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Editorial Guidelines: Mission, Conduct, 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: provide the highest caliber of journalism, with 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.

How we test products and services

Our editors, writers, and contributors test products and services in the real world. We’ve formed teams of experts in each of our sections, bringing decades of experience to provide our readers with authoritative, unbiased coverage. Our reviews are based on our hands-on experience with the products, services, and content.

Editorial independence

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

To further ensure the integrity of our coverage, the Editorial team maintains independence from other departments and will only cover stories, companies, and products that meet the needs of our audience. Communication between Sales and Editorial is important to the business, however, and that partnership is facilitated by the Editor in Chief.

In the interest 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.

Press trips

Companies sometimes offer to cover the cost of travel and accommodations in conjunction with coverage of their products. In situations where travel expenses are covered by a company, the associated content will note that the trip has been paid for by a third party. All such situations are discussed with and approved by Editorial managers. Content produced in conjunction with the travel will remain completely independent, and sponsoring companies will not be provided coverage guarantees or copy approval.

Plagiarism

Fabrication of any content to 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.

Writers’ use of A.I. tools to generate any considerable portion of an article is not permitted.

We make every effort to ensure that our Editorial staff verify every piece of information on Digital Trends, 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 its audience. To that end, editors and writers must always present themselves honestly, never using deception or pretense to obtain information, and always be 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, and racism are explicitly banned in our content and in our day-to-day interactions, including on social media.

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 Editorial team directly via news@digitaltrends.com. The team will examine the question fairly, with an open mind, and update articles as necessary.

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. Furthermore, our freelance and in-house hiring practices focus on increasing the share of our writers belonging to these groups.

All content must adhere to the Digital Trends 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 list of taboo topics on Digital Trends, but by keeping our Core Values in sight and the audience 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.

There is a formal process to handle potentially sensitive topics when they come up. First, writers flag their Editor before tackling such a 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.

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 sponsors, or minimizing the potential impact on the business in other ways.

Commerce content

Commerce-related content, such as deals, aims to recommend products that meet the needs and quality expectations of our audience. To maintain independence, this content is created by a separate Commerce team at Digital Trends, which works closely with the Editorial team to identify important products that meet both teams’ needs. It also seeks guidance from our product experts when possible.

The Commerce team determines which e-commerce sites to include in links and buttons based on where our audience is 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.”

Paid content

Editorial staff work solely on content for our audience. All content that paid for by an advertiser must be marked as “sponsored” or “branded” to avoid any potential confusion for the audience.

Branded content

Branded content includes 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 independently of the Editorial department. It is managed exclusively by the Integrated Marketing team in support of advertisers and other forms of paid sponsorship initiatives.

To avoid confusing the audience, written branded content is clearly marked as “Paid Program,” and is designed to look different from editorial content so a reader would not be confused or misled. Branded content will not display a byline of an Editorial team member. On social media, all posts adhere to Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) guidelines and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules governing disclosure of sponsorship, as well as platform-specific rules, where they exist.

Written branded content may use non-editorial writers, freelance talent, third-party spokespeople, and/or influencers, which are independent of the Editorial department.

Sponsored content

Sometimes, a company will underwrite proposed, existing, or ongoing Editorial content, but it cannot influence the content itself or interfere with its editorial integrity, which should continue to represent the needs of our audience. A sponsoring company will not have copy approval or specific considerations in the resulting content.

When content is sponsored, a brand’s media (ads and/or logo) will be present in or around the content, and is marked as “presented by” the applicable brand. Sponsored coverage can range from events such as CES or IFA to topics like Computing or Gaming to special series or features, for example.

Distribution

On occasion, we distribute sponsored Editorial content and paid branded content through our platforms. It is 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 acquire the rights to reproduce or display 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 website and social channels, on product boxes, or for other purposes.

Additionally, companies 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.

This is testimony to the value of our opinions, as much as to the diligence of our processes, as companies look to license such quotes and awards only from the most trusted sources. Content licensing is handled by a licensing agency, independently of the Editorial team.

Legal

Lawsuits and legal issues can impact our ability to convey information to our audience, and as such, it is the responsibility of all Editorial team members to be alert to publishing content that may expose the company to legal liability. Potentially troublesome content should be brought to the attention of the Legal department and Editor in Chief 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.