Editorial Guidelines: Ethics, Advertising, and More

Now more than ever, audiences demand accountability, transparency, equity, honesty, and integrity from the media. A new set of standards are required for our modern digital world. To that end, Digital Trends writers and editors live by a strict code of ethics, with a single goal: to provide the highest caliber of journalism, with true transparency and accountability, and a broad array of voices and perspectives to truly reflect the diverse digital world we inhabit today.

Our Mission

Digital Trends, the largest independent premium technology publisher in the world, is an award-winning multimedia brand that guides consumers to the best products and services available today — and uncovers the innovations that will shape their lives tomorrow. Across platforms, our mission is simple: To guide our audience through an increasingly complex digital world by humanizing technology and filtering out the noise.

Editorial Independence

Audiences demand honesty and integrity from Digital Trends and its content. To maintain our independence and uphold trust, editorial staffers and freelancers cannot accept compensation of any kind in exchange for a review, news coverage, or inclusion in an article or video.

To further ensure our voice and the integrity of our reviews, the editorial team maintains independence from other departments and will only cover stories and products that meet the needs of our audience. Communication between sales and editorial is important to the business, however, and is facilitated by the Editor-in-Chief.

Press Trips

Companies sometimes offer travel to colorful destinations in conjunction with coverage of their products. To avoid any influence upon our content, Digital Trends pays for its own travel and lodging to cover products or events except in special circumstances. In each of those exceptions, the published content will clearly note that the trip has been paid for by a third party. All such exceptions are discussed and cleared by senior editors, and any request to sponsor travel will be treated as a sales pitch and shared with the sales team.

When editors write about products and services from companies in which they also invest, there is a potential conflict of interest. In the interests of transparency for the audience, editorial staff must not knowingly invest in the companies and products they cover. Any such investments must be disclosed to the reader.

Plagiarism

Fabrication of any extent is unacceptable. It violates the trust of our audience. Plagiarism occurs when a portion of text is cut and pasted from another article, without citing where the text originally came from. It is not acceptable to merely make minor modifications to another publication’s wording or to duplicate its story structure. We will make every effort to ensure that our editorial staff gathers and verifies every piece of information included on the site, and our writers produce stories with original phrasing and structure and with additional information and context. Where we cannot verify someone else’s reporting, we will clearly link back to the original source.

Professional Conduct

We treat news sources, contacts, and media relations professionals with the same courtesy and respect Digital Trends shows to its audience. To that end, writers and editors must always present themselves honestly, never using deception or pretense to obtain information and always being transparent about who they are and what they do.

That respect is embodied in our appearance: Digital Trends staff members carry themselves appropriately, with dress and language that fits a professional setting. Coarse language, vulgarity, sexism, racism, and so on are explicitly banned in our content and in our day-to-day interactions, including on social media.

Commerce Content

Commerce-related content – deals, sales, and more – aims to recommend products that meet the needs and quality expectations of our audience. To maintain independence, this content is created by a separate team at Digital Trends, which works closely with the editorial team to identify important products that meet both team’s needs and seeks guidance from our product reviewers when possible.

The Commerce team determines which e-commerce sites to include in links and buttons based on where our readers are most confident shopping and who has the best price and product availability, taking into account performance and partnership opportunities.

Wherever relevant, such content is clearly marked with a disclaimer: “Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.”

Corrections, Updates, and Feedback

Minor errors are a fact of life; Digital Trends deals with them promptly and transparently. When necessary, we post clear updates to our articles indicating the date a change was made and what specifically was corrected.

Readers who believe they have identified an error or mistake in our reporting are encouraged to contact the news desk directly via news@digitaltrends.com. The editorial team will examine the question fairly, with an open mind, and update as necessary.

If we need to retract a story entirely, we do so transparently as well. We do not unpublish or “disappear” problem copy.

Diversity

Our audience is vast, which provides Digital Trends with the opportunity and obligation to amplify underrepresented voices. The editorial team is committed to prioritizing technology-related stories involving BIPOC, women, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented groups, and to freelance and in-house hiring practices that significantly increase the share of writers belonging to these groups. Additionally, all content must adhere to the editorial stylebook, which directly addresses covering topics such as racism, sexism, and other forms of identity discrimination.

Digital Trends is committed to fostering a safe, healthy, and supportive environment for everyone, in our content and in our workplace. All types of workplace harassment are strictly prohibited, including sexual harassment, bullying behavior, and other forms of workplace harassment based upon an individual’s age, race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, uniformed service member status, or any other status protected by law. This policy extends to the content we create.

Sensitive Content

People change, society changes, and standards change. There is no universal “blacklist” of taboo topics on Digital Trends, but by keeping our Core Values in sight and the reader in mind at all times, we arrive at content that’s on brand and advances our Mission — to guide our audience through an increasingly complex digital world by humanizing technology and filtering out the noise.

That said, there is a formal process to handle sticky topics when they come up: First, writers flag their editor before tackling a potentially sensitive subject. This should be interpreted in the broadest possible way: sensitive to someone, even if it isn’t sensitive to the writer personally.

When considering stories on potentially sensitive topics, it is of paramount importance to consider Our Mission, and for the writer to ask him or herself: Does coverage of this topic fit? Should the need arise, the Editor in Chief is solely responsible for making decisions about sensitive content. At his discretion, the Editor in Chief may ask for advice from an editorial board consisting of senior editors from every Designtechnica site, along with representatives from relevant communities, where applicable.

When sensitive content merits publishing, the Editor in Chief communicates the decision to all relevant parties. This could include the publisher, head of sales, legal counsel, and other parties, depending on the nature of the article. The Editor in Chief gives these teams enough time to take appropriate action, which may include things like turning off ads, notifying advertisers, or in other way minimize the potential impact on the business.

Advertising

To avoid confusing our audience, editorial staff will not be featured in advertisements or sponsored content. Indeed, editorial staff work solely on content for our audience. All content that is sponsored, promoted, an advertisement, or otherwise paid for must be marked as such.

Branded Content

Branded content is commissioned articles or videos meant to promote products, services, or a brand. To ensure the authority of our voice and content, branded content is produced completely independent of the editorial department. It is managed exclusively by the integrated marketing department in support of advertising and other forms of paid sponsorship initiatives.

To avoid confusing the reader, branded content is clearly marked throughout — as “powered by” or “in partnership with,” for example — and it is designed to look different enough from editorial content that a reader would not be confused by it. All branded content has a byline that reflects its source. On social media, all posts adhere to IAB guidelines and FTC rules governing disclosure of sponsorship, as well as platform-specific rules, where they exist.

Branded content may use freelance talent, third-party spokespeople, and/or influencers, which are independent of the editorial department.

Sponsored Content

Sometimes, a brand will underwrite existing or ongoing editorial coverage, but they cannot influence the content itself or interfere with its editorial integrity, which should represent the needs of our audience. Only existing planned editorial coverage is available to be sponsored.

When content is sponsored, a brand’s media (ads and logo) will surround the content, and it is clearly marked as “sponsored by” the applicable brand. Sponsored coverage can include events such as CES, topics like computing or telecommunications, and special series or features, for example.

Distribution

On occasion, we distribute sponsored editorial content and paid branded content through our distributed platforms. They are clearly labeled as “sponsored by” (for editorial sponsorships) or “paid content” (for branded content) in the post and further labeled using platform-specific tools, where possible.

Licensed and Promoted Content

Companies sometimes look to acquire the rights to reproduce or license part of an article we wrote, a video we produced, or a logo or badge we assigned to one of their products or services. This content could be used in an ad, on a company’s websites and social channels, on product boxes, or for other purposes.

This is testimony to the value of our opinions as much as to the diligence of our review processes, since companies look to license such quotes and awards only from the most trusted sources, and it is handled independently of the editorial team.

Additionally, the company may use editorial content for its own promotional purposes including but not limited to audience development, user acquisition, and/or other forms of brand-promotion. This requires no advance notification or approval from the editorial team.

Legal Issues

Lawsuits and legal issues can impact our ability to convey information to our audience, and as such it is the responsibility of all editorial staff to be on guard against publishing content that may expose the company to legal liability. Potentially troublesome content should be brought to the attention of the legal department for thorough vetting before publication. Truth is the best defense against libel.

Should Digital Trends determine that it is necessary to publish such material, the Editor in Chief first brings it to the attention of our legal department. The General Counsel reviews any such material and counsels the Editor in Chief and Publisher on how best to proceed.