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Editorial Code of Ethics and Professionalism
Editorial Code of Ethics and Professionalism
01. Duty of the Gleaner Newspaper
02. Who is covered by this Policy
06. Identification of members of the Gleaner Company
08. Guidelines to deliver the 'Reader Experience'
10. Visual Accuracy
12. Cooperation with authorities
17. Crime reporting
22. Wire policy
24. Racial and ethnic identification
28. Confidential information and intellectual property
A great newspaper is distinguished by the balance, fairness and authority of its reporting and editing. The Gleaner takes seriously its job as the nation's watchdog, provider of news, conscience and forum and we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards. While the primary way in which we serve our readers is through our editorial products, it is no less incumbent that we hold ourselves to the highest ethical and legal principles. We strive to uphold these principles as we go about our journalistic endeavour.
1. THE DUTY OF GLEANER NEWSPAPERS
The fate of newspapers lies in the hands of the public. The freedom enjoyed by journalists to report and to comment is, and should be seen as a precious gift from the public.
Our duty, therefore, is clear: It is to serve the public with dedication and character, and to exercise freedoms with passion and responsibility.
We are committed to maintaining a tradition of excellence for our newspapers. To do this, we must be aggressive in publishing the news. The independence of our editors, reporters and photographers is not for sale. No territory of legitimate public interest is off limits to fair and competent reporting and comment.
We are a firm believer and supporter in freedom of the press, freedom of expression. Freedom makes a place for excellence. That place must be filled with professional discipline, with respect for the public we serve, and with a keen sense of fairness to all individuals.
We must always strive to:
"Get it first and get it right."
In other words, let our rule be:
"Get it right, first."
When mistakes occur, we should correct them promptly and forthrightly. Excellence cannot flourish without criticism. We need criticism and should seek it.
The first priority of The Gleaner newspapers is to present a faithful and accurate picture of Jamaican life. This requires detailed coverage of local events, institutions and people's activities.
Problems are at the core of news, but they are not all of the news. Even against the tide of modern life, people and institutions make progress. We should be generous in coverage of achievement; our pages should reflect the grit, devotion and durability of the human, and in particular, the Jamaican spirit. While exposure of wrongdoing is a proper function and on occasion a required function of newspapers, it is not the main purpose. Corruption and conflicts of interest, in most communities, have little to do with the important things that are not working. Most of our communities' failures are rooted in complex problems. A truly excellent newspaper will spend most of its investigative skills on explaining those circumstances in the hope of helping to forge solutions.
A great newspaper is distinguished by the balance, fairness and authority of its reporting and editing. Such a newspaper searches as hard for strengths and accomplishments as for weakness and failure. The great newspaper will, by honest and intelligent journalism, inspire people to do better. We will inspire our Nation.
2. WHO IS COVERED BY THIS POLICY?
Staff Members: The Ethics Policy applies to all Editorial employees, full and part time.
Freelancers/Columnists: As independent contractors, freelance contributors should be encouraged to adhere to the Ethics Policy; however, supervising Editors will judge freelance work based on the standards in The Gleaner's policy.
It is the freelancer's responsibility to inform Editors of potential conflicts such as a personal or business relationship with the subject of a story. If the Editor determines a conflict exists, the freelancer will be taken off an assignment, or the contribution refused.
The Gleaner strives to always be the nation's trusted source of news, information and commentary, with the expressed goal of helping people understand the many issues that touch their lives.
All our publications will be readable and interesting as we strive to provide our readers with the news and information they need to understand their world and improve their lives.
Publications of The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited include:
The Children's Own Magazine
The Sunday Gleaner
The Weekend Star
Outlook Sunday Magazine
The Gleaner's Youthlink
The Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica
Track & Pools
The Gleaner Archives Online
· The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited is a full-fledged communications company offering a variety of information-gathering and research capabilities through its family of newspapers, radio stations, and on-line service, www.Go-Jamaica.com.
· The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited is founded on a philosophy of individual enterprise exerted singly or in groups based on free and fair competition.
· We are driven by a vision of a country where access to opportunities is based on merit, equity and fair play.
· The Gleaner, The Sunday Gleaner, The Star and Weekend Star are national newspapers dedicated to public objectives.
· We believe in the traditional role of a free and responsible press serving the people by faithfully reporting the facts without fear or favour.
· We shall fairly reflect the aspirations, triumphs, success, pain, interests and culture of the Jamaican people.
· We will be generous in our coverage of achievements and our pages will reflect the grit, devotion and durability of the human spirit.
· While not affiliated to any political party or section of the community, we support the policies and actions of any group we believe to be serving the public interest.
· We believe the essential role of government is to maintain order and that government ought to create the climate for efficient and profitable expansion of business.
· Our role is to report and comment on the facts: to be the voice of reason; to champion the cause of a truly independent Jamaica; to help citizens in their exercise of freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship and association, and freedom from ignorance.
· We will vigorously support efforts to fight corruption and defend the principles of transparency and open government.
a. We are committed to seeking and reporting the truth
· We will dedicate ourselves to reporting news accurately, thoroughly and without bias or malice.
· We will be honest in the way we gather, report and present news.
· We will hold factual information in editorials to the same standards of accuracy as news stories.
· We will keep our content relevant and balanced, providing to our readers a broad spectrum of information and views.
b. We are committed to serving the public interest
· We will do our best to uphold the Constitution.
· We support Parliamentary democracy, including a multi-party system in which there are regular elections freely and fairly conducted.
· We will be vigilant watchdogs of government and other institutions that affect the public.
· We will support private business initiatives.
· We will provide the news and information that people need to function as effective citizens.
· We will lay the foundation for dialogue between the people and their government.
· We will seek solutions as well as expose problems.
· We will provide a forum for diverse views.
· We will reflect and encourage understanding of the diverse segments of our society.
· We will provide editorial and community leadership.
c. We are committed to staff development
· We will support and encourage and support exposure to diverse skill tasks within the journalistic spectrum
· We will provide appropriate training opportunities to our staff.
d. We are committed to fair play
· We will strive to include all sides relevant to a story and not exhibit bias in our news coverage.
· We will treat people with dignity, respect and compassion.
· We will respect the privacy of individuals and recognise that any intrusion has to be justified in the public interest.
· We will correct errors brought to our attention promptly.
· We will use unnamed sources as the sole basis for published information as a last resort; this must be discussed with supervising editor or Editor-in-Chief.
· We will always strive to be accessible to our readers.
e. We are committed to maintaining independence
· We will maintain an arm's length relationship with anyone seeking to manipulate our news coverage.
· We will avoid potential conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
f. We are committed to acting with integrity
· We will act honourably and ethically in dealing with news sources, the public and our colleagues.
· Bribes are unacceptable.
· We will not publish material that encourages discrimination, ridicule, prejudice or hatred.
· We will strive to uphold the law at all times.
6. IDENTIFICATION OF MEMBERS OF THE GLEANER COMPANY (MEDIA) LIMITED
· Members of The Gleaner are required to wear their identification badges at all time that they are on the Gleaner premises or on assignments.
· All visitors, including friends of staff, must wear Customer ID badges whilst on the Company's premises.
· Visitors are not permitted without prior permission into the Editorial office and should be met in the lobby on the ground floor or, in the fourth floor lobby.
"The first priority of Gleaner newspapers is to present a faithful and accurate picture of the life of communities”
We will protect our credibility with a vigorous commitment to accuracy. We will remedy, in a timely manner, all errors of fact with a correction or clarification. If a staff member becomes aware of an error in his own or others' published work, the staff member has a responsibility to notify an Editor or the Editor-in-Chief as soon as possible.
b. Procedure for dealing with complaints
The Editors of publications should field complaints from members of the public. These complaints should be examined and referred to the Editor-in-Chief with recommendations from the respective Editors within one week. Where necessary, the Editor will refer complaints to the Legal Advisor.
We will regularly publish notices to inform readers how to communicate complaints.
It will be the duty or supervising editor's responsibility to obtain a statement from the reporter to see whether the story published was accurate or not.
If a correction to the story is required, the Editor-in-Chief, the Legal Advisor or their nominees will contact the offended party to discuss the matter, and wherever possible, make a correction as quickly as possible. The correction should
, whenever possible, appear in the same publication or section as the offending article or column.
c. Correction & Clarification
The Editor-in-Chief will be responsible for ensuring that the correction is affixed to the original story in
(i) the bound library newspaper file
(ii) in the editorial computer database
(iii) online and radio
(iv) anywhere else that is required
· The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for ensuring that the same story containing the incorrect information is:
· Withdrawn from any other Gleaner publication not yet printed, in particular, the three overseas newspapers and the Children's Own, Youthlink,etc.
· If a correction cannot be agreed with the offended party, then the matter must be brought to the attention of the Legal Advisor.
· It is the Editor-in-Chief's responsibility to ensure that the evidence held by the Gleaner Company (Media) Limited, including reporter's handbooks and tapes, are retained and safeguarded in case a court action arises.
In every such event, a written note will be prepared by the Editor-in-Chief giving the relevant information about the incident. Such briefs will be copied to the Legal Advisor.
d. Plagiarism and quotes
We do not use extended quotes from other sources without giving credit.
These quotes should reflect exactly what a source said.
If the source's grammar or language is unsuitable, paraphrase. .
When we paraphrase, we remain faithful to the original statement.
Quotes should fairly reflect the context of the conversation.
We will accurately and fairly reflect the diversity of gender, colour, ethnicity, class, generation, geography and other attributes that distinguish our communities.
This standard requires our staff to go beyond the usual contacts when seeking sources. The ideal is to have the Jamaica's diverse groups represented in whom we cite, regardless of the theme or topic being covered. The principle holds true for business, religion, education, consumer and political stories.
f. Writing techniques
In rare instances, a reporter may use imaginary characters or situations, but their fictitious nature must be immediately clear to the reader. This must also be first agreed with the Duty Editor or Editor-in-Chief. Other fiction writing techniques to avoid include:
· The telescoping of time so that, for example, events that actually happened during several days are reported as happening in a single day.
· Vivid descriptions of scenes that the writer could not have seen, unless supported by in-depth reporting.
· Passages conveying that the reporter knew what an individual was thinking or feeling without having been told.
On occasion, a fictional name may be used for a real person when there is good reason to believe that public identification would cause severe embarrassment or Â harm to that person. Readers should be informed of the fictional name.
8. GUIDELINES TO DELIVER "THE READER EXPERIENCE"
Apply these questions to each news story:
a. How is this story different from what's on the electronic media today?
b. What is in this story that the reader will not find in other media?
c. Does this story contain useful information, news that the reader can use?
d. Is this story one the reader will talk about tomorrow?
e. Is there any "go do" information in this story?
f. Is there something in this story that looks out for the reader's personal and civic interests?
g. Are there unanswered questions in this story?
h. Are there grammatical/spelling errors in this story?
i. Do you have a suggested headline?
j. Do I have information to provide graphics?
k. What are the possible photos to tie with this story?
a. Use of internet sources
· Verify all facts reported from an online site unless you are confident of its source. For instance, the official JIS website can be regarded as a reliable source for government news; a personal website may not be.
· If using a source via Internet or e-mail, verify the source by phone or in person. Make certain a communication is genuine before using it.
· Generally, credit photos and graphics downloaded from the Internet. Usually, generic mug shots and icons do not need credits.
b. Researching on the Internet
· Internet-derived information should be attributed, just as we would information from any book, magazine or other publication. Our prohibition against plagiarism applies to this information.
c. Linking to websites from a story
· Always review websites listed in stories. If you have concerns about including a site in a story because of inappropriate content, check with an Editor.
d. Internet Communication
· Use the same standards of representation as you would using the telephone or in person. Using deceptive methods to gain information, including the failure to reveal one's identity as a journalist while using a computer or the use of false identification to obtain access to computer systems, is corrosive to truth telling. Interviews via email should be labeled as such in stories (i.e. "he said during an e-mail interview.")
a. Documentary photo
This is a candid or unposed photo that records news, features or sports. The spirit of the documentary photo is to be honest and above board with readers. Any appearance or suspicion of manipulation of documentary photos strikes against our core values. Submitted photos should meet these same standards.
For questions about photo authenticity, check with an Editor.
Posing or re-enacting a documentary photograph is unacceptable. Altering a documentary photo is also unacceptable.
b. Portrait photo
This photo is usually posed and it should be obvious to the reader if it is. Portrait photos must not be altered.
c. Icon photos
This category is much like the photo illustration - Â almost anything goes. It includes simple photos that illustrate or label stories. Examples include photos of planes, ships, money, hockey sticks, hands, buildings, etc. Cut-out photos would be included in this. It is not necessary to credit these photos.
The use of file, or for that matter, any photo used out of context, can be libelous.
The use of file photos must be approved by the Editor-in-Chief, Duty Editor or Legal Advisor. Credits must be labeled as file. Caption text should be presented for approval at the same time as photo.
The juxtaposition of photographs and text on a page, particularly when not properly ruled off, can be libelous.
When in doubt, use common sense or check with an Editor. Shooting the photo usually is not the problem. Publishing the photo may be. Using sound judgment, the photographer should almost always shoot the picture. The editing process will determine whether the photo will be used. Some photos should be approved by the Editor.
Some red flags include pictures of:
· nudity or sexual content
· exaggerated grief
· blood or other body fluids
· photo is too good to be true (it may be set up)
· vulgar words or gestures (these may be hidden in a photo)
· cheap shot (zipper open, food on the face)
· unflattering expression not related to the event or situation
· people performing dangerous acts
· racial stereotypes
· photos that may otherwise shock or appall readers
· Is the photo appropriate to the story?
· Is the news value worth upsetting the reader?
· What are the paper's general standards of taste?
· Do you need to pass the photo through the top Editor?
· Does it pass the "breakfast table" test?
11. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
"The independence of our Editors, reporters and photographers is not for sale"
Staff members are encouraged to participate in professional, civic and cultural activities. To ensure that our credibility is not damaged, staff members have a special responsibility to avoid conflicts of interest or any activity that would compromise their journalistic integrity.
(I) Politics and social causes:
· Newsroom employees should not work for a political candidate or office-holder on a paid or voluntary basis. Participation in public demonstrations for political causes is forbidden.
· Taking a public stand on controversial social, religious or political issues should first be discussed with the Editor-in-Chief. This includes signing of petitions, either on paper or on-line.
· Holding public office or accepting political appointment is prohibited, unless specifically approved by the Editor or publisher.
· If a staff member has a close relative or friend working in a political campaign or organisation, the staffer should refrain from covering or making news judgments about that campaign or organisation. A loved one's activities can create a real or potential conflict for a staff member. In those cases, inform a supervisor and take steps to avoid conflicts.
· Donations to or memberships in organisations with political agendas should be carefully considered, and the Editor should be aware of this Staff members should use common sense when displaying bumper stickers, pins, badges and other signs.
(i) Civic activities:
· Membership in a social or civic organisation normally does not result in a conflict; however, staff members should not cover or make news decisions about groups they belong to. Such activities should be disclosed to a supervisor.
· Membership on boards of charitable or cultural organisations that are covered by our newspaper - must be approved by the Editor.
· It is inappropriate for staff members to appear publicly on behalf of a civic group or themselves. An exception can be made when an organisation's policy or action directly affects the employee. In this case, talk with your supervisor.
· Could your action, comments, donation or display cause people to reasonably doubt your objectivity or that of the newspaper?
· If an organisation identifies you as a supporter, volunteer or staff member - and also notes that you work for The Gleaner - would it appear as if the group has a connection with the newspaper?
· Could it be construed that the newspaper and its staff are giving special treatment to the group?
· Does your public role intersect with your work? If so, does your supervisor know about the potential conflict?
(i) Business conflicts:
Investments, loans or other outside business activities that could conflict with the newspaper's ability to report news must be avoided.
Use of inside knowledge for personal gain is prohibited. Staff members should not enter into a business relationship with news sources.
(ii) Gifts, favours, events:
* Employees must never become obligated to news sources, advertisers, suppliers or any person or organisation by receiving gifts or favours. Situations will arise that call for judgment. If you have any doubt, check with your supervisor or the Editor-in-Chief.
* Gifts and other items delivered to staff members must be recorded in a register kept by the department's administrator. Those valuing $3,000 or more will be returned, or donated to charity. Review copies of books, movies, computer software and music may be kept by the reviewer. When in doubt, discuss with your supervisor.
* Â Press passes are limited to those assigned to cover an event and other staff members with a clear journalistic purpose for attending. Supervisors will determine appropriate staffing. Extra passes should not be given to friends or family.
Invitations are sent to a large number of people in the Editorial Department by outside parties in the hope that members of the Editorial staff will cover events. All employees receiving invitations for any event must take these to their supervisor and request direction as to whether they are expected to file a story on the event.
· Do you have a clear journalistic purpose in using a press pass for an event? If you had to buy a ticket and obtain reimbursement, could you justify it as a company expense?
· If a source offers lunch or a cup of coffee, can you arrange to split the bill, or treat next time?
· In declining a gift, did you explain our policy to the gift-giver?
(iii) Special privileges:
· Company identification cards are not to be used for personal purposes, to gain admission to an event, to solicit favors or to avoid enforcement of a law.
· Employees also must not use their position on the newspaper staff in private business matters. Staff members should neither verbally invoke a position with the newspaper nor use company stationery or e-mail for such purposes.
· Newsroom employees should not use their Gleaner news sources to obtain tickets to entertainment events or other personal favours.
(iv) Family considerations:
We recognise that spouses and immediate family members have lives of their own to lead. However, when loved ones' activities might become newsworthy, employees are encouraged to make them aware of policies requiring us to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of one. Employees must inform their supervisors of personal relationships that may conflict with their job responsibilities.
Supervising Editors should not contract with a relative or close friend to work directly for them as a freelancer without approval of the Editor.
· Could a family member or the newspaper publicly disclose the situation without fear of embarrassment or legitimate criticism?
· Could it damage the newspaper's credibility?
Our goal is to write about the community, not ourselves. Staffers should avoid quoting, featuring or photographing their own family members and those of other Gleaner employees. The use of family members or relatives in photo illustrations is discouraged when the person is identifiable in the photo.
· Is this person an essential part of the story?
· Could the picture or quote just as logically come from another source?
(i) Campaign, government and political coverage:
· The Gleaner pays for travel, meals, lodging and other expenses for newsroom employees covering political campaigns, candidates and public officials.
(ii) Freelance, outside work:
We work for no one except The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited, without the express permission of the Editor.
· Freelance work for print or electronic media not in direct competition with The Gleaner may be permissible, as long as it does not constitute a conflict of interest or otherwise interfere with the performance of a staff member's job. Permission can more easily be granted when an article, photo or piece or artwork has been published or offered for publication first in our newspaper or on our Web site. Prior permission is required.
· Company resources, such as computers and cameras, should not be used in the pursuit of outside work.
(iii) Electronic appearances and blogs
· With the exception of www.Go-Jamaica.com, staff members should clear any request with the Editor for participation in a radio, internet or television programme or news broadcast. While on the air, staff members should demonstrate a high standard of impartiality, just as in our news pages. Opinions and speculation should be avoided. Generally, a staff member should not say anything on radio, TV or the Internet that could not appear under his or her byline in The Gleaner.
· The same principles of professionalism apply to blogs.
· Could your TV, Internet or other activities cause readers to reasonably doubt the newspaper's objectivity?
· If your blogging identity became known, could it embarrass you or the newspaper?
12. COOPERATION WITH AUTHORITIES
· Journalists are not required to turn over to any authorities their notes or film unless directed to do so by a court. If the staff member receives such a request, contact your Editor immediately.
· Staff members should avoid being confrontational or hostile in resisting an authority's demand for materials. If you are arrested solely because of your refusal to turn over material, the newspaper will be supportive and provide legal representation.
· During coverage of a news event, reporters and photographers often discuss basic information with law enforcement personnel, but journalists should not actively cooperate.
· It is our practice not to provide photographs, information or copies of published articles to attorneys in civil or criminal matters. Refer such requests to the public library, Gleaner Online archives or the Photography Department's reprint service.
· Staff members are forbidden from working for the Jamaica Constabulary Force or any other governmental intelligence or law enforcement agency. If you are approached, inform your supervisor.
We have a three-part test to determine whether we should turn over source material to a court.
· Can the material be obtained elsewhere? Is this the last resort?
· Is there a compelling public interest?
· Is the request relevant to the issue at hand?
"A great newspaper is distinguished by the balance, fairness and authority of its reporting and editing"
e. Fair play
In our commitment to fair play, we:
· Treat all sources the same, whether friendly or hostile. We evaluate all sources based on the newsworthiness of their information.
· Report all sides of a story. We are upfront with readers about what we don't know and about evidence that contradicts the main finding of a news story.
· Give people accused of wrongdoing a full and immediate opportunity to respond to all charges. We also report the final outcome of such allegations - for example, the verdict after an arrest.
· Do not make promises to sources about where, whether or when we will publish a story or photo.
· What if the person accused of wrongdoing in a story were your mother? Would you feel the story was fair?
· What if a learned journal wanted to interview you about the methods you used to get a story or photo? Would you be comfortable defending your conduct?
f. Potentially defamatory or controversial matters
Discuss with a supervisor or the Legal Advisor any story which may include potentially defamatory or controversial matters and those critical of persons and institutions in order to determine whether the story may be published.
Articles must be placed in the "Lawyer to vet folder" of Scoop Edit and the Legal Advisor must be notified that the article has been placed in the folder for review.
The article must not be published unless and until approved by the legal Advisor.
a. Prejudicial or pejorative reference to a person's race, colour, religion or gender must be avoided.
b. The publication of the details of a person's race, colour, religion or sexual orientation must be avoided unless critical to the story and in the public interest. We will particularly seek to avoid the publication of stories that may expose the subject to ridicule, hatred, public contempt or violence arising from that person's race, colour, religion or sexual orientation.
If a member of The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited's reporting staff is threatened in the course of carrying out his or her job, the matter should be reported immediately to his or her supervisor and Editor-in-Chief. Staffers should take all possible precautions whilst on assignment.
Material such as tapes, books and CDs which are supplied to the Gleaner for review are stored by our Information Systems Department where they will form part of the pool of reference material.
17. CRIME REPORTING
· We identify criminal suspects only after arrest warrants have been issued, they have been arrested or they have been formally charged. When we write about people accused of wrongdoing, we must provide them an opportunity to respond. That effort should include seeking comments from defense attorneys, family members and friends. The journalist's efforts must be included in article submitted for publication.
· As a rule, we do not name juvenile suspects. We do identify suspects 17 years of age or older who are charged with committing crimes serious enough to warrant their prosecution as adults.
· We use sparingly such phrases as "unavailable for comment'' or "could not be reached.'' We do so only after we have worked hard to reach suspects, their attorneys and others with a stake in the story. Keep written records of such efforts, and mention in story.
· Using "allegedly'' does not protect us from libel. Instead, cite multiple official sources, court records and testimony to make stories credible.
· Generally we try to name everyone involved in a crime serious enough to warrant a story. Names of victims or witnesses and their addresses may be withheld if there's a legitimate concern for their safety. We do not name victims of sexual crimes unless they request it. Decisions to publish or withhold a name should be approved by an Editor.
· When we identify suspects, we will make every effort to use differentiating details, such as full name, middle initial, age, street and occupation. Providing these details helps ensure accuracy and prevents innocent people with the same name from being implicated.
· Reporting bomb threats and similar hoaxes may lead to "copycat" threats. We generally avoid reporting these, except when many lives are disrupted for extended periods or when the threat attracts considerable community attention.
· When a public safety incident involves a public figure, we should apply our usual standards for determining whether a story is warranted. Ask this question: Does the incident conflict with the person's public role? For example, we would write about a politician with a long record of opposing drugs who is arrested for cocaine use.
· When a public safety incident involves someone closely connected to a public figure, we should apply our usual standards for determining whether a story is warranted. Ask this question: Is the public figure involved in the incident? When in doubt, do not implicate the public figure. For example, a school principal's name probably would not be included in a story about a spouse's drug arrest.
· Have we given accused persons a chance to make their case? Have we made serious efforts to reach a defense attorney? Have we also sought comments and reaction from relatives, co-workers and friends?
· Are we withholding the name of suspect, victim or witness because of age, safety concerns, the nature of the crime or other privacy concerns? Has an Editor approved withholding the name?
· Are the allegations provably true? Are we attributing allegations to records or testimony, and have we accurately represented the material?
· Are we writing about an incident only because the suspect is a public figure or connected to a public figure? Does this incident say something about the public figure that the community should know?
a. We must make every effort not to break the sub judice rule. We must ensure that any comment on cases before the court is fair and balanced.
b. The identification of relatives or friends or associates of persons convicted or accused of crime must be avoided unless it is directly relevant to the case.
c. Particular regard should be paid to the potentially vulnerable position of children who are witnesses to, or victims of crime.
First and foremost: treat every source fairly and with respect. Always identify yourself as a journalist so sources know their comments could be published. Any exception must be approved by the Editor.
Types of sources:
1. On the record: The source's identity and information can be used.
2. Not for attribution: A source provides information that can be used in a story but the source cannot be identified. The source and reporter must agree on this before the information is shared.
3. Off the record: This information cannot be published and the source's identity cannot be disclosed. Reporters can use the information to develop other sources for the story without revealing the off-the-record source. The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited's journalists have a moral obligation to protect their sources.
4. Anonymous sources: Restricting the use of anonymous sources is essential for protecting our integrity and credibility. However, delaying or withholding stories because of an anonymous source issue may deny the public the information it needs and deserves, which poses another threat to our integrity and credibility.
Despite the Access to Information legislation, government agencies and private institutions remain secretive and inclined to refuse access to information. That places a greater burden on news organisations to find alternative - and sometimes anonymous - sources of information.
While anonymous sourcing has become a standard journalistic technique, we at The Gleaner strive to limit its use. Every effort should be made to get the information on the record. Pledges of confidentiality by reporters should be given only as a last resort. Any promise of confidentiality is an agreement between the source and the newspaper, not an individual staff member.
The use of an anonymous source must be approved by your supervisor and the Editor-in-Chief must be informed especially in potentially highly controversial cases. The source's identity must be disclosed to the supervisor and at least one Senior Editor to ensure the source is reliable and knowledgeable. Reporters cannot promise that they will not share the source's identity with their Editor-in-Chief.
Anyone in the company who learns the identity of an anonymous source is bound by the terms of the confidentiality extended to the source. If a reporter cannot disclose the source's identity to Editors as required, the information will not be published. Any exception must be approved by the Editor-in-Chief or his nominee.
In news stories, we will make every effort to prevent an unnamed source from attacking a person or institution. Exceptions must be approved by a Duty Editor or the Editor-in-Chief on the basis of carefully considered reasons. Opinions of unnamed sources may be used to help a reporter shape a more complete picture of a person or institution, but should not be a guiding force or portrayed as such, except with approval of the Editor-in-Chief.
· Is on-the-record sourcing available for this information?
· Have you made several attempts to persuade the source to go on the record?
· Is the information crucial to public understanding of an important matter?
· Does the source have a legitimate reason for wanting to be shielded?
· Will identification put the source in physical danger or jeopardise his/her career or result in some other serious form of retribution?
· Have you skeptically analysed the source's motives?
When we decide that sources' identities will be shielded, we must tell the readers as much as possible about the unnamed sources, short of revealing their identities, including the reason for anonymity. We will avoid attributions like "key officials said" and "informed sources said." Instead attempt to give readers a better idea of who the individuals are and why their information might be significant enough for us to hide their identities. For example, use attributions like "a lawyer involved in the case", "a government official involved in the matter", "a KSAC member", "a JPS executive" or "a legislator and supporter of the bill."
Reporters should work out with their sources how they will be identified, subject to approval by their supervising Editor. Negotiate this. They typically will want as little identifying information as possible. Push back. Explain that the legitimacy of their information in the readers' minds depends on as much disclosure as possible.
We must be honest with our readers. They expect it of us and it's our contract with them. Our legitimacy and reputation depend on it.
We will not use a plural such as "sources", "officials", "experts" or "aides" when there is only one source. An anonymous source should never be another reporter in the Gleaner newsroom. Citing a reporter from another news organisation anonymously must be approved by the Editor.
We will avoid citing a source anonymously who is quoted by name elsewhere in the story. We also will avoid saying a source had "no
comment" or couldn't be reached for comment when that person is quoted anonymously in the story.
If you cannot be honest, leave the information out.
When you agree to shield sources, make sure they clearly understand the ground rules.
· If the source is lying will you keep the promise of anonymity?
· Will you go to jail for the source?
· Will the source come forward if you or the newspaper is subpoenaed?
· What if the source later discloses the information publicly?
If you make a promise to shield a source, you must keep it.
We discourage shielding the identities of people who appear in our stories. There are a few exceptions. We do not reveal the identities of sexual assault or child abuse victims without their permission.
Withholding identity in other situations - out of compassion, for instance - generally requires the approval of an Editor.
We are mindful that our newspapers may provide the only permanent, public record of a juvenile's involvement in the criminal justice system or the foster
care system. We may consider concealing the identity of a child or adolescent whose involvement in these systems is the subject of a story.
In the rare instances when we publish a source's first name only, we will explain to readers why a full name does not appear. We do not publish fictional names for real people as a means of shielding identity.
Reporters should know the names of all individuals whose identities are being protected and how to reach them. And those identities must be shared with their Editor.
The use of fictitious quotations and phantom sources is prohibited.
Anonymous comments from web logs and other Internet sites should not be used. The same standards apply to these sources as to other sources. If blogged comments are used, the sources should be identified by their full name. Every effort should be made to verify the identification of the source to ensure accuracy.
It is the duty of all Editorial employees to familiarize themselves with the law of libel and defamation. Staff members should check with Legal Advisor for copies of existing legislation. Each employee must attend at least two in-house libel workshops annually. The onus is on the staff member to ensure that he/she has the necessary knowledge.
Whenever there is any doubt as to whether a story might be libelous, it is essential that this story be read by the Company's Legal Advisor or referred to our external lawyer by the Editor.
a) protection to report what takes place in non- Jamaican courts
Court Reports out of Non-Commonwealth or non-Jamaican courts are not protected by privilege. To be specific, The Gleaner could become liable for libel for reporting proceedings of U.S. Courts even if that court is/was open to the public.
Reports of court proceedings which are held en camera (secret) - e.g. Grand Jury investigations - are not protected.
Reports on Court cases must not be based exclusively on attorney's views/comments but on comments from the Clerk of the Courts, Judges, or official documents.
Reports written by reporters, who were not personally in Court, should normally be regarded as questionable and not be published without approval of the Editor.
The Wire Editor, a News Editor or Duty Editor is responsible for reviewing all non- commonwealth court stores for libel and should consult with the attorney when in doubt.
b) Reporting on arrests
It is the duty of editors to ensure that reports on police arrest or actions rely on official releases such as those issued by the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) and should not be based on allegations by complainants.
It is the duty of the News Editor to ensure that the future dates are recorded and that the case is covered.
c) Reports on persons being investigated
No story will be run in any Gleaner publication which alleges that a named individual is being investigated (in contrast to being charged) for any offence which might be libelous.
The situation is different if an individual has been charged with an offence or there has been a public statement by an official figure
concerning the investigation (e.g. Constabulary Communication Network).
A conversation between a reporter and a police official is not a public statement, unless the police officer is speaking in his capacity as an officer of the law and the information is given to the reporter in his capacity as a journalist.
In all such cases the identity of the person making the statement must be published.
A story reporting on an investigation (no charge having been made) must be handled with great care to avoid libel. If it is likely to be highly controversial, this should be approved in advance by the Editor-in-Chief or his nominee.
In any such story, if it is run following a public statement, every attempt must be made by a reporter and supervisor to contact the person being investigated to obtain his/her side of the story. In every case involving an investigation, the Legal Advisor must see the story and approve it.
The story should only contain the facts set out in public statements or reliable sources and should not contain rumours, innuendoes, speculation or unconfirmable (in court) background material. Editors must insist that this guideline is followed.
d) Recording of conversations/interviews
Reporters should try as often as possible to tape all conversations when conducting interviews, and/or ensure that accurate notes are kept and that these form part of their retained records. Notes should be kept for at least two years. There should be regular checks by the Editor-in-Chief or nominee to ensure compliance.
Those reporters who tape conversations must advise the other party that they are being taped unless the taping is visually obvious. The Editors are responsible for confirming that such recordings exist and confirm what is published.
e) Retention of notes and tapes
An offended party has up to six years to initiate a legal action against the Gleaner for libel. This means that The Gleaner in 2007 could have knowledge for the first time of a claim for libel in respect of a story run in 2001.
Editors are, therefore, required to ensure that notebooks and supporting documentation are available for up to six years after a news story has been carried.
All reporters under the terms of their employment agree that they will make themselves available to The Gleaner Company (Media) Ltd even after they have left the employment of the Company to defend any legal action that may arise as a result of their reporting.
The Editorial Department will be responsible for finding a mechanism to store reporters' notebooks and tapes in safe custody once they have completed a notebook or tape. Currently they are stored in the Information Systems Department. The Editor-in-Chief must check on a regular basis to ensure this rule is being followed.
Particular care should be taken in publishing material received from correspondents.
The Duty Editor is responsible for ensuring that all facts contained in such stories are capable of verification. It is to be anticipated that some correspondent's stories will require the Duty Editor to contact the correspondent and discuss the article with them.
23. WIRE POLICY
Wire stories that use anonymous sources will be viewed with a critical eye. However, we recognise that many important news stories depend on such sources. We may choose to run such stories from news providers that are known to have strong anonymous-source policies to prevent error and abuse - such as Reuters, The Associated Press. Anonymously sourced stories from other news providers will be reviewed more rigorously, but we may choose to run them, as well, depending on the provider's reputation and track record with The Gleaner, and the importance of the story. If a wire story uses anonymous sources and we deem that material non-essential, we may cut it and run the rest of the story.
We encourage reporters to call sources to verify quotes or information. For accuracy's sake, you may read back passages of a story. However, we do not allow sources to approve stories for publication. Stories must not be sent to outsiders for editing or vetting.
25. RACIAL AND ETHNIC IDENTIFICATION
We identify someone's race, ethnicity or sexual preferences only when it is important to understanding the story.
Identify race evenly. Stories that deal with racial conflict or identify people by race because that's the topic should identify all the characters in the story by race. This rule also applies to columns and gossip columns.
· Is race or ethnic identity relevant? Can I explain the relevance in the story?
· How will this information help readers understand this story?
· Am I stereotyping a race or ethnic group, or just catering to some readers' idle curiosity?
· Is the physical description specific enough to help a reader identify a suspect?
a. Implementation and enforcement
"We need criticism and should seek it. Lacking trust, a newspaper cannot serve or advance any worthy purpose”
a. New employees: Every new Editorial employee will receive a copy of this policy when completing new-employee paperwork. Supervisors will review the policy with new employees to Â make sure that the policies are fully understood.
b. Current employees: It is important for every newsroom employee to know the Ethics Policy and use it when making decisions. Supervisors will review the policy with team members as part of the annual process. Each newsroom employee will annually attest in writing they have read the ethics policy in the preceding 12 months.
· If you believe you may have inadvertently violated any of these guidelines, or a family member's activities may have created a conflict or the appearance of conflict for you, notify your supervisor as quickly as possible.
· Intentional or flagrant violations of the ethics policy may result in disciplinary action: reprimand, suspension or, in the most serious cases, termination.
· We understand the reluctance to judge others' ethical behaviour. But we also recognise that we have a responsibility to our readers and to the credibility of the newspaper that outweighs personal loyalties and friendship. For that reason, any staff member who becomes aware of possible ethical violations by others is encouraged to bring it to the attention of the Editor.
· We will publish our Code of Ethics on our Intranet and Go-Jamaica.
· We will use our Editorial pages to refer readers to the Ethics Policy on the Web site.
· The Editor will introduce to readers the Gleaner's adoption of an updated Code of Ethics and professionalism. The Editor-in-Chief also may write subsequent columns that revisit the code and give examples of how it was used.
29. CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Confidential information includes: technical information about editorial and company policies; cost, marketing strategies; non-public financial reports. In addition, the way we put publicly known information together, to achieve a particular result, is often a valuable trade secret.
Intellectual Property (IP) includes: patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. IP owners have rights granted to them under the law. Confidential information, including that which relates to IP, is a valuable asset that could benefit a competitor if known to it or otherwise harm the Company if made public. We must be careful not to disclose such information to unauthorized persons, either within or outside the Gleaner, and must exercise care to protect the confidentiality of such information received from another party.
Newspapers which are not available for sale at the right time will never get sold. Newspapers should be regarded as highly perishable. Today's newspaper can rarely be sold tomorrow.
To achieve our deadline there should be a regular flow of completed pages passing throughout the day from Editorial to Prepress and on to the Print Department. The Editorial Department strives to meet all deadlines.
31. THEREFORE, WE MUST:
a. Be careful about where we discuss editorial matters involving confidential information;
b. Not disclose or use any confidential information for personal profit or advantage;
c. Not sign a secrecy agreement with persons outside the company;
d. Not execute confidentiality agreements with persons outside the Company before discussing the Editorial's and the Gleaner's confidential information;
e. While being alert to information in the marketplace, obtain competitive information only in accordance with sound business and ethical principles;
f. When approached with any offer of confidential information, ensure that both parties understand and accept the condition under which the information is received; and
g. Discuss with a supervisor or a Legal Advisor any unsolicited offer of confidential information in order to determine whether the information should be accepted or declined. This is particularly important if you have reason to believe it may have been obtained improperly.
We must always protect The Gleaner's confidential information and IP rights and we must also respect the same rights of others. Report any unauthorized use of The Gleaner's IP. The Gleaner trademark and trade name are among newspaper's most valuable assets.
The Gleaner's policy is to license one software package per employee-user, except when the license provides otherwise or permits a network version of the software to be used. We must not copy software, protected by copyright law and/or license agreements.
E-mail and Internet systems are provided primarily for business use. E-mail is not entirely secure and may be susceptible to interception and creates a permanent record. Any e-mail you send may be printed by the recipient and forwarded by the recipient to others, and is
probably retained on company computers for a substantial period of time. Therefore, the Editorial staff should exercise the same care, caution and etiquette in sending an e-mail message as they would in normal written business communications.
In relation to your Company Internet connection, do not download any data that is unprofessional or inappropriate for business use. In addition, all employee e-mail and Internet usage may be the subject of monitoring without notice.
A Gleaner-furnished computer and e-mail system should not be used to originate or forward non-business matters such as chain letters. The Gleaner's e-mail system is provided to Gleaner employees for the conduct of the Gleaner's business only.
33. COMPLIANCE WITH THE CODE
All Editorial employees are expected to comply with the Editorial Code of Ethics and actively support its values and principles.
Any employee who fails to comply with the Code, or who withholds information during the course of an investigation regarding a possible violation of it is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Any consultant or supplier who fails to comply with the Code may see their contract terminated or not renewed. Depending upon the nature of the noncompliance, the Gleaner may have the legal obligation to report the non-compliance to the appropriate authorities.
Breaches of the Code of Ethics must be reported immediately to one of the following:
1. the Editor-in-Chief
2. Legal Advisor; or
3. the Group Human Resource Manager
All information will, to the extent possible, be received in confidence. No retaliatory action will be taken against anyone for making in good faith a report of a violation. However, anyone who takes part in a prohibited activity may be disciplined even if they report it. An employee's decision to report will, in all cases, be given due consideration in the event any disciplinary action is necessary.
Compliance with this Code of Ethics will be measured by audits by the Company's Auditors.
Updated: May 6, 2021