EDITORIAL POLICY & CODE OF ETHICS
● CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
The Nigerian Constitution accords all citizens the right to form and express opinion. This fundamental assurance allows citizens to generate, adopt and impart opinions.
Section 22 of the Constitution says: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media will at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”
Against this backdrop, the press will have the right to research and propagate information freely to the citizens; while being protected in the course of this duty.
At Peoples Gazette, proprietors, editors and reporters will exercise these constitutional rights within the boundary of publishing only factual and accurate information that will help the citizens reach an informed and responsible judgment on democratic process and other public matters.
1. EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE
1.1 The Gazette will be loyal only to the cause that advances the collective interest of all
Nigerians, including the country’s unity, economic prosperity and security.
1.2 No individual, group of individuals or organisation will be allowed to use the newspaper to pursue an end that undermines or contradicts the collective interest of Nigerians.
1.3 The Gazette will not be persuaded by any religious, ethnic, tribal, political or economic sentiments. Instead, the newspaper will at all times see all entities as equal.
2. REPORTING NEWS
2.1 The Gazette will approach all news fairly, honestly, and factually.
2.2 News will be adequately contextualised and balanced. Facts will not be embellished and/or distorted, misinterpreted, misrepresented, exaggerated or sensationalised, and such behaviour will have no place in our organisation.
2.3 All sides of a news item, especially critical reportage, will always be given reasonably sufficient notice in advance of going to press.
2.4 Except on rare occasions of strong and overarching public interest, the Gazette will not publish information obtained without due transparency to the subject(s) of a story.
2.5 Except where it is absolutely necessary to do so, the Gazette will at all times seek to de-emphasise the ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, race, social, economic or status, disability, etc, of the subject(s) of a story.
3. INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
3.1 The Gazette will channel resources to vigorously pursue investigative journalism because of its proven ability to check injustice, corruption and abuse of power, and because it is also a proven tool for imposing transparency and accountability in the society.
4. FACT VS OPINION
4.1 The Gazette will at all times clearly distinguish between fact and opinion articles. Procedurally, a factual article will be apparently so and should be capable of withstanding elaborate scrutiny.
4.2 An opinion article will equally contain some factual elements and not be based on pure fabrication or any figment of a writer’s imagination.
4.3 Satires will be thus labelled.
4.4 On the other hand, the Gazette journalists will at all times ensure that their articles are devoid of any form of opinion or bias.
4.5 Any news analysis will contain more facts than viewpoints.
5.1 The Gazette will from time to time participate in matters of societal interest, especially against unbridled corruption, police and military brutality, terrorism and sexual and gender-based violence.
5.2 All campaigns will be pursued based on facts and without contortion or omission.
5.3 In the form of editorials, the Gazette will be entitled to weigh in on national issues by analyzing public policies and offering alternative ideas in a fair, constructive, and honest manner.
6.1 News articles, multimedia or drawings on matters involving suicide, death, nudity, lunacy or obscenity will be approached with sufficient sensitivity and candour.
6.2 Reporters will pursue comments or other enquiries with sympathy and open-mindedness.
7.1 The Gazette journalists will not ordinarily interview or film children under the age of 18 without the consent of a parent or guardian.
7.2 Except where overriding public interest is readily apparent, children will not be interviewed or photographed at school, parks or other public facilities without the awareness and permission of authorities in charge.
7.3 The Gazette will not publish the names, addresses or other identifying details of a child involved in matters of sexual exploitation, trafficking and abuse unless where otherwise ruled by judicial authorities or for the purpose of seeking justice.
8. RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARASSMENT VICTIMS
8.1 The Gazette will refrain from publishing the identity and image of victims of rape and other forms of sexual or gender-based violence, except where consent is given.
8.2 But the identity of convicted rapists and perpetrators of sexual or gender-based violence will receive no protection from the Gazette.
8.3 All editorial staff members will be regularly trained on gender issues, gender sensitivity and analysis for public good.
8.4 We are committed to building gender awareness in story writing and ensuring criteria in developing partnership strategies and relationships.
9. PRIVACY VS PUBLIC INTEREST
9.1 The Gazette will at all times exhibit considerable diligence and decency on issues around the privacy of all citizens, except where otherwise dictated by strident public interest.
9.2 The Gazette considers a publication to be in public interest where such a story leads to exposure of violent crime or corrupt practices, especially in public service.
9.3 Issues bordering on public health and well-being are also considered to be in public interest and will take precedence over the privacy of an individual who poses a threat against them.
10. NEWS GATHERING AND ANONYMOUS SOURCES
10.1 The Gazette journalists are prohibited from gathering news by way of intimidation or duress.
10.2 Unless their queries are in the public interest, our journalists will not film citizens on private property without their express awareness and permission.
10.3 The Gazette journalists will be discouraged from harassing sources by telephone, e-mail, social media or pestering individuals who had previously elected not to be interviewed over a matter.
10.4 The Gazette journalists will at all times seek to openly identify sources for a news story because doing so often bolsters the credibility and sturdiness of a news article.
10.5 However, the Gazette recognises that there are often cases in which the only way to get the facts of a matter is from individuals who would not want to be publicly identified either
for fear of backlash or just out of sheer intent on living quietly away from the spotlight. Editors will exercise case-by-case discretion in such situations.
10.6 Where an Editor is satisfied that anonymity should be granted to a news source, the Gazette journalists will be duty-bound to ensure absolute and permanent protection of such a confidential source.
10.7 For additional fact-finding, an Editor may ask to know the identity of an anonymous source from a reporter, and the source should be promptly and adequately informed on the necessity of such request and reassured of total confidentiality.
11.1 The Gazette will primarily prohibit its journalists from reporting or providing news material to other organisations considered to be in competition with the Gazette.
11.2 But where a local or international media outlet requires the service of any of our journalists, the journalist(s) concerned will discuss the matter first with an Editor or supervisor.
11.3 The Gazette will encourage equitable gender balance in the hiring of freelance journalists, opinion writers and digital content creators.
12. BROWN ENVELOPES AND GIFTS
12.1 The Gazette journalists are prohibited from accepting bribes (otherwise known as brown envelopes) from news sources or organisations for the purpose of writing a story or getting a mention in our publication.
12.2 The Gazette journalists are strongly encouraged to reject gifts from newsmakers or organisations. But where such gifts are imposed on a reporter because their rejection could be seen as culturally inappropriate, the reporter must declare such gifts to an Editor or any other senior editorial staff member.
12.3 The Gazette will not demand or receive any gratification for news coverage from news sources.
12.4 The Gazette journalists are, however, allowed to receive gifts not exceeding ₦10,000 in value. Cash gifts will not be accepted under any circumstances.
12.5 Our journalists are also free to participate in a lottery, bonanza or special discounts programme that is available to the general public.
13. ERRONEOUS PUBLICATION
13.1 The Gazette will render retraction for publishing a news story, opinion or advertorial that is found to be dangerous or false.
13.2 An explanation or apology will be published in a prominent part of our website once an error has been admitted.
13.3 A considerable right of reply to erroneous or unfairly harmful articles will be given to the subject(s) of such erroneous or unfairly harmful articles as may be decided by the Editor.
14. SOCIAL MEDIA
14.1 The Gazette encourages its journalists to have a social media presence, and prominently so if individually comfortable.
14.2 Reporters are encouraged to use their social media presence to share their stories or those of their colleagues within and outside of the Gazette, engage readers and cultivate relationships with sources.
14.3 But reporters are advised to refrain from getting involved in partisan and combative discussions on social media.
14.4 We encourage our journalists to express themselves freely, but we also trust them to manage their social media responsibly and do so in a way that preserves —at minimum— the reputation of our newspaper.
14.5 For example, we believe our journalists will avoid making derogatory remarks or stereotypes that cast aspersion on individuals based on their ethnic, religious or gender identity.
15. OTHER MEDIA ORGANISATIONS
15.1 The Gazette will not engage in confrontation against other media organisations.
15.2 The Gazette will always appreciate intellectual property rights by crediting original sources of a news material or multimedia. Staff members will not be allowed to lift facts or other material from another publication unless it is adequately disclosed.
15.3 Plagiarism will not be excused in any way, shape or form. Any act of plagiarism will elicit stringent disciplinary measures from the management.
15.4 The Gazette will not prioritise publishing denials of a story that appeared in a rival publication; except where our reporters established that the story was false and the outlet concerned appeared reluctant to append a clarification or retraction.
16.1 The Peoples’ Gazette Limited will permanently own all intellectual property rights to content submitted by its journalists or commissioned contributors and published in whatever format.
17. DIGITAL ADVERTISING
17.1 The Gazette recognises that top-rated journalism such as ours comes at a cost. Therefore, it is important to accept business promotions, banners and other commercial content for sustainability.
17.2 However, such commercial materials will undergo extensive scrutiny to ensure conformity to our editorial standards prior to publication.
17.3 The Gazette may publish sponsored content that is not typically newsworthy, if our editors determine that the content, as a whole, is useful and unlikely to cause harm to our readers.
17.4 The protracted revenue challenges confronting media organisations across the world have forced some publications to adopt a paywall, while many others now publish commercial content without disclosing this status to readers — despite its inherent ethical questions. The Gazette must operate in this tough business climate.
17.5 Still, we have reflected on the prevailing economic situation of the country and concluded that our purpose of informing the citizenry could be defeated if we require a subscription fee that a majority of our readers cannot afford.
17.6 Therefore, the Gazette has resolved to append a note at the top or below an article or multimedia that emanates from our digital advertising department. This would allow the Gazette to publish sponsored content without necessarily labelling it in the headline.
18.1 The Gazette will regularly publish multimedia contents, including but not limited to photos and videos taken by our reporters or sourced from social media or elsewhere on the Internet. In publishing any multimedia content, staff members will refrain from gross manipulation of such material.
18.2 Only a simple enhancement procedure will be carried out on a video or image, and a material altered for clarity would be labelled as such.
19.1 We are committed to publishing opinions, analyses and features that are as diverse and inclusive as possible. However, we encourage our contributors to refrain from submitting articles that explicitly express discrimination or antagonism on the basis of sex, ethnicity, religion, race, sexual orientation, disability, social status or economic status.
19.2 Readers should be aware that commentaries are solely the responsibility of their respective authors.
20. ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION
The Managing Editor shall have the power to constitute a panel of inquiry into allegations of a breach of editorial guidelines against members of staff.
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