VaNews Content Policy

Last Revised: 9/21/2016

Purpose: VaNews is an aggregation of print newspaper and online content about Virginia politics and government.

Sources: VaNews will consider "original news reporting" that (1) is published in the print edition of newspapers; (2) appears on the website of broadcast radio and TV stations; and (3) is generated by “online news providers” that meet the standards listed below.

Standards for online news providers:

  • Published daily or weekly for at least the past six consecutive months.
  • Has in place an editor review process that includes fact checking and verification of sources
  • Works independently of any government, industry or advocacy organization
  • Does not engage in lobbying of the General Assembly or executive branch
  • May not accept news articles placed for payment, unless clearly indicated

In determining if content is "original news reporting," VPAP will consider the following:

  • Evidence that the reporter attended an event or conducted his/her own interviews.
  • A narrative structure that consists of more than (1) a string of social media postings, (2) excerpts from other media sources, or (3) video and audio clips without additional context provided.
  • Consists of more than the reporter’s analysis or commentary, and is primarily news oriented.

In addition, VaNews will carry editorials that appear in the printed edition of a daily or nondaily newspaper published in Virginia or with a wide circulation in Virginia. VaNews will consider editorials on topics that are consistent with issues covered in state and local news sections of VaNews.

VaNews will include opinion pieces on topics consistent with issues covered in state news sections of VaNews that appear in the printed versions of the state's 10 largest daily newspapers with a dedicated editorial staff. Currently, those newspapers are: Daily News-Record [Harrisonburg], Daily Press [Newport News], Daily Progress [Charlottesville], Free Lance-Star [Fredericksburg], News & Advance [Lynchburg], Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times, Virginian-Pilot [Norfolk] , Washington Post and Winchester Star.

Wire Service Rewrites

VaNews does not include wire service rewrites of news articles about stories that have appeared in VaNews.

News Briefs and News Digests

VPAP reserves the right to not run news briefs that are only several paragraphs in length. Likewise, VaNews does not include news digests that include a roundup of various news briefs.

Political Endorsements and Awards

VaNews will include news articles about endorsements that appear in the printed edition of one of the state's four largest circulation dailies. Currently, those newspapers are Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times, Virginian-Pilot [Norfolk] and, Washington Post. VaNews will not include news articles about legislators or other public officials being named "Lawmaker of the Year" or other awards.

Editing Headlines/Condensing Body of Article

In the vast majority of instances, the information presented - headline, byline and summary - will appear exactly as it does in either the online or printed edition. VPAP reserves the right to edit content to correct typos or to provide clarity (an example might be changing a headline from "Council hikes taxes" to "Richmond City Council hikes taxes). In news articles where the author takes an unusually long time to get to the point, VPAP reserves the right to truncate the summary to fit within the space considered "fair use" of copyrighted material. VPAP shall use an ellipsis ("...") to indicate the intentional omission of words.

Articles in which facts are misstated

VaNews reserves the right to refuse to include news articles, editorials or op-eds that include a glaring factual error or misstates the facts in such an obvious way as to create a wrong impression. Such decisions are rare and usually involve campaign finance information, a topic on which VPAP is a subject matter expert. VPAP's executive director must approve any decision to not run an article for factual reasons.

Any online news provider that publishes "fake" or "hoax" news (other than posts that are clearly marked as "parody") will be disqualified from inclusion in VaNews clips.

Overlooked Articles

Should an article that meets its criteria be overlooked, VaNews will include the article in the next edition.


Executive Branch, General Assembly, State Elections, State Government

VaNews will include news articles written on these topics, even if multiple newspapers write about the same issue on the same day.

Federal Elections

VaNews will include news articles about elections for one of Virginia's 11 congressional seats or its two U.S. Senate seats. VaNews also will include any articles focused on Virginia's role in a presidential election. If a Virginian becomes a national candidate, VaNews also will include articles that focus on his or her background, particularly about their record in elected office in Virginia.

Congress

VaNews will include news articles that focus on members of Virginia's congressional delegation. As a general rule, VaNews will not include general congressional articles that simply mention or quote a member of Virginia's delegation. VaNews may include articles written about congressional issues that have a particular importance to Virginia (an example of this would be the cancellation of Naval shipbuilding contracts).

Economy/Business

VaNews will include news articles that focus on state or regional economic trends or macroeconomic trends that affect the state's leading industries and employers.

Transportation

VaNews will include news articles that focus on transit, tolls, highway funding and stories with statewide policy import.

Higher Education

VaNews will include news articles about higher education, including tuition, student debt, enrollment trends, trade schools and other issues affecting the state’s public and private institutions of higher education.

Virginia Other

This section will include news articles that do not fit neatly into another category. These topics include regional cooperation, court rulings that affect public policy, open government and Virginia's insatiable fascination with its own history. As a general rule, VaNews will not include articles about crime, though VPAP reserves the right to include crime stories of extraordinary public interest (such as the "sniper") or breaches of the public trust. VaNews also may run published news obituaries of those who served as state elected officials, high-ranking state appointees or employees, college presidents, state Supreme Court justices and those whose deaths may be of particularly high interest to the state's political community.

Local

The VaNews "gold standard" for local coverage is those news articles that raise policy issues of statewide significance. The perfect article would be an issue before the Bedford Town Council that would be of equal interest to folks in the Blue Ridge as to those in Northern Virginia. VPAP recognizes such news articles are few and far between. Most newspapers cover local matters in an incremental way and for a parochial audience. VaNews is not intended to provide "news of record" for local governments. That said, the line between a trend and parochial is not always clear. Some trends (such as fiscal pressure on localities to raise property taxes) may be apparent only after a dozen newspapers write essentially the same article about actions to add a penny or two to the tax rate. VaNews' appetite for local coverage is proportional to a locality's population. VaNews subscribers can expect to see more news articles about the Fairfax County School Board (181,536 students) than the Craig County School Board (685 students).

TV/Radio

VaNews will include links to online original news reporting produced by broadcast TV and radio stations and posted online that offers a unique angle and is not repetitive of content available elsewhere in VaNews. The reporting topics covered will be consistent with the topics listed above.

Online News

VaNews will include links to online original news reporting posted by accepted online news providers that offers unique angle and is not repetitive of content found elsewhere in VaNews. The reporting topics covered will be consistent with the topics listed above. VaNews will not carry sponsored content. Online publications that take a stated partisan slant will be labeled as such.

Editorials

VaNews will include newspaper editorials written about state politics and certain editorials written local issues. Editorials about local issues must have a clear state policy significance, which is a higher standard for original news reporting that appears in the "Local" section).

Columnists

VaNews will include columns about state politics and government written by full-time newspaper employees. Columns about local issues must have a clear state policy significance (which is a higher standard than news articles included in the "Local" section).

Op-Eds

VaNews will include opinion pieces on topics consistent with the criteria for news articles that appear in the printed versions of the state's 10 largest daily newspapers with a dedicated editorial staff.