedIn and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mindsitenews.) You can also subscribe to our free daily newsletter. However you decide to engage with us, please let us hear from you at email@example.com.
MindSite News Team
Rob Waters, Founding Editor
Diana Hembree, Co-Founding Editor
Josh McGhee, Staff Reporter, Criminal Justice
Tiffany Raether, Operations Manager
Tina Rosenberg, Chair, Editorial Advisory Board
TaSin Sabir, Designer
Erin Eberle, Strategy and social media
MindSite News Advisory Board
Our advisory board, which you can find here, is made up of mental health researchers and professionals, nonprofit and foundation leaders, former legislators and veteran journalists from PBS, the Pulitzer Center, the Solutions Journalism Network, the Washington Post and other outlets.
MindSite News has three full-time journalists and 15 regular contributors, along with dozens of occasional writers. Our freelance reporters and writers hail from California, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and many other places in the United States as well as France, Spain and other countries. You can find out more about them, the areas of reporting they specialize in, and the places they’ve worked in our key contributors’ section, which follows the News Team/Editorial leadership section; you can also find the information in the short bios of writers that accompany their stories. If you have tips, story ideas, or other feedback, you can reach them via firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also proud to co-publish stories and to republish stories from non-profit news organizations, newspapers, magazines and radio stations. You can find out more about the places we work with in our News Agency Partners page.
MindSite News uses the byline “Staff” on staff editorials in which its newsroom editors take a united position on an issue.
Funding and support
MindSite News is funded by grants it has received from the California Health Care Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund, NIHCM, Sosozei Foundation, van Ameringen Fund, The Ittleson Foundation, The 4 am Fund, and The Trust Project, as well as generous individual donors.
Our ethics policy is adapted from the code developed by the Society of Professional Journalists, as well as those of The Marshall Project, Inside Climate News, Kaiser Health News, and other nonprofit journalism organizations that we greatly respect.
As a nonprofit, MindSite News depends on individuals and foundations for funding, but our news judgments are made independently and never on the basis of donor support. Donors should not expect preferential coverage and should understand that we may publish content with which they disagree. Readers should know that in the event we write about our funders or members of our board of directors or advisory board, our relationship will be fully disclosed.
MindSite News may accept support for coverage of particular topics, but our editorial staff determines what those topics are and retains full control of the resulting stories. Editorial copy is never shared with anyone, including donors, prior to publication.
MindSite News aims to produce reliable, trustworthy journalism – accurate, fair and independent. Because we are human, we will sometimes get things wrong. When we do, we will acknowledge our mistakes and correct them. (Please see our Corrections Policy and Practice, below).
Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
In our reporting we aim to reduce the stigma that historically has been associated with mental illness. But stigma still exists, and we understand that writing about mental illness is especially fraught and requires great sensitivity.
We will be reporting on suicides and deaths of despair of people with mental health and substance use disorders. We recognize our obligation to do this in a sensitive and rigorous way and in a way that does not cause further harm to survivors or family and friends of the deceased. We will follow the guidelines for reporting on suicide developed by leading public health and media organizations.
Journalists working for MindSite News should:
– Be accurate and take responsibility. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible. Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
– Provide context. Take care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
– Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
– Be cautious when making promises but keep the promises they make.
– Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
– Use anonymous sources only when needed to convey important information to our readers, not to publish material that is trivial, obvious or self‐serving. (See Unnamed Sources section – link).
– Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution, ostracism or other harm. Explain the reasons for granting anonymity.
– Seek out competing views in news stories covering controversies so readers can make up their own minds.
– Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond. People who will be shown in an adverse light must be given a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves. This means making a good‐faith effort to give the subject of allegations or criticism sufficient time and information to respond substantively.
– Avoid traditional undercover methods of gathering information. If working in a job to gain material for a story, for example, writers should clearly identify themselves as journalists to the workplace.
– Be vigilant about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
– Serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
– Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate. We will includes references at the end of investigative and enterprise stories, among others, and link to the sources.
– Present the diversity of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
– Treat sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
– Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or social status.
– Distinguish between fact and opinion by labeling work as opinion, advocacy or commentary when appropriate.
– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
– Never plagiarize. Always attribute.
– Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
– Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Be especially sensitive when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources who are inexperienced or may lack the capacity to give meaningful consent.
– Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing personal information.
– Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
– Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
– Consider the implications of discussing someone’s mental health challenges and the extended reach and permanence of publication.
– Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
– Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity, impartiality or credibility.
– Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
– Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
– Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.
– Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Expose unethical conduct, including within our own organization. Abide by the same high standards we expect of others.
Verification and Fact Checking Standards
Accuracy, transparency, and fairness are crucial to our work. We use primary sources, do in-person interviews whenever possible and encourage our writers to do so. We also encourage them to interview people in communities using old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting as well as phone or video interviews. We check spelling, names, dates, times, and quotations, and we work to overcome confirmation bias by seeking out all sides of a story.
Writers are asked to factcheck their stories and to submit references and source material to help editors fact-check during the editing process. If the story warrants it, we might submit it to a medical reviewer or our media attorney for an added layer of review. If we find or hear about a mistake, we correct it promptly (see Corrections Policy, below, and our Corrections page here).
Diverse Voices Statement
We are committed to inclusion and diversity in our pages, including stories from all our communities, including Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Pacific Islanders, whites, and LGBTQ+. We believe that diversity includes neuro-diversity, and we welcome hearing from mental health advocates and people who’ve experienced trauma, prolonged grief and other mental health problems and illnesses. We invite people across the country – students, parents, extended family members, teachers, therapists, researchers, health care providers, legislators, elder and people in every line of work, to join our community and share their thoughts, ideas and perspectives with us and with each other.
We also want to reach out to communities, including migrants, working-class whites, and people who are incarcerated, which may feel abandoned by the larger society and are often left out of the discourse about mental health. While we primarily focus on the United States, we also want to report on mental health issues, needs and successes from other parts of the world, and invite international voices to help show us the way to new solutions. To all of you, we extend a warm welcome. For questions, story tips, feedback and submissions, please write to us at email@example.com.
Diverse Staffing Report
MindSite News is committed to forming and maintaining a diverse editorial and marketing team from a broad range of backgrounds, including our freelance writers and the members of our board of directors and editorial advisory board.
As of January 2023, the MindSite News Team, including strategy and marketing, is 55% white, 33% Black, and 11% Asian. It is 55.5% female, 33% male, and 11% non-binary.
Our key contributors are 60% white and 40% BIPOC: 16% Black, 16% Latino and 8% Asian.
Our editorial advisory board is 60% white, 20% Asian and South Asian; 10% Black, and 10% Latino. It is 50% male and 50% female.
Languages spoken: English, Spanish, French, Mandarin.
News agency& News Organization Partners
MindSite News is proud to partner with other news organizations to co-publish stories and is also pleased to republish stories produced by other outlets, including digital news sites, newspapers, magazines, and radio stations. For a complete list and description of news outlets and nonprofit news organizations we’ve worked with to co-publish stories, please see our News Organization & News Agency Partner page.
Corrections Policy and Practice
MindSite News welcomes your feedback, including comments on anything you see that needs to be corrected. We ask authors for their source materials and fact-check our articles, but inevitably there will be misunderstandings and errors. We’re committed to accurate and conscientious journalism, so our policy is to make necessary corrections quickly and transparently.
We include corrections at the top of the story in question and include the time and date of the correction. The corrections are listed in our MindSite News corrections page as well, which you can link to from this page and where you can search for them by story and date.
We have not had to retire a story due to mistakes or a faulty thesis, but in the event that a story was so riddled with errors that it was impossible to fix, MindSite News’ co-editors would make the decision to pull it off the site permanently and explain why.
To ask for a correction, please fill out the form on the Contact Us page. You can also use the form to discuss articles, send us tips for stories, or make a complaint.
MindSite News is a nonprofit, nonpartisan digital publication focused on mental health news. We are independent of outside interests that could undermine our editorial integrity. MindSite News was founded by two veteran journalists, Rob Waters and Diana Hembree, and Dr. Tom Insel, the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health. As a nonprofit, the news organization has no owner. It is funded by foundations and individuals (see Funding and Support), who have no control over the content of our coverage. Our fiscal sponsor is the 50-year-old San Francisco Study Center, a leader in the field of fiscal sponsorship. Like funders and individual contributors, the San Francisco Study has no control over our content. Its nonprofit tax form 990 can be found here.
Our newsgathering is independent of commercial or political interests, and we are also independent from any board or advisor interests. In working on a story, we do not accept gifts, including paid travel, in order to avoid any conflict-of-interest or the appearance of it. When we rely on an organization for access to an event, we are transparent about the relationship and note it within the relevant work. The newsroom is insulated from donors and foundations by a firewall.
MindSite News was hatched as a concept in the spring of 2021 and published for the first time on Sept. 29, 2021.
While part of our mission as a journalism organization is to help reduce the stigma and shame that is connected to people grappling with mental illness, we also recognize that stigma continues to exist and can be powerful. In our stories we will use named sources whenever possible, but we also understand that, in some circumstances, sources may face serious repercussions if their names are disclosed. In some cases, these repercussions may include loss of income or jobs, loss of present or future income in the case of some people with serious mental illnesses or recovering substance users, or even danger; in other cases, the sources may be minors who wish to remain anonymous or whose families who are reluctant for us to use their names. In these cases, we as editors will withhold the name of source for their own protection.
In such cases, reporters – after consulting with the co-founding executive editors – may grant anonymity, although we will always consider sources’ motives before promising it. We reserve anonymity for sources who may face job loss, danger, retribution, ostracism or other harm, and we will explain the reasons for granting anonymity to our readers. In all cases, the executive editors will know the identity of the source.
Reader Engagement and Feedback
MindSite News welcomes feedback from you, our readers, and the communities we cover at home and abroad. Your involvement gives us new ideas for coverage and strengthens our reporting on undercovered stories that need to be told. We also benefit from your corrections (Please see our Corrections Policy and Practice, above, and our corrections page for more).
We also invite you to keep in touch with us by subscribing to our daily newsletter, which includes a weekly parenting newsletter and a monthly newsletter on the intersection of mental health and criminal justice. You can also engage with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as in our Facebook Live interviews and others. And of course, you can contact the newsroom and our public engagement team any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newsroom Contact Info
You can write us at email@example.com or by filling out our Contact Form (below). You can also reach our key contributors by emailing them care of firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out the form attached to their profiles.
If you accept cookies on the site, your browsing history will be available to us. This information, shared in aggregate form, shows which stories are being read and which links are clicked on and helps us see what our readers are most interested in.
If you sign up for our daily newsletter, your name and email will remain in our database so we can send you the newsletter. You may also receive fundraising emails from us, as well as requests for funding embedded in the newsletter. If you wish to stop getting the newsletter or remove your name from our system, we will promptly honor your request.
We will not share personally identifiable information (such as your name or email address) with our partners. Agencies such as Google may use data collection technologies on our websites. Use by these third parties of cookies and other technology will be subject to their own privacy policies.
MindSite News uses Newspack Automattic as its platform, which is committed to privacy. Here is an excerpt from Newspack policies on privacy:
“Your privacy is critically important to us. At Automattic, we have a few fundamental principles:
- We are thoughtful about the personal information we ask you to provide and the personal information that we collect about you through the operation of our services.
- We store personal information for only as long as we have a reason to keep it.
- We aim to make it as simple as possible for you to control what information on your website is shared publicly (or kept private), indexed by search engines, and permanently deleted.
- We help protect you from overreaching government demands for your personal information.
- We aim for full transparency on how we gather, use, and share your personal information.
“Who We Are and What This Policy Covers”
Howdy! We are the folks behind a variety of products and services designed to allow anyone – from bloggers, to photographers, small business owners, and enterprises – to take full advantage of the power and promise of the open web. Our mission is to democratize publishing and commerce so that anyone with a story can tell it, and anyone can turn their great idea into a livelihood. We believe in powering the open internet with code that is open source and are proud to say that the vast majority of our work is available under the General Public License (“GPL”). Unlike most other services, because our GPL code is public, you can actually download and take a look at that code to see how it works.
- Our websites (including automattic.com, wordpress.com, vip.wordpress.com, jetpack.com, woocommerce.com, crowdsignal.com, gravatar.com, intensedebate.com, vaultpress.com, akismet.com, simplenote.com, simperium.com, leandomainsearch.com, cloudup.com, longreads.com, atavist.com, mailpoet.com, automatewoo.com, jetpackcrm.com, happy.tools, wpcourses.com, wpscan.com, newspack.pub, and wp.cloud);
- Our mobile applications (including the WordPress mobile app for Android and iOS);
- Our other Automattic products, services, and features that are available on or through our websites (for example, WordPress.com plans, the Payments feature, the Pay with PayPal block, WordPress.com VIP, Jetpack, the WooCommerce Shipping & Tax extension, Gravatar, the IntenseDebate comment management system, Akismet plans, Simplenote, Simperium, Cloudup, Longreads, MailPoet, AutomateWoo, Jetpack CRM, Happy Tools, WordPress.com Courses, WPScan and Newspack); and
- Other users’ websites that use our Services, while you are logged in to your account with us.
“Below we explain how we collect, use, and share information about you, along with the choices that you have with respect to that information.”
Creative Commons Sharealike License
Additional MindSite News information
Dr. Tom Insel is a donor to MindSite News and the founding chair of its Editorial Advisory Board. He is a co-founder of Mindstrong Health, NeuraWell Therapeutics and Humanest Care, and has equity in Humanest Care. He is a shareholder in publicly traded Alphabet, Apple, Compass Pathways, Karuna and Microsoft and holds private equity positions in Alto Neuroscience, Mindstrong Health, NeuraWell Therapeutics, Owl Insights, Uplift and Valera Health. He is a board member of Fountain House, Foundation for the National Institutes for Health, HealthCare Capital Corp., Valera Health (observer status) and the Steinberg Institute, where he serves as board chair. He is also a member of the advisory boards of the Leonard Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California, Alto Neuroscience, Embodied Inc., Koa Health, NeuraWell Therapeutics, Owl Insights, PsychHub and Cerebral Inc.