Reuters_handbookofjournalism.pdf - Reuters Handbook of Journalism Everything we do as Reuters journalists has to be independent free from bias and

Reuters_handbookofjournalism.pdf - Reuters Handbook of...

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Unformatted text preview: Reuters Handbook of Journalism Everything we do as Reuters journalists has to be independent, free from bias and executed with the utmost integrity. These are our core values and stem from the Reuters Trust Principles. As a real-time, competitive news service whose reputation rests on reliability, we also value accuracy, speed and exclusivity. The way in which we, as Reuters employees, live these values is governed by the Reuters Code of Conduct. That code, with a few notable exceptions that apply specifically to journalists, governs the behaviour of all Reuters employees and is essential reading. As journalists, however, we have additional responsibilities if we are to fulfil the highest aspirations of our profession - to search for and report the truth, fairly, honestly and unfailingly. This handbook is not intended as a collection of "rules". Beyond the obvious, such as the cardinal sin of plagiarism, the dishonesty of fabrication or the immorality of bribe-taking, journalism is a profession that has to be governed by ethical guiding principles rather than by rigid rules. The former liberate, and lead to better journalism. The latter constrain, and restrict our ability to operate. What follows is an attempt to map out those principles, as guidance to taking decisions and adopting behaviours that are in the best interests of Reuters, our shareholders, our customers, our contacts, our readers and our profession. The handbook, now in its second online edition and fully revised, is the work of no one individual. Dozens of journalists from text, television, pictures and from domestic as well as international services, have worked to bring it up to date. It builds on the work of colleagues, too many to number over the past 150 years, whose commitment to the most ethical standards of our profession has made Reuters the outstanding news organisation it is today. April 2008 This page was last modified 22:54, 24 November 2009. Standards and Values What Makes a Reuters Journalist? There are many different types of journalism practised in Reuters, across text, television, picture services and online. No one definition of our craft applies to them all. What must unite us is honesty and integrity. We often face difficult choices in the pursuit of better stories and superior images. In such situations there are several "right" answers and the rules we use run out. We can, however, guard against damage to our reputation through a shared understanding of the fundamental principles that govern our work. The 10 Absolutes of Reuters Journalism • • • • • • • • • Always hold accuracy sacrosanct Always correct an error openly Always strive for balance and freedom from bias Always reveal a conflict of interest to a manager Always respect privileged information Always protect their sources from the authorities Always guard against putting their opinion in a news story Never fabricate or plagiarise Never alter a still or moving image beyond the requirements of normal image enhancement • Never pay for a story and never accept a bribe This page was last modified 15:30, 14 February 2012. Accuracy Accuracy is at the heart of what we do. It is our job to get it first but it is above all our job to get it right. Accuracy, as well as balance, always takes precedence over speed. Contents • • • • • • • • 1 Corrections 2 Sourcing 3 Quotes 4 Reflecting reality 5 Datelines and bylines 6 Attribution 7 Reporting rumours 8 Graphic images and obscenities Corrections Reuters is transparent about errors. We rectify them promptly and clearly, whether in a story, a caption, a graphic or a script. We do not disguise or bury corrections in subsequent leads or stories. Our Corrections Policy is outlined in this Handbook. Sourcing Accuracy entails honesty in sourcing. Our reputation for that accuracy, and for freedom from bias, rests on the credibility of our sources. A Reuters journalist or camera is always the best source on a witnessed event. A named source is always preferable to an unnamed source. We should never deliberately mislead in our sourcing, quote a source saying one thing on the record and something contradictory on background, or cite sources in the plural when we have only one. Anonymous sources are the weakest sources. All journalists should be familiar with the detailed guidance in The Essentials of Reuters sourcing. Here are some handy tips: • Use named sources wherever possible because they are responsible for the information they provide, even though we remain liable for accuracy, balance and legal dangers. Press your sources to go on the record. • Reuters will use unnamed sources where necessary when they provide information of market or public interest that is not available on the record. We alone are responsible for the accuracy of such information. • When talking to sources, always make sure the ground rules are clear. Take notes and record interviews. • Cross-check information wherever possible. Two or more sources are better than one. In assessing information from unnamed sources, weigh the source's track record, position and motive. Use your common sense. If it sounds wrong, check further. • Talk to sources on all sides of a deal, dispute, negotiation or conflict. • Be honest in sourcing and in obtaining information. Give as much context and detail as you can about sources, whether named or anonymous, to authenticate information they provide. Be explicit about what you don't know. • Reuters will publish news from a single, anonymous source in exceptional cases, when it is credible information from a trusted source with direct knowledge of the situation. Single-source stories are subject to a special authorisation procedure. • A source's compact is with Reuters, not with the reporter. If asked on legitimate editorial grounds, you are expected to disclose your source to • • • • your supervisor. Protecting the confidentiality of sources, by both the reporter and supervisor, is paramount. When doing initiative reporting, try to disprove as well as prove your story. Accuracy always comes first. It's better to be late than wrong. Before pushing the button, think how you would withstand a challenge or a denial. Know your sources well. Consider carefully if the person you are communicating with is an imposter. Sources can provide information by whatever means available - telephone, in person, email, instant messaging, text message. But be aware that any communication can be interfered with. Reuters will stand by a reporter who has followed the sourcing guidelines and the proper approval procedures. Quotes Quotes are sacrosanct. They must never be altered other than to delete a redundant word or clause, and then only if the deletion does not alter the sense of the quote in any way. Selective use of quotes can be unbalanced. Be sure that quotes you use are representative of what the speaker is saying and that you describe body language (a smile or a wink) that may affect the sense of what is being reported. When quoting an individual always give the context or circumstances of the quote. It is not our job to make people look good by cleaning up inelegant turns of phrase, nor is it our job to expose them to ridicule by running such quotes. In most cases, this dilemma can be resolved by paraphrase and reported speech. Where it cannot, reporters should consult a more senior journalist to discuss whether the quote can be run verbatim. Correcting a grammatical error in a quote may be valid, but rewording an entire phrase is not. When translating quotes from one language into another, we should do so in an idiomatic way rather than with pedantic literalness. Care must be taken to ensure that the tone of the translation is equivalent to the tone of the original. Beware of translating quotes in newspaper pickups back into the original language of the source. If a French politician gives an interview to an American newspaper, it is almost certain that the translation back into French will be wrong and in some cases the quote could be very different. In such cases, the fewer quotes and the more reported speech, the better. Reflecting reality Accuracy means that our images and stories must reflect reality. It can be tempting for journalists to "hype" or sensationalise material, skewing the reality of the situation or misleading the reader or viewer into assumptions and impressions that are wrong and potentially harmful. A "flood" of immigrants, for example, may in reality be a relatively small number of people just as a "surge" in a stock price may be a quite modest rise. Stopping to think, and to discuss, how we use words leads to more precise journalism and also minimises the potential for harm. Similarly, no actions in visual journalism should be taken that add to or detract from the reality of images. In some circumstances, this may constitute fabrication and can cause serious damage to our reputation. Such actions may lead to disciplinary measures, including dismissal. Datelines and bylines Accuracy is paramount in our use of datelines and bylines. Readers assume that the byline shows the writer was at the dateline. We should byline stories only from datelines where the writer (or the reporter being written up on a desk) was present. We may only use datelines where we have staff or freelancers on the spot from text, photos or TV and we are getting information from them on the ground. Reporters or freelancers who have contributed to a report should be included in an additional reporting line at the end of the story, giving their name and location. Attribution Accuracy means proper attribution to the source of material that is not ours, whether in a story, a photograph or moving images. Our customers and the public rely on us to be honest about where material has originated. It allows them to assess the reliability. It is insufficient simply to label video or a photograph as "handout". We should clearly identify the source - for example "Greenpeace Video" or "U.S. Army Photo". Similarly, it is essential for transparency that material we did not gather ourselves is clearly attributed in stories to the source, including when that source is a rival organisation. Failure to do so may open us to charges of plagiarism. Reporting rumours Reuters aims to report the facts, not rumours. Clients rely on us to differentiate between fact and rumour and our reputation rests partly on that. There are times when rumours affect financial markets and we have a duty to tell readers why a market is moving and to try to track down the rumour - to verify it or knock it down. There may be exceptional circumstances when a market is moving so rapidly and so violently that we move a story before being able to verify or knock down the rumour. Full guidance on how to handle rumours is in The Essentials of Reuters sourcing. Graphic images and obscenities In the course of our work, we witness and record scenes of a violent or sexually graphic nature. As journalists, we have an obligation to convey the reality of what we report accurately, yet a duty to be aware that such material can cause distress, damage the dignity of the individuals concerned or even in some cases so overpower the viewer or reader that a rational understanding of the facts is impaired. We do not sanitise violence, bowdlerise speech or euphemise sex. We should not, however, publish graphic images and details or obscene language gratuitously or with an intention to titillate or to shock. There must be a valid news reason for running such material and it will usually require a decision by a senior editor. In all cases, we need to consider whether the material is necessary to an understanding of the reality portrayed or described. We should also be mindful that our customers in different markets often have different thresholds and needs. Graphic material which we might send to our wholesale broadcast clients may not be suitable for use online in our consumer business, just as a sexually explicit photograph may be more acceptable in one part of the world than another. Further guidance on dealing with graphic images can be found in the Photos and Video sections of this Handbook. Writers should consult the Style Guide entry on obscenities for guidance on how to handle offensive language. Stories that contain such language must be sent ATTENTION EDITOR. Category: Standards and Values This page was last modified 10:19, 1 October 2008. Freedom from bias Reuters would not be Reuters without freedom from bias. We are a "stateless" news service that welcomes diversity into our newsrooms but asks all staff to park their nationality and politics at the door. This neutrality is a hallmark of our news brand and allows us to work on all sides of an issue, conflict or dispute without any agenda other than accurate, fair reporting. Our customers and our sources value Reuters for that quality and it is one we all must work to preserve. Contents • • • • • • • • • 1 Take no side, tell all sides 2 Opinion and Analysis 3 Discriminatory language and stereotypes 4 Investment advice 5 Reporting on Reuters 6 Political and Community Activity 7 Equal Opportunity in the Newsroom 8 Diversity in the Newsroom 9 Media Interviews and Speaking Engagements Take no side, tell all sides As Reuters journalists, we never identify with any side in an issue, a conflict or a dispute. Our text and visual stories need to reflect all sides, not just one. This leads to better journalism because it requires us to stop at each stage of newsgathering and ask ourselves "What do I know?" and "What do I need to know?" In reporting a takeover bid, for example, it should be obvious that the target company must be given an opportunity to state their position. Similarly in a political dispute or military conflict, there are always at least two sides to consider and we risk being perceived as biased if we fail to give adequate space to the various parties. This objectivity does not always come down to giving equal space to all sides. The perpetrator of an atrocity or the leader of a fringe political group arguably warrants less space than the victims or mainstream political parties. We must, however, always strive to be scrupulously fair and balanced. Allegations should not be portrayed as fact; charges should not be conveyed as a sign of guilt. We have a duty of fairness to give the subjects of such stories the opportunity to put their side. We must also be on guard against bias in our choice of words. Words like "claimed" or "according to" can suggest we doubt what is being said. Words like "fears" or "hopes" might suggest we are taking sides. Verbs like rebut or refute (which means to disprove) or like fail (as in failed to comment) can imply an editorial judgment and are best avoided. Thinking about language can only improve our writing and our journalism. Opinion and Analysis Reuters makes a fundamental distinction between our factual news stories and clearly-labelled opinion pieces. Reuters journalists do not express their opinions in news stories, voiced video or scripts, or on blogs or chat rooms they may contribute to in the course of their work. This fundamental principle has generated huge trust in Reuters among customers and the public over many years. It holds true for all the types of news that Reuters covers, whether financial or general and in any language or form. This is not to say that other people's opinions have no place in our stories. They are very often relevant to the story and are essential for the reader or viewer to understand its meaning and consequences. For that to hold true, quoted opinion must be authoritative and be attributed to a named source. We risk biased reporting if we allow an unnamed source to say, for example, "I believe Company X is on the path to strong revenue growth and see its stock rising by 20 per cent over the next six months." We have no protection in such a case against the charge that we are working in the interests of unnamed sources to talk up a stock that their firms may have a substantial interest in. We do enjoy that protection if we write: "I believe Company X is on the path to strong revenue growth and see its stock rising by 20 per cent over next six months," said Joe Mo, a senior equities analyst at Manchuk Fund Manager which holds 7.3 per cent of the company's share capital. In our columns and in certain other distinct services we may create, we do allow named authors to express a point of view. We will always clearly label these pieces as being distinct from the factual news file and we will publish disclaimers that say the work does not represent the opinions of Reuters. Those journalists who are allowed to publish "point of view" pieces like columns will express solidly-grounded views in their areas of expertise and will not simply provoke with ungrounded assertions or personal attacks . For more on columnists see the section Columns. It is the responsibility of senior editors to ensure that we publish a variety of views by aggregating the work of others, by commissioning guest contributions, by encouraging engagement by our audiences in different forms and by reflecting the multiplicity of human perspectives across a varied and diverse news file. Analysis is a valued part of our news file and should not be confused with items like Columns. Whether in spot copy or as a stand-alone item tagged ANALYSIS, we provide valued insight into events or issues and cast light on them from a new angle without compromising our standards of impartiality or commitment to fairness. The writer's professional judgment has a large part to play in good analysis though we must take care not to stray into the realm of opinion. Good analysis is supported by the established facts or available data and rests on the use of named sources and the writer's expertise. Analysis need not reflect the consensus view; indeed some of the best analysis may challenge that view. A story that takes the ANALYSIS tag may also be appropriate for an informative, indepth look at an issue of interest to a specialist readership, without necessarily needing a spot hook for the story. Discriminatory language and stereotypes We must avoid inappropriate references to gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, appearance, age, and sexual orientation. When a story relies on such references, we should ask if it is a Reuters story at all. A Reuters journalist must be sensitive to unconscious stereotyping and dated assumptions. Is it really novel that the person in the news is black, blonde, female, overweight or gay? If it is relevant, does the fact belong in the lead or should it be woven in lower down? Our language should be neutral and natural. When referring to professional groups, plural expressions such as executives and journalists are preferable to gender-specific tags that imply the exclusion of women. We should avoid artificial words such as "spokesperson" when describing a role. We should avoid gratuitous references to appearance or attire, while recognising the situations when these details are relevant. Reporters must resist the assumption that their cultural values, religious beliefs or social mores are the norm. We should also be suspicious of country stereotypes - the usually negative notions about a national character. These can be offensive. References to country stereotypes may be valid in certain well-balanced stories, but we should always proceed with caution, even when seeking to challenge or subvert a preconception. Fuller guidance can be found in the section of this Handbook Reporting about people. Investment advice You must not express a personal view in reports on the merits of a particular investment. Reports containing value judgments on investments must be sourced to a named third party. Local laws also impact on our reporting. Reuters reports news. It does not give investment advice and in many countries is prohibited from doing s...
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