The guidelines and editorial standards set out our expectations of the behaviour of Newham Voices people accordance with governance and management structure. They are monitored by the Board and our designated editor.
Anyone who wishes to complain about a breach of these standards or to comment on our work should contact the Publisher or Editor.
In applying these guidelines, Newham Voices dedicates its journalism to the public interest and the people’s right of access to public information in Newham. The public interest includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- The revelation or discussion of matters such as incompetence, malpractice or unethical behaviour in public life;
- Putting the record straight where an individual or organisation has misled the public on a matter of public importance;
- Revealing that a person or organisation may be failing to comply with their legal obligations;
- The proper administration of local government at all levels;
- The open, fair and effective administration of justice;
- Public health and safety;
- The prevention and detection of crime;
- The economic, educational and social development of people in Newham;
- The discussion or analysis of artistic or cultural works in Newham.
In defence of these public interests the Newham Voices is committed to
1. Editorial independence and ensuring that all forms of advertising, sponsored content or other commercial editorial products are clearly marked and distinguished from editorial material produced in line with the core principles of journalism; and
2. The prohibition of any content, whether editorial or publicly generated, on the grounds of defamation, hate-speech, unfair discrimination, invasion of privacy or abuse.
3. An emphasis on positive messages and reporting that encourages problem-solving and social cohesion within the community of Newham.
Articles commissioned by Newham Voices are not published anonymously or with pseudonyms. This may happen only in exceptional circumstances. In such cases, readers will be made aware that identities have been withheld and an explanation given.
Payments for Editorial Material
In general, we do not pay for stories, except from bona fide freelance sources. The responsible editor must approve rare exceptions. Staff should always discuss with the editor beforehand or clarify policy with management if they are concerned that any payments might be inappropriate and, if such payments are requested or made, they should inform the editor-in-chief of the circumstances as soon as they are able to afterwards.
The Newham Voices supports good commissioning practice, including fair treatment of freelancers. Editors should make reference to good practice when commissioning new contributors. (See http://www.guardian.co.uk/info/guardian-news-media-freelance-charter)
Responsible editors with access to personal information relating to other members of staff must treat such information as confidential and not disclose it to anyone except in the course of discharging formal responsibilities.
Journalists should not use content from non-authorised third-party sources – whether pictures, text or other media – without obtaining the necessary permissions. However, use of available copyrighted material under news access or criticism and review is acceptable and normally justified in law and morally. Journalists should especially familiarise themselves with rules regarding rights and use of content from public websites.
It is our policy to correct significant errors as soon as possible. Journalists have a duty to cooperate frankly and openly with the responsible editor and senior management and to report errors to them. All complaints should be recorded and brought to the attention of the editor. The process of making and dealing with complaints should be made known to the public.
The laws of libel and contempt laws are complex, and constantly developing. Staff should familiarise themselves with the current state of the law and seek further information if they are uncertain about aspects of it and brief themselves on national legal conditions and active cases relevant to their work.
We are committed to respecting people’s privacy. Much journalism may be intrinsically intrusive but we should avoid invading anyone’s privacy unnecessarily.
Proportionality and proper prior consideration are essential where privacy issues may be involved. Intrusion must be justified by the seriousness of the story and the public good that is likely to follow from publication.
Likewise, the grounds for investigation must be strong; we do not conduct speculative reporting expeditions unless the issue, suspicion and prospects of success are all serious.
Caution should also be exercised about reporting and publishing identifying details, such as street names and numbers that may enable others to intrude on the privacy or safety of people who have become the subject of media coverage.
Engagement with the People of Newham and Social Media
Our most important relationship is the one we have with the people of Newham, our readers and site users. Courtesy applies whether an exchange takes place in person, by telephone, letter or email.
We recognise that communication online, e.g. in blogs and social media domains, can be more informal, brisk and, where a debate is underway, combative — but journalists should be mindful of the guidelines on blogging and social media.
1. Accuracy and Verification
Trust in the accuracy, authenticity and reliability of our information is essential. Digital communications present special challenges and we insist on seeking reliable corroboration of information.
Journalists should state the level of substantiation we have been able to achieve and indicate where we have been unable to verify the facts independently.
We do not state as fact information about or from someone who we cannot authenticate (e.g., “A student who says she witnessed the fight”, not “A student who witnessed the fight”).
Where relevant we are open with readers in explaining what medium is used to conduct interviews and how we have verified information. Satisfaction with sources is the responsibility of editors as well as reporters and correspondents, and desk editors should be confident in challenging the dependability of information.
2. Attribution and Anonymous quotations
People often speak more honestly if they can speak anonymously and non-attributed quotes can assist the reader towards a truer understanding of a subject. But indiscriminate use of anonymous sources can be used to promote narrow undisclosed political, commercial or other special interests.
There may be exceptional circumstances when anonymous pejorative quotes may be used, but only after consultation with the senior responsible editor. In the absence of specific approval, we should paraphrase anonymous pejorative quotes.
We strive to be honest about our sources, even if we can’t name them.
3. Sources of Information
Sources who give information and who put themselves at risk may be promised confidentiality. They should be protected at all costs. However, where possible, the sources of information should be identified as specifically as possible.
Reporters must not reproduce other people’s material without attribution, except in exceptional circumstances – for example where the source must be protected — and only then with the permission of the editor.
The source of published material obtained from another organisation should be acknowledged, including quotes taken from other newspaper articles.
Bylines should be carried only on material that is substantially the work of the named journalist. If an article contains a significant amount of material from another source that source should also be credited.
4. Copy approval
The general rule is that interviewees or third parties should not be given the right to copy approval. In certain circumstances we may allow people to see copy or quotes in the interests of accuracy but we are not required to alter copy.
Offering copy approval should be avoided as a method of securing interviews or co-operation.
5. Reporting Children
Special care should be taken when dealing with children (under the age of 16, although the rights of the child in international law cover individuals under the age of 18).
Children should not be asked questions beyond their knowledge and capacity to answer.
The editor must be informed when children are photographed or interviewed without the consent of a responsible adult or parent.
Consent to publication should be sought where the child is reasonably considered able to make an informed decision.
Journalists should not make significant intrusions into children’s private lives without their understanding and consent. If this happens it must be accompanied by a strong public interest justification.
In view of the longevity of online material, editors should consider whether to obscure children’s identities to protect them from embarrassment or harm as they grow older.
6. Direct quotations
Journalists and editors should never change direct quotations to alter their context or meaning, although minor editing may be needed for clarity.
Journalists should not agree to promote through copy, photographs or footnotes the financial interests of prospective interviewees or contributors, or their sponsors, as a means of securing access to them. Promotional information about a subject should be included only where it is of genuine interest or assistance to the reader.
8. Fairness and Use of Language:
We aim to provide inclusive and fair reporting which seeks to give voice to people or groups who are criticised. The more serious the criticism or allegations we are reporting the greater the obligation to allow the subject the opportunity to respond.
This right of response should be recognised for individuals and for groups, including minority groups, where general criticisms are made.
Our journalists and editors respect the reader and we should not casually use words that are likely to offend. The use of swear words, for instance, should only be when absolutely necessary to the facts of a piece, or to portray a character in an article and then used in direct quotes. We avoid using such language in headlines or otherwise highlighting such words and we never use asterisks.
People should be treated with sensitivity in reporting periods of grief and trauma.
10. Photographs, videos and images:
Altering pictures or distorting audio-visual material is generally unacceptable. Where it takes place there should be clear indication that the images have been changed and digitally enhanced or altered, images, montages and illustrations should be clearly labelled.
11. Ethnicity and Respect for Diversity:
Newham Voices is committed to non-discrimination and recognises its responsibility to deliver quality information to one of the most diverse communities in the UK.
In general, we do not publish someone’s race or ethnic background or religion unless that information is relevant to the story. We always respect the customs, culture and traditions of our readers.
We do not report the race of criminal suspects unless the ethnic background is part of a description that seeks to identify them or is important to the story (for example, in the case of hate crime).
Journalists should be frank and identify themselves as company employees when working on a story. There may be instances involving stories of exceptional public interest where this does not apply, but this needs the approval of the responsible editor. This applies to anything we publish, including any information obtained by the subterfuge of others. (See Privacy section above).
13. Self-harm and Suicide:
Journalists are asked to exercise care in reporting self-harm, in particular, cases of suicide. People who take their own lives are often disturbed more than people who carry out less extreme forms of self-harm, but in all cases it is important to avoid reporting in ways that risk encouraging others or that may compromise the privacy of others involved, including close relatives.
This should be borne in mind both in presentation, including the use of pictures, and in describing the method of self-harm.
When appropriate, a helpline number should be given, general information related to suicide prevention and support groups should be provided. For example, in the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.
Conflicts of interest
Newham Voices values our reputation for independence and integrity. Journalists clearly have lives, interests, hobbies, convictions and beliefs outside their work.
We aim to ensure that outside interests do not come into conflict with our journalism or compromise our editorial integrity.
The following guidelines concern all active outside interests which, should they remain undeclared and become known, would cause a fair-minded reader to question the independence of our editorial work.
We recognise that objectivity is not a one-size-fits-all rule. A columnist, for instance, with views openly on display, may have more latitude than a staff reporter, who would be expected to bring rigorous qualities of objectivity to their work. If in doubt, journalists should consult a responsible editor or editor-in-chief.
1. Free gifts
Staff should not be influenced by commercial considerations — including the interests of advertisers — in the preparation of material for the paper.
No members of our staff, or freelancers with known connection to us, should use their position to obtain private benefit for themselves or others. We do not allow any payment, gift or other advantage to undermine the accuracy, fairness or independence of our journalism.
Any attempts to induce favourable editorial treatment through the offer of gifts or favours should be reported to the editor. Where relevant, payments, gifts or other advantages will be disclosed.
Staff members should not use their positions to seek any benefit or advantage in personal business, financial or commercial transactions not afforded to the public generally.
Staff should not use the name of the company in connection with outside matters or cite a connection with the company to resolve consumer grievances, get quicker service or seek discount or deals.
We should disclose when another organisation has borne the cost of transporting or accommodating a journalist. Acceptance of any such offer is conditional on editorial managers being free to assign and report or not report any resulting story.
2. Commercial products
No journalist or freelance primarily associated with us should endorse commercial products unless with the express permission of the responsible editor or editor-in-chief. We should not be involved in producing advertisement features (advertorials or any sponsored digital content).
3. Outside Interests
Staff journalists always have the right to outside activities (including holding office or being otherwise actively involved in organisations, companies or political parties). However, these may sometimes be perceived as influencing or conflicting with the integrity of our journalism.
Staff should inform the editor about any outside personal, philosophical or financial interests that might conflict with their professional performance, or could be perceived as doing so.
4. Declarations of interest
Journalists should declare an interest when we are writing about something with which he or she has a significant connection. This applies to both staff journalists and freelances. The declaration should be to a head of department or editor. Full transparency may mean disclosing the declaration in print and on the website.
A connection does not have to be a formal one before it is necessary to declare it. Acting in an advisory capacity in the preparation of a report for an organisation, for example, would require a declaration.
Some connections are obvious and may be why the writer has been commissioned. These should always be stated at the end of the writer’s contribution even if he or she contributes regularly.
Generally speaking, a journalist should not write about or quote a relative or partner in a piece, even if the relative or partner is an expert in the field in question. If, for any reason, an exception is made to this rule, the connection should be made clear.
5. Financial reporting:
The Newham Voices is aware of potential conflicts of interest in financial reporting. Our journalists and management are required to declare any significant financial interest which may give rise to a perception of conflict of interest. These editorial guidelines:
• prohibit the use of financial information for the profit of journalists or their associates;
• stop journalists dealing in shares about which they have written recently or intend to write in the near future; and
• require that journalists take care not to publish inaccurate material and to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.
This is particularly important for any journalists making investment recommendations to readers about whether to buy, sell or hold shares.
6. Outside engagements:
The company accepts the journalist’s right to a private life and the right to take part in civic society. However, staff should inform the editor if, in their capacity as a worker with Newham Voices, they intend to:
• Give evidence to any court,
• Chair public forums or seminars arranged by professional conference organisers or commercial organisations,
• Undertake any outside employment likely to conflict with their professional duties,
• Chair public or political forums or appear on platforms,
• Make representations or give evidence to any official body in connection with material that has been published by the company.
Journalists invited to chair debates or appear on panels as a representative of the company should not usually accept or request payment for doing so, unless preparation or attendance at the event involves a significant call on private time.
Acceptance of payment should be approved in advance by the responsible editor or editor-in-chief having particular regard for other clauses within these guidelines, such as conflict of interest, declarations of interest and endorsement of commercial products. Travel and other reasonable expenses may be accepted.
In general, staff journalists should not provide public relations advice, especially to an audience that has paid to attend. Please consult the editor if in doubt.
Note: Where a journalist or editor has concerns about the ethical implications of behaviour or conduct in any aspect of editorial work, including issues raised in these guidelines, they should seek advice from the editor or senior management. In certain cases, we may seek advice also from appropriate industry bodies or experts (e.g. IMPRESS or the Community News Association).
In active support of the values, principles and code of practice set out here, Newham Voices will establish a mechanism for engagement with the readers and dealing with complaints.
Anyone who wishes to complain about a breach of our editorial standards or to comment on our work should email firstname.lastname@example.org