Updated April 25, 2012
To be considered for INN membership an organization must first complete the application form available at the INN website. Every organization admitted into the Investigative News Network must meet the requirements listed below. For legal requirements, see our legal guide.
1. Nonprofit status
- Members must be organized as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
2. Donor Transparency
- Members must post online policies regarding fundraising and donations.
- Members must disclose names of all donors who have contributed $1,000 or more. INN encourages the disclosure of all donors.
- Members must post online the IRS form 990, or the equivalent budget and salary information.
INN recognizes each applicant may have different fundraising and donations policies, but encourages as much transparency as possible to ensure that each organization’s journalism does not support the views, interests or policies of any single political party or political viewpoint, or that of any single religion or religious viewpoint.The applicant or an existing member shall discuss with the membership and standards committee the circumstances of:
- Potential or existing donors who have requested anonymity and have contributed a total of $1,000 or more.
- Any donor organization that does not disclose the source of its funding.
After that discussion, the committee will advise the board on whether the applicant qualifies for membership or an existing member still qualifies for membership.
3. Non-partisan journalism
- Create, publish and produce non-partisan information and news. Non-partisan means the Member is engaged in investigative and/or public interest news reporting that is not based upon, influenced by or supportive of the interests or policies of (i) any single political party or political viewpoint or (ii) any single religion or religious viewpoint, and that the Member will continue to be so engaged at all times during the term of this Agreement.
- Lobby only for freedom of information and freedom of press issues.
4. Apply high journalistic standards for accuracy and fairness and which prevent conflicts of interest that compromise the integrity of the work.
- The membership and standards committee will review each member organization periodically, and investigate, at its discretion, any complaints or any evidence that it discovers on its own accord that would suggest that a member organization has violated any membership standards and/or the binding membership agreement.
- INN will acknowledge receipt of an application within one week of receipt.
- INN will have the membership committee review each pending application within two weeks, decide whether INN needs more information, and then recommend approval or rejection to the board within one month of beginning the process. This ensures a turnaround time of six weeks except in special situations or where further information is requested and pending from the applicant.
- Upon recommendation by the Membership Standards Committee and upon receiving full board approval, the applicant organization will be notified and asked to sign the standard INN membership agreement. If the committee rejects an application, it must do so in writing stating which of the membership standards it believes in its best judgment are not currently being met by the applicant.
- Upon receiving said notification in writing, the applicant may submit an appeal in writing to the full board including any further documentation supporting its position of qualification. If the board rejects a committee-approved applicant, then the applicant may also submit an appeal in writing. The full board’s vote is final and the board is not obliged to provide any reason or documentation of how it arrived at its decision. An applicant may submit a new application no sooner than one year after receiving notification of the board vote.
- Once an applicant has been approved, INN must receive a signed copy of the membership agreement for the applicant to be considered a member of the Network and entitled to all the membership benefits and privileges herein.
- All INN member organizations that have previously been accepted into the Network prior to the publishing of these standards and/or binding membership agreement are expected to sign the same membership agreement to continue to remain a member of the Network in good standing. Failure to submit an executed membership agreement will result in revocation of membership privileges.
- INN reserves the rights to amend, change, edit and make additions to both the membership standards and/or binding membership agreement at any time providing it provides prior notification of at least 30 days to the member organizations.