Editorial Guidelines

Northern PR Services Editorial Guidelines 

Code of Conduct

This policy applies to full-time, part-time and cadet employees and interns and all parties contracted to produced editorial, graphics or photography. They are referred to as ‘staff’.

The Editorial Professional Conduct Policy should be viewed in conjunction with Northern PR Services’ privacy and complaints handling policies.

It covers all published activities including print, video, social media, website and EDM.

The managing editor and chief of staff are authorised as the arbiters of the policy.

1.0 Accuracy and Reporting

1.1  Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate and not misleading.

1.2  We generally do not editorialise, campaign or take stances on issues. There will be times when we respond to comments made on social media. This will generally be for clarification purposes or to increase accuracy and understanding.  

1.3  We will endeavour to encourage perspective by including as many current references on a topic as is reasonable. This will usually be done by URL links.

1.4 Journalists are expected to declare conflict of interest at editorial meetings when the daily news agenda is being discussed. 

1.5  Try always to tell all sides of the story when reporting on disputes.  In such cases, reasonable steps should be taken to contact adversely named parties. Declaration of the same will be made if the journalist is unsuccessful in making contact.

1.6 Journalists should rely only on credible sources. This will be discussed at daily  editorial meeting with the chief of staff.

1.7  Direct quotations should not be altered. If they include offensive remarks or are defamatory, they should be clarified with the source, put into indirect quotes, or left out.

1.8  Journalists will generally access photos that are publicly released, credit photos that have a source and where appropriate and otherwise pay for copyright.  

1.9 All third-party publications referenced to in our EDMs will be acknowledged. In these cases, the URL link will be to the third-party website. Editorial originating from third-party publishers that are not press releases or sourced as publicly released material, will not be carried on our website, unless under permission.

1.10  Generally, the chief of staff should be consulted before quotes are taken from  Social Media. These can be highly contextualised and should be confirmed with the source if possible. 

2.0 Mistakes

2.1 Please refer to the complaints handling procedures.

2.2 Journalists are self-regulating and are expected to approach the chief of staff in any circumstance where they need direction and clarification. Where needed, corrections will be published to the same audience at a similar time of day on the same platform.

2.3 Where appropriate, an adjudication should be published in accordance with the publishers-Council agreement as detailed in the Australian Press Council Constitution.

3.0 Misrepresentation

3.1 No journalist will be asked to use false names in the execution of their work. Any exceptions should be referred to the managing editor for clarification.

3.2 Employees should not try to obtain information, photographs or video by deception.

4.0 Covert activities

4.1 Covert activities are generally considered to be beyond the staffing capacity of the current size of the business. 

4.2 Sources should be given the option to contact journalists from other organisations. 

5.0 Confidential sources

5.1 Confidential sources will be respected.

5.2 Journalists will not be asked to reveal confidential sources. However, the chief of staff is the final arbiter when it comes to publishing a story.

5.3 It needs to be reinforced that confidentiality of sources is a privilege not protected by law. Journalists may be held in contempt if ordered by a Judge to name their source. There are penalties involved.

6.0 Payment for information

6.1 Payment will not be made for interviews or information.

7.0 Discrimination

7.1 Do not make pejorative reference to a person’s race, nationality, colour, religion, marital status, sex, sexual preferences, or physical or mental illness or disability. No details of a person’s race, nationality, colour, religion, marital status, sex, sexual preferences, or physical or mental illness or disability should be included in a report unless they are relevant.

8.0 Conflict of interest

8.1 Northern PR Services respects right of association though staff must make all attempts to avoid potential conflicts of interest with their employment.

8.2 Employees must declare potential personal conflicts of interest to the managing editor or chief of staff.

8.3 Any employee wishing to perform paid or unpaid work for a rival media outlet must receive written approval in advance from the managing editor.

9.0 Financial Reporting 

9.1  There are legal and ethical consequences involving the reporting of financial information.

9.2 Potential conflicts of interest involving financial information should be referred to the chief of staff or managing editor.

10.0 Travel

10.1 All travel is to be signed off by the managing editor.

10.2 The business is sometimes offered travel and accommodation to cover mining and other operations in remote parts of the state. Coverage resulting from that travel will must include a declaration of the sponsorship source.

10.3 The travel offer should come from the source in all circumstances. It is not appropriate for staff to solicit travel, accommodation and meals.

10.4 Staff need to present a risk evaluation report before travelling. It will be proportional to the extent of travel. In remote areas, for example, a travel plan will be necessary and will include available opportunities for fuel, food and rest. The reporter needs to signal a start and arrival time and make contact via email or text on start and completion. In some cases, it will be necessary to contact local police and inform them of plans. 

11.0 Personal gain, gifts

11.1  Staff and contractors representing Northern PR Services must not request or accept any entertainment or inducements outside the normal scope of business hospitality.

11.2 Money and bribes are to be immediately rejected and the chief of staff informed.

11.4 Employees must never solicit or request any gift or benefit for themselves or anyone else in connection with their employment.

11.5 Northern PR Services staff must never use their employment status as a means of gaining any form of leverage for commercial or personal gain. 

11.6 Employees must not accept gifts above a nominal value of $100. Exceptions, including multiple gifts from the same organisation at that nominal value, will be approved by the managing editor.

11.7 Meetings involving food and beverage will be recorded for tax and reimbursement purposes. The identity of participants will be recorded against an outcome e.g. sales and copy development or industry briefing.

11.8 Breeches of this policy will result in performance management and/or dismissal if found to be of a serious nature. 

12.0 Confidential Information

12.1 Aspects of the operations of Northern PR Services need to be kept confidential. This includes financial information and personal information including performance reviews.

13.0 Interviews/requests for information or documentation in third party litigation

13.1 Northern PR Services will co-operate with state and federal police in their investigations. All requests are to be authorised by the managing editor.

13.2 Journalists are occasionally asked to speak at seminars and conferences and to the media. All requests need to be referred to the chief of staff for permission.

14.0 Privacy

14.1 Northern PR Services activities align to the Privacy Act 1988.

14.2 We will apply intense scrutiny where it is in the public interest.

14.2 Northern PR Services policies also align to laws covering defamation and contempt as they apply, for example, in family law cases.

15.0 Harassment

15.1 It is our policy that there are few if any good reasons for harassment. This includes phoning or pursuit or in the taking of audio or visual material.

15.2 A source’s right to privacy on their personal property will be respected. This applies to interviews as well as photographs. 

16.0 Grief and distress

16.1 We will respect the wishes of the bereaved or grieving. In the first instance, reporting should be done through official channels including police, ambulance and medical services. It will be up to the chief of staff whether the story warrants contacting friends or relatives.

17.0 Hospitals, other facilities

17.1  Permission must be sought before entering public, private or religious institutions. In the first instance, the proposed approach seek needs to go through the chief of staff.

18.0 Children

18.3  We rarely need comment from children and never approach them without parental authority. A school’s permission may also be needed in certain circumstances.

19.0 Suicide

19.1 While we do not report on suicides as they occur, we may report on a death that the coroner ultimately decides was suicide. 

19.2 If we are told ‘off the record’ that the fatality was the result of suicide, we do not report on it. If we suspect it was the case, we ask the question off the record.

19.3 We will report on a coroner’s finding on the circumstances surrounding suicide and the built environment, suicide and a link to drugs or other circumstances where it is in the public interest.

19.4 The chief of staff needs to be briefed in all circumstances.

20.0 Illegal drugs

20.1 Only at the request of authorities and in instances of public interest will we report on drug manufacture details of distribution or descriptions of the use of other harmful substances. 

20.0 Weapons and threats

20.1 Do not report threats to use bombs or other weapons or threats of extortion unless public interest justifies it, or at an authorities’ request or when it is necessary to explain public disruption. 

20.2 Do not report details of the manufacture or methods of using explosives, ammunition, firearms, fireworks, crossbows, booby traps or any potentially lethal device unless public interest justifies it, or when the authorities request you to do so.

20.0 Photographic enhancement and manipulation policy

20.1 We alter photographs only where it is in the interests of accuracy. 

20.2 In those circumstances, it will be explained in the caption that the photograph was enhanced. If the alteration was not obvious, like highlighting a face in a group, we include why.

20.4 Any image that has had the subject altered or added to should be clearly acknowledged in the caption as “digitally altered image”.

20.5 We do not have a facility to sell photographs.

22.0 Other Obligations

22.1 Staff are required to maintain the reputation of Northern PR Services. 

22.2 They are required to co-operate, without divulging sources, for the best editorial outcomes and seek the help of senior journalists.

22.3 They should be familiar with peak body the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance and are encouraged to support the same.

22.4 All staff are required to present themselves appropriately when representing Northern PR Services both in the office and to the public. 

23.0 Breaches of policy

23.1 Complaints involving alleged breaches of this policy will be investigated by the Managing Editor. Staff are given three performance reviews in twelve months before being terminated from employment. 

23.2 In more extreme circumstances where the reputation of the business is severely impinged, the individual will be placed on leave and asked not to publish under our standard. This would be pending a review of the circumstances.

23.3 In cases involving criminal neglect, staff will be terminated immediately.

(AUSTRALIAN PRESS COUNCIL)

Statements of Principles

The Council’s Statements of Principles are binding on all publications which are subject to its jurisdiction. They Council’s Standards of Practice relating to print and online publishing are contained in:

  • the Statement of General Principles; and
  • the Statement of Privacy Principles.
     

The Statements of Principles are interpreted and applied to by the Council responding to particular complaints. Along with the Specific Standards, they form the Council’s Standards of Practice.

The Statement of General Principles

THE FOLLOWING GENERAL PRINCIPLES APPLY TO MATERIAL PUBLISHED ON OR AFTER 1 AUGUST 2014.

Publications are free to publish as they wish by reporting facts and expressing opinions, provided they take reasonable steps to comply with the following Principles and the Council’s other Standards of Practice:

Accuracy and clarity

1. Ensure that factual material in news reports and elsewhere is accurate and not misleading, and is distinguishable from other material such as opinion.

2. Provide a correction or other adequate remedial action if published material is significantly inaccurate or misleading.

Fairness and balance

3. Ensure that factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance, and that writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts.

4. Ensure that where material refers adversely to a person, a fair opportunity is given for subsequent publication of a reply if that is reasonably necessary to address a possible breach of General Principle 3.

Privacy and avoidance of harm

5. Avoid intruding on a person’s reasonable expectations of privacy, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest. 

6. Avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health or safety, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.

Integrity and transparency

7. Avoid publishing material which has been gathered by deceptive or unfair means, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest. 

8. Ensure that conflicts of interests are avoided or adequately disclosed, and that they do not influence published material.

Click here for a printable copy of the current Statement of General Principles.

Click here for a copy of the General Principles in Mandarin Chinese.

For the General Principles that applied to material published before August 2014, click here.


The Statement of Privacy Principles

These cover the following areas:

  • Collection of personal information
  • Use and disclosure of personal information
  • Quality of personal information
  • Security of personal information
  • Anonymity of sources
  • Correction, fairness and balance
  • Sensitive personal information

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