WTOP: Our News Philosophy

WTOP: Our News Philosophy

At WTOP News, we work to deliver news that matters to the D.C. area in an unbiased, objective and accurate way. Part of that effort is to be transparent about how we make decisions as a news organization. We hope the information provided below helps you understand the principles by which WTOP operates.

WTOP’s Mission and Vision Statements

WTOP’s Mission Statement:
Deliver high-quality, unbiased news that shapes our region and connects our community across all media platforms.

WTOP’s Vision Statement:
To be the No. 1 news choice for our Washington, D.C., region by offering continuously updated coverage of Top News – 24/7/365.

How do we choose the news and topics we cover?

Our news management team meets every day to discuss what stories we plan to have our reporters and digital team cover. That plan evolves as news breaks and changes throughout the day.

Our news team, comprised of more than 100 journalists, is constantly mining the region for stories, listening to stakeholders and members of the community, challenging authority and communicating with sources. It’s this type of reporting and truth seeking that leads to many of the stories we produce.

When we choose to cover a story, WTOP thinks about its impact on our audience – whether we can inform our audience of something they didn’t know before, whether we can highlight an issue that needs attention, and, in some cases, whether we can entertain. WTOP News is a 24/7 news organization, and our newsroom is staffed 365 days a year. We are always working to bring you the top news of the day that matters to you.

We try to report on stories that are representative of the entire WTOP audience and speak to the different interests, issues and challenges being faced around the region. WTOP’s reporters and web team members have areas of expertise to ensure we are covering issues/topics in every county around the region to dive deeper for stories that matter.

WTOP’s local coverage area includes:

  • DC
  • Maryland: Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Frederick, Charles and Calvert counties. WTOP will occasionally cover stories in St. Mary’s, Howard, Baltimore and Carroll counties.
  • Virginia: Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties, as well as Alexandria. WTOP will occasionally cover stories in Fauquier, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Culpeper and Rappahannock counties.

WTOP reports on national and international stories as well. We work tirelessly to give the listeners, readers and social media followers the top news stories of the day – whether it’s across the ocean or in your backyard.

WTOP’s goal is always to provide the facts through our reporting — not share our opinions. We promise to ask tough questions and relentlessly pursue the truth.

Do you have thoughts about how we are doing or have a comment about our coverage? Visit our Contact Us page and leave a message. These messages are automatically forwarded to our entire news management team. We try to respond quickly to concerns about accuracy, and are willing to explain our ethical and editorial choices as well as our journalistic processes.

Some of our best stories come from listeners and readers. You can submit a story idea here.

When and how will readers and listeners be alerted to breaking news?

WTOP’s goal is to alert our listeners, readers and social media followers to the top news stories of the day. This includes alerts about emergencies and events that threaten lives, health, safety and/or property. WTOP’s goal is to be the first to bring you the news, but never at the expense of accuracy.

You can hear breaking news and developments as they happen on WTOP News. You can hear our broadcast on 103.5FM, 103.9FM and 107.7FM in the D.C. region. You can also listen to our live 24/7 news programming on the WTOP app, WTOP.com and on smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home. Just say, “Alexa, open WTOP” or “Hey Google, play WTOP.” Subscribe to WTOP’s email news alerts here. You can also get breaking news notifications on your Apple or Android device through the WTOP app.

How do we make updates/clarifications to stories?

There are times when stories on WTOP and WTOP.com need to be updated, corrected or clarified. We take that seriously. On WTOP radio, you will sometimes hear an anchor mention a correction or clarification to a previously reported story. There is no specific time those are read – instead, we try to correct the record in as timely a manner as possible. These updates may be in regards to a WTOP report or from one of WTOP’s news partners.

On WTOP.com, we include editor’s notes explaining any changes, corrections or clarifications that have been made to a story.

On X, should WTOP publish a post that contains a factual error, our SOP is to delete that post and issue a new post indicating that a correction has been made. Posts on X cannot be edited once they are published and tend to get traction long after they are posted which often means searches may surface with the incorrect post more often than the correct post.

To propose a correction or clarification about a WTOP report, fill out the form on the Contact Us page.

What role do advertisers play in our story selection and editorial process?

Advertisers have no impact on our editorial decisions. Our news team is committed to editorial independence and objectivity.

WTOP News is an ad-supported business, and the advertisements you hear on WTOP and see on WTOP.com help fund the work we do.

WTOP’s sales team works with thousands of local and national businesses to fill all the commercial ad units available on WTOP and WTOP.com. Our sales team works directly with about half of our advertisers to help write and produce their commercials; the remaining advertisers come to us through ad agencies.

From time to time, a listener may object to a commercial. We review those concerns and take each one seriously. Questions and comments can be submitted here.

See WTOP’s Advertising page to contact our sales department or get more information about advertising with WTOP.


Learn more about WTOP on our About Us page.

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