MIT Technology Review adheres to the traditional best practices of journalism. The guiding principles are based on our responsibility to the reader to produce accurate, fair, and independent editorial. This means, among other things, following the guidelines set by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) for digital and print publications.
a. Sources. It also means adhering to conventional journalistic standards covering attribution and sourcing of information. Our standard practice is to gather information directly from those involved in creating, financing, and understanding new technologies. We work with these sources to ensure that our content is accurate and presented in its proper context.
In almost all cases, we properly and clearly identify our sources. Only in rare circumstances do we attribute information to unnamed sources, and only when there is a legitimate reason, such as protecting the safety of the source. Writers tell their editors the true identity of unnamed sources, except in extraordinary cases. We clearly explain to our readers why we are using an unnamed source.
In reporting stories with unattributed quotations, we would tell the unnamed sources that they were speaking to us “not for attribution.” If we tell sources they are speaking “off the record,” we mean that nothing we hear will be quoted, even without attribution. We always introduce ourselves as writers or editors for MIT Technology Review. Under no circumstances would we misrepresent ourselves in order to gain information.
b. Accuracy and balance. It is the responsibility of all our editors and writers to be accurate and honest. We rely on our professional experience, judgment, and knowledge, guided by our responsibility to help our readers understand a subject. We don’t reflexively give equal weight to all sides of a discussion. In matters of controversy, we will report the arguments of both sides fairly; but our ethical obligation is not to please any interest or party to a debate, but to bear witness to the truth if we know it, or to delineate the terms of the controversy if the truth of the matter is genuinely in doubt.
c. Fact-checking and editing. MIT Technology Review’s features, reviews, and some infographic stories enjoy the thorough fact-checking and multiple edits traditional to magazine journalism. Directories, charts, graphs, and similar data-rich elements are also fact-checked. News, news-analysis, opinions, and shorter stories receive abbreviated fact-checking and editing. Our events cannot, practically, be fact-checked, although we invite only authoritative, responsible speakers.
Professional Conduct and Independence
To preserve our independence, MIT Technology Review maintains strict rules guiding our professional conduct.
a. Gifts. Employees may not accept gifts of any kind, including samples from companies or products handed out at conferences and trade shows.
We solicit and receive electronic products to review; all such products are returned soon after the review is completed. Books, records, music, and software are treated like press releases. They can be kept by the person who reviews them or given away; they cannot be sold for personal profit. Any product reviews reflect our honest opinion of the product and are not affected by the willingness of the company to supply us with samples.
We are sometimes invited to conferences that are closed to the general public; on occasion, the invitations waive or discount the attendance fee as a press privilege. We go to such events and accept the discount when we think we will learn something useful to our audiences.
b. Reimbursements. Our writers, editors, and freelancers do not accept reimbursement for travel or other expenses from the companies we cover, or from public-relations firms or regional development agencies. If a writer, editor, or freelancer flies on a private or corporate plane, or accepts other, similarly funded travel, we repay our hosts the cost of the trip.
c. Freelancing. Employees are forbidden to do any freelance work that violates our independence, including providing consulting services to any companies that we cover. They may accept fees for speeches, but they cannot speak for pay to the companies we regularly cover. We ask freelance writers to divulge their business interests and do not knowingly hire writers with connections to the companies about which they write.
d. Investments. MIT Technology Review’s editors, writers, or freelancers cannot directly own individual stocks or equities in companies we cover, nor may they sell such shares short. If the spouse or partner of an editor, writer, or freelancer owned significant stock or equity in a company we cover, we would disclose the investment in a transparent way.
MIT Technology Review follows the accepted practice of the media industry, enforcing a strict separation of “church and state” (editorial and advertisement). In accepting digital advertising, we follow the standards and guidelines of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). With print advertising, we are guided by the standards of ASME and the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA). At our events, we are careful to distinguish between our own programming and that of our sponsors.
a. Influence. This means that our advertising-sales and business development staff do not attempt to influence editorial coverage and do not suggest to potential advertisers or their agencies that coverage can be purchased. As a business, we do consider whether the broad topics of special issues and reports will be attractive to advertisers or their agencies. The editor in chief, editor, executive editor, and senior editors may speak or meet with potential advertisers or their agencies, but only to better explain the editorial mission of MIT Technology Review, and will at all times avoid creating the perception that editorial can be influenced by any business arrangements.
b. Transparency. Our publishing platforms, whether digital or print, have been designed to avoid confusion between editorial and advertising. Where there is ambiguity, anything sponsored or otherwise purchased in MIT Technology Review’s media is labeled “advertisement” or “sponsored.” Ads are positioned to avoid any misperception that they are endorsed by editorial. At our events, displays and speeches by sponsors are clearly and unambiguously described as purchased. (More details on our native or sponsored advertising policies can be read here.)
MIT Technology Review licenses its editorial and brand to independent media companies around the world. We work with companies that share our ethics and standards, although, inevitably, journalism practices and media industry norms vary from region to region.
Relationship to MIT
MIT Technology Review is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit media company, wholly owned by MIT but editorially independent from it. Several members of our board of directors, including its chair, are senior officers of MIT. Our board provides financial oversight and corporate governance, and also offers strategic advice to the company’s chief executive and senior staff. The complete list of the board can be found here.
MIT Technology Review is governed by the same integrity and commitment to excellence as other departments, labs, and centers at MIT. We benefit from the Institute’s many resources, including easy access to its prominent faculty and researchers. At the same time, our coverage of technology is independent of MIT. We do not favor people or technologies simply because they are associated with the Institute. We are not part of MIT’s communications functions; it is not our job to promote its activities.
The exception to this last rule is MIT News, a supplement to MIT Technology Review: it is paid for by the alumni association and distributed to all the Institute’s alumni and most of its students and faculty. Some of the stories in MIT News are written by reporters from the Institute’s News Office, although the section’s editor is a MIT Technology Review employee.