U.S. News & World Report Editorial Guidelines
U.S. News & World Report is a media company dedicated to helping citizens, consumers, business leaders and policy officials make important decisions. We publish independent reporting, rankings, data journalism and advice that has earned the trust of our readers and users over our nearly 90-year history.
U.S. News' journalism provides its users and readers with in-depth information to assist them in making decisions on a wide range of topics, namely: Education, Health, Money, News, Cars, Travel and 360 Reviews. Except where we specifically discuss a particular topic, the following editorial guidelines apply to all of the above forms of our journalistic endeavors.
We seek to empower our users and readers and support their decision making, but our information is not a substitute for professional advice. We encourage users and readers to consult relevant professionals before making their decisions.
U.S. News operates in the public interest and is editorially independent in its reporting. Since our founding in 1933, U.S. News has espoused the values of ethical journalism, to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. As such, all our content and our practices are guided by the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics.
Transparency is a crucial element of ethical and objective journalism. It means openness about the sources we use, such as direct links to original research papers and to reputable and independent organizations that aggregate data. It also means transparency about who is writing the content. All authors are clearly identified at the top of each article, with expanded biographies that include their experiences, expertise and affiliations.
Conflicts of Interest (Perceived and Real)
To secure the public's trust, our primary allegiance is to the public. Any personal or professional interests that conflict with that allegiance, whether in appearance or in reality, risk compromising our credibility. This means that we do not let our financial interests determine the topics we cover, and we do not rank any institutions or products based on any type of financial relationship with an advertiser. Our reporters, editors, freelancers and producers cover issues that are newsworthy and of interest to our readers, not because an issue may be of interest to advertisers.
Verification and Fact Checking
Stories written by U.S. News staff and freelancers are edited by multiple editors. Reporters are expected to be accurate and provide backup and contact information for their sources. Editors fact check and flag any questions they have for their writers before publishing (see Corrections Policy and Procedure for more information).
Corrections Policy and Procedure
We aim to correct errors promptly. Writers investigate and verify alleged errors, which are then reviewed by our editorial team. Once we approve a correction, we post it at the end of an article or in the first slide of a slideshow. We also make clarifications to articles and slideshows based on our editorial team's discretion.
Corrections and clarifications are updated in our archives, on our website and are issued to licensees who may have republished the work.
When we update older stories with new information, we note that the story has been updated as well as when it was updated. We occasionally remove old content from the website or redirect some stories to more recent articles. If our editorial team determines a piece requires updating, it may no longer exist in search engines or on U.S. News' website, or it may be redirected to a newer piece.
Staffers, freelancers and bloggers are all held to the same ethical and editorial standards.
The Health team at U.S. News delivers accurate information about health, nutrition and fitness, as well as in-depth ratings, advice on health-related consumer products and medical condition guides. Health journalism has broad implications. The public turns to news organizations for vital health information. We are aware that what we write affects the public’s knowledge of health issues, and their attitudes and behaviors toward medical tests, treatments and diet. As such, it is crucial that our coverage provides accurate information about the benefits, harms and costs of medical tests and treatments, as well as alternatives that might reduce or eliminate the need for treatment. It also means debunking dubious myths and health claims when they begin to spread.
Readers and users should always consult physicians or other medical service providers before making a medical decision, and should not avoid seeking professional advice based on the information contained in our health content.
U.S. News Health strives to rise above the hype of the latest health fad or miracle treatment. A responsible health story not only delivers the facts but also puts them into broader context. As reporters and editors, we look at the peer-reviewed evidence and help readers understand the significance of the new information. We evaluate its scientific validity. In other words, we take a rigorous look at the existing research.
We support evidence- and science-based medicine that is peer-reviewed; the use of clear and jargon-free language to accurately communicate science and medicine to the general public; and the use of objectivity and diligent research in pursuit of accurate and unbiased reporting.
In cases where the science is not clear-cut, we offer guidelines from experts in the medical field – rather than a simplified list of do’s and don’ts.
Our stories rely on multiple, independent sources and experts in the field, such as medical doctors and licensed nutritionists. Our stories identify the sources used, their professional affiliation and their credentials. In addition, our stories go through a rigorous medical review process.
Our Best Diets rankings are based on ratings by a panel of nationally recognized experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease. Editors carefully vet each panelist, and all experts involved in the project participate in a thorough conflict of interest process each year. Experts do not score any diet with which they have a real or perceived conflict.
In addition, for each of the annual Health rankings and directories – including Best Children’s Hospitals, Best Hospitals, Best Nursing Homes, Best Insurance Companies for Medicare and the U.S. News Doctor Finder directory – we publish detailed methodologies and frequently asked questions that explain how each edition is calculated and compiled. Announcements and updates related to each ranking and directory launch are also published in the Second Opinion blog, written by our in-house team of experienced data analysts.
When primary research studies and journals are cited and the study is available publicly a link is included in the article. If we know a researcher or study is funded by a vested interest – such as a pharmaceutical company – that information is disclosed. In addition, efforts are made to find alternative, independent sources/studies to corroborate the findings. We strive to regularly review and update our content to reflect the latest advances in clinical trials, medical research and statistics.
U.S. News Money strives to help people make informed decisions about their finances in the areas of personal finance, retirement, real estate, careers and investing. Our advice-oriented coverage is neutral, nonpartisan and aims to help readers understand complex financial issues that affect their lives. We are committed to accurate and unbiased reporting backed by research and utilizing the most current data available.
In our coverage of personal finance, investing, retirement, careers and real estate, a team of professional journalists and outside financial experts use objective reporting and, when appropriate, interviews with financial advisors, accountants, real estate agents and other experts to provide unbiased actionable advice.
When covering investing, we rely on independent sources, data and experts in our mission to help investors make more informed decisions about their portfolios. We may cover stories for a specific audience, such as retirees or first-time investors, but we do not offer individualized investment advice. Readers and users should always consult financial advisors before making a personal finance decision.
Our Money blogs, which include On Careers, Pocket Listing and Smarter Investor, feature expert insight and unbiased advice from authors, tax accountants, real estate agents, financial planners, financial advisors and other professionals that is held to the same standards as our staff-written articles. Articles by Smarter Investor contributors, when appropriate, also include a disclosure detailing stocks or equities that they or their companies hold.
Our consumer rankings and ratings of Best Jobs, Best Places to Retire, Best Places to Live, Best Credit Cards, Best Loans, Best Mutual Funds, Best Brokers, Best Stocks and Best ETFs are backed by in-depth research and analysis from trusted sources, and published detailed methodologies explain how each ranking and/or rating is calculated.
The News team at U.S. News is honest and transparent in reporting and presenting the news, including providing context, balance, fairness and a diversity of sources. We take into account the communities in which we report, whether at a national, local or global level. We insist on the same level of accuracy in news articles and commentaries, whether produced by our own staff, freelancers or guest contributors.
The News section uses data in an appropriate and balanced way, making sure the data we use is as current as possible and consistent when used for the purpose of comparison. We identify our data sources and provide transparent methodology when data is used to produce rankings or other types of lists.
We treat information from unofficial sources as unverified and seek to corroborate it.
We provide journalism that serves the public interest and shines a light on governmental institutions, reporting on public and private institutions that serve the public, including but not limited to governments, nonprofits, corporations, health care providers, educational institutions and private entities working on behalf of such institutions. We are committed to providing an understanding of complex issues that affect the lives of everyday citizens.
We are neutral and nonpartisan in our reporting; we do not endorse or financially support political candidates.
We do not alter photos or other visual formats in any way that could mislead or misrepresent the news.
U.S. News Education produces editorial content that helps prospective students and families research, apply to, pay for and thrive at school – from K-12 and community colleges to four-year colleges and universities, graduate schools and online degree programs. We know that education is a crucial but often costly investment, and our mission is to help both U.S. and international readers navigate this important life decision.
While our Education section does not cover breaking news or education policy, our content explores education trends, dispels myths and contains actionable advice for readers looking to make informed choices. Topics covered include college, graduate school and online program admissions; test prep; paying for higher education; and international students; and advice for parents of K-12 students. We take steps to ensure that every piece – whether an article, blog, slideshow, infographic or data-driven content – is neutral, nonpartisan and accurate.
Our team of in-house and external professional journalists conduct unbiased, objective reporting, during which they interview multiple experts such as college and university admissions officials around the country and abroad; high school counselors at public and private schools; and independent education consultants who are members of national organizations.
Our reporters and editors avoid using academic jargon so that our content is clear and understandable for students and parents. For any content that uses data, whether based on data collected via U.S. News statistical surveys or from external reports, the Education team fact-checks numbers to ensure accuracy.
The U.S. News Education team also recruits bloggers who are experts in their respective fields to write our College Admissions Playbook, Law Admissions Lowdown, Medical School Admissions Doctor and Student Loan Ranger blogs. These blogs are held to the same high standards as our staff-written content, including ensuring that our contributors maintain credibility with our audience by providing advice rather than self-promotion.
In addition, for each of the annual Education rankings and directories – Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools, Best Online Programs, Best Global Universities, Best High Schools, Best K-8 Public Schools and the U.S. News Community College Directory – we publish detailed methodologies and frequently asked questions that explain how each edition is calculated and compiled. Announcements and updates related to each ranking and directory launch are also published in the Morse Code: Inside the College Rankings blog, written by our in-house team of experienced data analysts.
U.S. News believes that its education information provides readers with a good start to understand the issues surrounding choosing a public or private K-12 school, college, graduate school or other educational option; however, decisions regarding these options should be made in conjunction with college and financial advisors.
The Travel team at U.S. News helps people find and book the best vacation for them. Travelers can determine where they'd like to go with our vacation rankings and in-depth travel guide content, which includes background on the destination, how to save money, the best times to visit, the best hotels and the top things to do. When you visit U.S. News Travel, you can trust that our editors have gathered tips and valuable information from previous travelers, locals, tourism boards, industry publications, hotels and cruise lines, and summarized everything in an easy-to-digest format.
U.S. News Travel rankings incorporate a combination of editor insight, expert data and, in many cases, traveler reviews.
Our features articles and slideshows rely on expert sources and are researched, fact-checked and edited thoroughly. We work with a seasoned group of freelancers who have a proven history and expertise in covering the travel industry.
U.S. News Travel takes an unbiased approach to product recommendations and reviews.
Our editorial team does not accept free press trips, flights, cruises, hotel stays or products in exchange for coverage. On occasion, our editors will accept a media rate for a stay at a hotel that is part of our rankings to tour the property and to better learn about the hotel, its amenities and its service. These stays are paid for by U.S. News and the information is used to update hotel reviews with relevant and accurate content. Readers can trust that our editorial team is providing thoroughly researched, unbiased reviews across our site.
We regularly review and update our content to reflect the latest travel trends and to include the most accurate information on various destinations, attractions, tours, hotels, hotel brands, cruise lines, cruise ships, and hotel and airline rewards programs.
The mission of the Cars team at U.S. News is to help our users find the right car, get the best deal, navigate the car-buying process with confidence and have a positive experience owning their car.
We recognize that buying a car is a major investment and can be an intimidating process, so we inform our users with unbiased, data-driven reviews and advice content. Knowing that the wrong car can have a significant impact on someone’s quality of life and that overpaying for a car, auto loan or car insurance can cost a consumer thousands of dollars, our goal is to protect our users from potential car-buying pitfalls and help them have a smooth, worry-free ownership experience.
Our new and used car rankings are not driven by our own opinions and tests. Rather, our independent research team collects and analyzes published and credible reviews of a given model. That analysis is combined with safety and reliability data from the top sources in the industry to create our car rankings. The reviews on our site are based solely on the rankings.
Our features content is based largely on our car rankings, but also includes new model news, new- and used-car deals, as well as car buying and ownership advice. Features content uses multiple sources or official sources where appropriate, and we give buying and ownership advice with the goal of educating our users and saving them money in the long term. Content on the Cars site goes through three layers of editing: fact check, line edit and final edit.
For our Best Car Insurance rankings, we complete an annual survey on our sites of roughly 2,500 users who have filed a car insurance claim within the last five years. Our Cheapest Car Insurance Rankings are based on data from Quadrant Information Services, a leading supplier of insurance data.
Automotive journalism and car reviews are unique in that car companies often pay for journalists to attend vehicle launches in luxurious or exotic locations, and present the journalists with gifts or memorabilia. These relationships can lead to impropriety, both in practice and appearance. At U.S. News, our editorial team does not accept travel or gifts more than $25 in value from automakers or any other potential source. If a member of our team attends a vehicle launch, we foot the bill.
Our editorial team will accept vehicle loans from car manufacturers to better learn about their products and to inform our users. These loans are tightly controlled, never last for more than a week and do not occur when the editor is on leave or traveling. Our editors may not request vehicles for personal use.
The 360 Reviews team at U.S. News seeks to give readers the complete picture when it comes to purchasing key goods and services. We evaluate each product or service from multiple perspectives and make recommendations based on an assessment of what matters to consumers, experts and the community of professional reviewers. Creating in-depth guides for both consumers and businesses, our goal is to empower consumers with the information and tools needed to make their own informed decisions.
Each 360 review brings in consumer and expert data and opinion to inform our reviews and rankings. We work with a diverse group of expert freelancers for each product and service we cover, and those freelancers use expert or official sources to give consumers clear, actionable advice.
The 360 content goes through two levels of editing before publication and is updated as new data becomes available or as new products come to market. Some content is further reviewed by members of our expert panel. We carefully vet each expert reviewer.
Our freelancers, editors and expert reviewers do not take samples, gifts or loans of products or services we review.
Advertising is an integral part of our business at U.S. News & World Report. Advertising revenue helps to support free access to our content and rankings and allows reputable businesses to appeal to our audience. That said, we understand the importance of integrating advertising on our site in a way that will not interfere with your experience as a user.
We take our editorial integrity very seriously and have strict separation between advertising and editorial content. Editorial content and U.S. News rankings products are never influenced by advertisers.
We may make a commission when users on our site click a link to purchase or get more information about a product. However, we provide these tools for the convenience of our users and they in no way affect our editorial independence. The development and placement of these tools is driven by teams outside of the editorial staff.
- All advertising on U.S. News is distinguished from editorial content through borders or other elements and/or identified as an ad, advertisement, sponsored or a similar designation such as an advertiser logo.
- U.S. News does not allow advertising that includes but is not limited to:
- Tobacco products
- Illegal or recreational drugs
- Adult products or services
- Adult content
Sponsored Content [BrandFuse]
U.S. News' BrandFuse content program provides advertisers with the opportunity to present readers with articles and other content produced by or on behalf of those advertisers.
U.S. News prominently displays a disclaimer on all BrandFuse content indicating that the content was either created by an advertiser or by the BrandFuse Marketing Team and did not involve the U.S. News' editorial staff.
BrandFuse content does not reflect the views of U.S. News, nor does it represent an endorsement of a product or viewpoint by U.S. News.
U.S. News accepts that BrandFuse content may reflect viewpoints other than those reflected in its own editorial content. However, U.S. News will not publish content that is false, misleading, illegal or would undermine the reputation or editorial integrity of U.S. News.
Any advertisements on U.S. News for sponsored content are labeled as “BrandFuse” and designated as ad content.
Awards and Accolades
The U.S. News logo is our intellectual property and symbolizes the quality of our journalism.
Highly ranked schools, hospitals or other programs, as well as reviewed products, may for a fee license a "U.S. News-ranked" badge on their websites, advertisements or promotional materials.
Badge eligibility is strictly an editorial decision. The journalists who create the rankings or ratings use methodologies that honor those organizations and products that are worthy of a U.S. News recommendation.
The license of a "U.S. News-ranked" badge by an institution does not affect whether or not that institution is ranked either currently or in the future. Journalists who participate in creating rankings or ratings are not involved in the licensing of the badges for those rankings or ratings.