I am proud to have a multi-faceted, never boring portfolio career. This means that on a given day, I might be reporting a story for a traditional news outlet or a book project in the morning, advising a non-profit organization on their social media strategy or coaching a professor on writing an op-ed in the afternoon, and giving a keynote speech at a university at night.
As I shift in and out of these different roles, it’s imperative that I remain mindful of my own integrity and the ethical expectations of the various fields within which I am lucky enough to work. As such, I never write news or features stories about an organization that I have received funding from or offer probono consulting services to, whether informally or through a formal board. If I do mention an organization that I’ve had some financial or advisory relationship with out of necessity, I disclose the nature of the relationship within the context of the article. Likewise, whenever possible, I avoid reporting or writing on entities which also fund my journalistic work. If I am compelled to write about an organization which receives funding from the same entity which has also funded my work in order to represent reality accurately or honor the larger truth of the story, I disclose the simultaneity. I am in constant dialogue with my mentors, advisers, collaborators, and editorial contacts about these issues.
Of note: I believe that as portfolio careers like mine become more and more common (nearly half of the workforce will be made up of temps, freelancers, contractors and the like–by 2020), it becomes increasingly important to approach professional ethics in a complex, transparent way. I try to model this through my work and am always eager to learn from others who are doing the same. Please contact me with suggestions or examples of how you are thinking about ethics within a portfolio career.