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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Root River Current?

Root River Current is an online eMagazine serving the greater Root River valley area of Southeast Minnesota through written, audio, and visual media. Root River Current is published by Root River Current, Inc., a Minnesota nonprofit corporation, registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As with others in the growing movement of nonprofit media in the U.S., Root River Current, Inc. is funded by individual donations, memberships, business sponsorships, and foundation grants, and is not dependent on the model of paid subscription or advertising.

Why is this online magazine needed?

Root River Current exists to fill a void of untold or under-told stories that are not typically told by traditional media. We are creating a community of storytellers who document the people, culture, and history of our region and make it available to our audience free, online.

How does Root River Current function?

RootRiverCurrent.org is the home of this community eMagazine. Articles, stories, creative writing, photos, podcasts and more from local writers and journalists covering arts & culture, nature, in-depth news stories, and other topics of local interest are uploaded to Root River Current’s website on an ongoing basis. Additionally, we publish an eNewsletter, emailed to subscribers, free of charge, every two weeks featuring recent postings to the website. You can subscribe here.

Root River Current is managed by a volunteer board of directors; an editorial review board oversees content.

How is Root River Current funded?

As an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Root River Current, Inc., relies on the support of readers, business and corporate sponsors, and foundation grants to sustain our local journalism. These partners’ support help us provide reliable and quality news and features coverage for a diverse generation of readers looking for the kind of content not provided by other area news organizations.

We thank our financial supporters — including major donors listed below by total contributions amount since launch — who make our work possible. These partners help Root River Current, Inc., to produce a different kind of journalism for our community with stories often uncovered by other media.

Root River Current, Inc., is grateful to everyone who supports our work.

DONOR TRANSPARENCY

We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization.

Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services, or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals, organizations, and foundations to help with our general operations, coverage of specific topics, and special projects. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. We do not give supporters the rights to assign, review or edit content.

We will make public all donors who give $5,000 or more per year. As a nonprofit, we will avoid accepting donations from anonymous sources, and we will not accept donations from government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates actively seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, deemed by our board of directors, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.

DONOR LIST 2022/2023

Root River Current, Inc., is grateful to the following individuals, foundations and businesses who have made our work possible in 2022/2023:

$15,000 in 2022; $10,000 in 2023 from the SigAvis ShermAnna Foundation.

$5,000 for 2023-24 from the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.

IRS financial statements

Root River Current is exempt from filing the standard IRS Form 990, instead filing a 990N e-Postcard (this is granted to small tax-exempt organizations with annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less). Our tax identification number is 88-1387698.

Contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Yes, Root River Current has an Editorial Policy and adheres to a Code of Ethics.

Root River Current subscribes to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News:

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services, or opinions.

We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

Our organization may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

Our organization will make public all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization and in compliance with Root River Current, Inc. Membership Standards.

Policy on correcting errors

We strive to be accurate and complete in the content we publish and to be promptly responsive in correcting errors in material published on our digital platforms. Individual stories may evolve with time, so we will make every effort to keep them accurate and timely.

For text corrections on online stories, we overwrite the previous version; we send separate corrective stories online as warranted. For photos, we will overwrite captions with corrections and reload the photo with a corrected caption.

We believe it is unnecessary to put notes on stories stating that a story has been updated unless there is a particular reason to note the addition of new information or another change; at our discretion, however, we will post a “correction”, “clarification” or “editor’s note” to inform readers whenever we correct a significant mistake.

Please notify the editor@rootrivercurrent.org if incorrect information is posted.

 

Root River Current follows the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics

 

Preamble

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair, and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

Seek truth and report it

Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting, and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

  • Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
  • Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
  • Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing, or summarizing a story.
  • Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
  • Be cautious when making promises but keep the promises they make.
  • Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
  • Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution, or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.
  • Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
  • Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
  • Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
  • Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
  • Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
  • Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
  • Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
  • Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
  • Label advocacy and commentary.
  • Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
  • Never plagiarize. Always attribute.
Minimize harm

Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues, and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:

  • Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
  • Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
  • Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.
  • Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence, or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.
  • Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
  • Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
  • Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.
Act independently

The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.

Journalists should:

  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
  • Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality or may damage credibility.
  • Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
  • Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors, or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
  • Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.
Be accountable and transparent

Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.

Journalists should:

  • Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
  • Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
  • Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
  • Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.
  • Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

Yes, Root River Current follows a Conflict of Interest Policy.

ROOT RIVER CURRENT, INC. CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY
Article I

Purpose

The purpose of the ‘conflict of interest’ policy is to protect this tax-exempt organization’s (Organization) interest when it is contemplating entering into a transaction or arrangement that might benefit the private interest of an officer or director of the Organization or might result in a possible excess benefit transaction. This policy is intended to supplement but not replace any applicable state and federal laws governing conflict of interest applicable to nonprofit and charitable organizations.

Article II

Definitions

  1. Interested Person

Any director, principal officer, or member of a committee with governing board delegated powers, who has a direct or indirect financial interest, as defined below, is an interested person.

  1. Financial Interest

A person has a financial interest if the person has, directly or indirectly, through business, investment, or family:

  • An ownership or investment interest in any entity with which the Organization has a transaction or arrangement,
  • A compensation arrangement with the Organization or with any entity or individual with which the Organization has a transaction or arrangement, or
  • A potential ownership or investment interest in, or compensation arrangement with, any entity or individual with which the Organization is negotiating a transaction or arrangement. Compensation includes direct and indirect remuneration as well as gifts or favors that are not insubstantial. A financial interest is not necessarily a conflict of interest. Under Article III, Section 2, a person who has a financial interest may have a conflict of interest only if the appropriate governing board or committee decides that a conflict of interest exists.
Article III

Procedures

  1. Duty to Disclose

In connection with any actual or possible conflict of interest, an interested person must disclose the existence of the financial interest and be given the opportunity to disclose all material facts to the directors and members of committees with governing board delegated powers considering the proposed transaction or arrangement.

  1. Determining Whether a Conflict of Interest Exists

After disclosure of the financial interest and all material facts, and after any discussion with the interested person, he/she shall leave the governing board or committee meeting while the determination of a conflict of interest is discussed and voted upon. The remaining board or committee members shall decide if a conflict of interest exists.

  1. Procedures for Addressing the Conflict of Interest
  • An interested person may make a presentation at the governing board or committee meeting, but after the presentation, he/she shall leave the meeting during the discussion of, and the vote on, the transaction or arrangement involving the possible conflict of interest.
  • The chairperson of the governing board or committee shall, if appropriate, appoint a disinterested person or committee to investigate alternatives to the proposed transaction or arrangement.
  • After exercising due diligence, the governing board or committee shall determine whether the Organization can obtain with reasonable efforts a more advantageous transaction or arrangement from a person or entity that would not give rise to a conflict of interest.
  • If a more advantageous transaction or arrangement is not reasonably possible under circumstances not producing a conflict of interest, the governing board or committee shall determine by a majority vote of the disinterested directors whether the transaction or arrangement is in the Organization’s best interest, for its own benefit, and whether it is fair and reasonable. In conformity with the above determination it shall make its decision as to whether to enter into the transaction or arrangement.

4. Violations of the Conflicts of Interest Policy

  • If the governing board or committee has reasonable cause to believe a member has failed to disclose actual or possible conflicts of interest, it shall inform the member of the basis for such belief and afford the member an opportunity to explain the alleged failure to disclose.
  • If, after hearing the member’s response and after making further investigation as warranted by the circumstances, the governing board or committee determines the member has failed to disclose an actual or possible conflict of interest, it shall take appropriate disciplinary and corrective action.
Article IV

Records of Proceedings

The minutes of the governing board and all committees with board delegated powers shall contain:

  • The names of the persons who disclosed or otherwise were found to have a financial interest in connection with an actual or possible conflict of interest, the nature of the financial interest, any action taken to determine whether a conflict of interest was present, and the governing board’s or committee’s decision as to whether a conflict of interest in fact existed.
  • The names of the persons who were present for discussions and votes relating to the transaction or arrangement, the content of the discussion, including any alternatives to the proposed transaction or arrangement, and a record of any votes taken in connection with the proceedings.
Article V

Compensation

  • A voting member of the governing board who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the Organization for services is precluded from voting on matters pertaining to that member’s compensation.
  • A voting member of any committee whose jurisdiction includes compensation matters and who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the Organization for services is precluded from voting on matters pertaining to that member’s compensation.
  • No voting member of the governing board or any committee whose jurisdiction includes compensation matters and who receives compensation, directly or indirectly, from the Organization, either individually or collectively, is prohibited from providing information to any committee regarding compensation.
Article VI

Annual Statements

Each director, principal officer, and member of a committee with governing board delegated powers shall annually sign a statement which affirms such person:

  • Has received a copy of the conflicts of interest policy,
  • Has read and understands the policy,
  • Has agreed to comply with the policy, and
  • Understands the Organization is charitable and in order to maintain its federal tax exemption it must engage primarily in activities which accomplish one or more of its tax-exempt purposes.
Article VII

Periodic Reviews

To ensure the Organization operates in a manner consistent with charitable purposes and does not engage in activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status, periodic reviews shall be conducted. The periodic reviews shall, at a minimum, include the following subjects:

  • Whether compensation arrangements and benefits are reasonable, based on competent survey information, and the result of arm’s length bargaining.
  • Whether partnerships, joint ventures, and arrangements with management organizations conform to the Organization’s written policies, are properly recorded, reflect reasonable investment or payments for goods and services, further charitable purposes and do not result in inurement, impermissible private benefit or in an excess benefit transaction.
Article VIII

Use of Outside Experts

When conducting the periodic reviews as provided for in Article VII, the Organization may, but need not, use outside advisors. If outside experts are used, their use shall not relieve the governing board of its responsibility for ensuring periodic reviews are conducted.

Content Disclaimer

Views, thoughts, or opinions expressed in any articles, stories or creative content published by Root River Current belong solely to the authors, and do not necessarily represent those of Root River Current, Inc., its Board of Directors, other groups, or individuals affiliated with Root River Current.