Freelancer News Values
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Key points for freelance journalists and photographers performing contracted work for the AP

For more than 170 years, The Associated Press has brought news and information to the world. We go to great lengths to ensure that the news from AP is reported quickly, accurately and honestly, in a balanced and impartial way. 

As a freelancer working for the AP, you are asked to review and abide by these core values: 


We hate inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions. We will not knowingly introduce rumor or false information into material for publication or broadcast; nor will we distort visual content. Quotations must be accurate and precise. We preserve appropriate professional distance from those we cover. 


We identify all the sources of our information in stories. We allow anonymous information from sources only under limited circumstances. Any use of anonymity must be approved by a news manager familiar with AP’s strict standards and who must be told the identity of the source of the information.  


We never plagiarize content, and we respect others’ copyrights.  


We guard our independence. We avoid any behavior or activities that create a conflict of interest, that compromise our ability to report the news fairly and accurately, free from outside influence or pressure.  

Freelance journalists working for AP should work to remain impartial and avoid expressions of opinion in public forums or on social media that might compromise AP’s reputation as an unbiased and fair news source, such as commenting on public figures or public controversies. 


We don't misrepresent ourselves to get a story. When we seek an interview, we identify ourselves as AP journalists.  


We balance the newsworthiness of a story with a reasonable respect for individuals’ privacy and safety interests. Freelance journalists working for AP are expected to conduct themselves in a way that does not cause undue risk or danger to themselves or others.  


We never pay newsmakers for interviews, to take their photographs or to film or record them. We do not provide full lists of questions in advance or allow interview subjects to approve our stories or images before publication. 


We work to be fair. Whenever we portray someone in a negative light, we must make a real effort to obtain a response from that person in the story. We work to provide balance in stories to reflect all important viewpoints and perspectives on a news event.  


When mistakes are made, they must be corrected – fully, quickly and transparently. Alert your manager immediately if you learn of an error in your work.  


We do not manipulate photos or video, adding or subtracting elements. If in doubt about permissible editing techniques, consult an AP editor or manager. 

It is the responsibility of every freelance journalist or contractor working with AP to ensure that these standards are respected and reflected in their work. 



If you perceive a conflict, or realize that you have, in the past, been involved in some conflict that would reflect badly on your work for AP, you must immediately notify your AP editor and the AP shall then determine whether your assignment may go forward. Examples of conflicts of interest are set forth below and include, but are not limited to the following:

    1. You may not accept gifts or payments from sources, public relations agencies, corporations or others hoping to encourage or influence AP news coverage. You may accept trinkets of nominal value, $25 or less – for example, caps or mugs.
    2. You may not sell for personal gain books, tapes, recordings or other items received for review or provided as promotional material for an event, person or company.
    3. You may not accept free transportation, lodging, food or related goods or services, or any media discounts, or any preferential treatment (such as upgrades on flights or hotels) that may be offered because you are a contractor for the AP. You may accept shuttle bus rides or food at a news event, since the effect is to make it easier to do your job, without having to absent yourself.
    4. You may not refer to books or commercial enterprises within your AP stories, with the intent to benefit the promoters of those books or enterprises – or for any other purpose other than their relevance to your AP assignment.
    5. You may not own a financial interest in any company, enterprise or industry about which you write.
    6. You may not buy or sell stocks or other securities with knowledge of a story that might affect their price, or while in possession of other nonpublic information; nor can you pass that information along to others who engage in stock transactions.
    7. You may not engage in openly partisan or political behavior or expressions of opinion on contentious public issues, being mindful that positions you express publicly may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news.

A full statement of AP’s News Values and Principles and Conflicts of Interest can be found at:  

AP may change its News Values and Principles and Conflicts of Interest policy from time to time, so please review it periodically for any updates.