EDITORIAL POLICY GUIDELINES & OBJECTIVES
The character and philosophy of the Kaliti Press news and information outlets are shaped by the editorial guidelines and objectives outlined below. These have been discussed and adopted by the team and comprise the broad rules governing all editorial content in our medium, Kaliti Press.
Divided into four parts, they deal with broad and specific issues of policy, professional, operational and administrative guidelines as well as journalistic conduct in the sourcing and compilation of news, features, documentaries as well as editorials and commentaries.
While placing obligations on the team and every member of the editorial staff, they require the unmitigated personal and philosophical commitment of all editorial executives and staff.
Kaliti Press believes its news and information outlets have a vital role to play in the development of Ethiopia. This belief is based on the acknowledged responsibilities and influential power of a free Press in a modern society.
Kality Press beliefs that: Freedoms of Speech and of the Press are basic elements of any democracy or an emerging democracy. A free, independent Press is among the most important institutions in a democratic country.
As a social institution, the Press discharges crucial duties by carrying information, debates, analytical and critical comments on society. The Press is, therefore, particularly responsible for allowing different views to be expressed.
- Kaliti Press’s news and information outlets must remain independent of vested interests or external influences. Its news and information outlets are committed to being comprehensive and accurate in content and their commentaries fair and considered. Their constant objective is to ascertain and verify the truth.
- Veracity and accuracy in reporting are an integral part of editorial policy and editors will only publish that which they believe to be true, fair and accurate. Every effort will be made to ascertain the factual accuracy of articles through, cross-checking of facts and use of tape-recorders or other recording devices.
- All editorial content will be selected for its natural news value and not to appease, supplement or respond to political, commercial or any other interests. Editors and journalists must test the value of each story, report or article by interrogating the extent to which it satisfies the “so what?” element.
- Kaliti Press will differentiate clearly between views and opinion on the one hand and news and reportage on the other.
Kaliti Press’s news and information outlets will be authoritative without being didactic; they will be intelligent and broad in their coverage. They will encourage the intelligent expression of African thought and perspectives by way of regular contributions from outsiders able to offer unique professional expertise and reasoned diverse opinions on topical issues about the continent. They will avoid generalisations where the specific is more accurately appropriate. By their coverage and style, they will maintain a national and international flavor.
A constant search is required for higher literary, fluency and grammatical standards among editorial staff, pre-eminently in the pursuit of legibility, comprehension, accuracy and balance. Specific consideration is given in this area to the question of phrasing of headlines and captions. Constant care will be taken to ensure that headlines accurately reflect the theme and tone of the article they are based on.
Kaliti Press is committed to training and developing its editorial staff to internationally recognized best practice standards. Staff recruitment is, therefore, rigorous, the policy being to seek qualified journalists or trainees of proven quality with good educational and professional attainments, who will undergo structured training programmes, including, whenever possible, exposure overseas.
(A) EDITORIAL OBJECTIVES
- It is the Kaliti Press’s objective to make balance, credibility and presentation with leading media platforms in Ethiopia media environment. In this regard, it will provide the expertise necessary for a general and marked uplift in professional skills and standards.
- Our media platforms will avoid such “non-news” content as empty statements of a general nature, occasions or releases where publicity for individuals, groups or organizations is the sole dominant objective.
- Our news website must reflect a bias against routine assignments and political or charitable functions that are known to have little or no news value. The website will be dominated by evidence of enterprising news management.
- News stories which come from sources outside Kaliti Press will not be accepted at their face value. Background information, names, ages, titles, contrary points of view (if appropriate) will be thoroughly ascertained before a story is submitted for publication. Where further depth is required – either explanation or history – this will always be provided so that news coverage is never untruthful, willfully misleading, superficial, unbalanced or incomplete. In this regard, the library and the Internet facilities will be used extensively and intelligently.
- Specialized language and expressions (e.g. such as in medicine, economics, religion, court cases) must be accurately and carefully interpreted into English and Amharic usage.
- Normally, lists of names at official functions should be eliminated from the text of stories.
- Stories must concentrate on events themselves, not on the names of officials associated with them. A magistrate’s name and title, for example, should not be published unless his/her actions, remarks or other involvement are pertinent to the case or the story.
- Indisputable and straightforward facts should not be attributed to spokespersons. Indirect speech will not be attributed, sentence-by-sentence, to the speaker. One attribution should cover several paragraphs, provided the correct tense is used.
- Outdated clichés will not be used.
- Acceptable articles will include topical world backgrounders, human-interest features of special appeal to the readership and those with particular relevance to East Africa.
- Editors must make every effort to avoid material that is vulgar or tasteless. Such content as irresponsible celebrity gossip, salacious writing or stories has no place in any of our platforms and only takes up valuable space that could be better dedicated to more edifying issues.
- Public relations material, both written and pictorial, must be used judiciously. This should not, however, prevent the use of stills in picture reviews, company results and other Press releases where such material concerns topics of genuine public interest. All stories based on PR material so used will, however, be re-written in the news style of Kaliti Press, any self-indulgence removed and its inclusions judged solely on its news value. Special care will be taken, however, not to alter or misrepresent the essential factual content of the PR communication.
- Columnists and commentators (on staff or outside) should always be identified not just by name, but also by affiliation.
- Kaliti Press will practice issue-based as opposed to excessive or continuous personality-based journalism that tends to create an impression that the issues are driven by personal agenda and vendetta and in the process eschews journalism that is based on un attributable and unsubstantiated rumor and gossip in relation to public figures.
- While recognising the fact that as individuals, journalists would ordinarily have their own political views and/or political party affiliations or religious affiliations, journalists working for the website are expected to subordinate their individual political or religious views and to remain apolitical and neutral on religious matters in the course of discharging their official duties so as not to allow their political or religious affiliations or views to influence their editorial judgment.
- Journalists should regularly refer to these guidelines to assist them in structuring their writing, production and presentation to the required standard. Performance will be judged on their ability to interpret and implement these guidelines.
ETHICAL PRINCIPLES: CODE OF CONDUCT AND ETHICS FOR NMG JOURNALISTS
The following code is intended as a guide for everyone working for the Kaliti Press is based on the premise that all journalists have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. It is founded on the individual’s fundamental right to be informed and to freely receive and disseminate information.
Accuracy and fairness
- The fundamental objective of a journalist is to report fairly, accurately and without bias on matters of public interest. All sides of a story should be reported. It is important to obtain comments from anyone mentioned in an unfavourable context.
- Whenever it is recognised that an inaccurate, misleading or distorted report has been published, it should be corrected promptly. Corrections should report the correct information and not restate the error except when clarity demands. Ideally, corrections should be made in a regular format and similar position as promptly as possible after the error has been detected.
Unnamed sources should not be used unless the pursuit of truth will best be served by not naming the source or in the event the source requests his/her anonymity to be respected. When material is used in a report from sources other than the reporter’s, these sources should be indicated in the story. If unnamed sources are quoted, the article should indicate the reason why the source did not want to be disclosed.
In circumstances where complete confidentiality is assumed as a condition of obtaining the story, that situation needs to be respected and considered according to the existing legal framework. In general, journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.
Obscenity, taste and tone in reporting
The media should not publish anything that is obscene, vulgar or offensive to public good taste. A story, photograph or drawing/cartoon of questionable taste should have significant news value to justify its usage.
Generally, what is in good taste is to be determined by the prevailing social norms. But the following basic tests should be applied.
- Is the depiction of a particular scene and the language used likely to be regarded as filthy, revolting, repugnant, dirty or lewd?
- With regards to pictures, the following should offer guidelines:
(a) Is it vulgar and indecent?
(b) Is it mere pornography’?
(c) Is its publication meant merely to make money by titillating the sexual feelings of adolescents and adults among whom it is intended to circulate? In other words, does it constitute an “unwholesome exploitation” of sex for the sake of money?
(d) Is it invasive of anyone’s privacy? If this is the case, a further question should then be asked as to whether the use of any such photo is nonetheless justified by a clear and indisputable public interest in doing so.
Using someone else’s work without attribution – whether deliberately or thoughtlessly – is a serious ethical breach. However, borrowing ideas from elsewhere is considered fair journalistic practice so long as the source is acknowledged.
Words directly quoted from sources other than the writer’s own reporting should be attributed. In general, when other work is used as the source of ideas or stylistic inspiration, the final result must be clearly different and distinguishable as the original work of the reporter.
In general, the media should avoid prejudicial or pejorative references to a person’s race, tribe, clan, religion, sex or sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness, handicap or political orientation. These details should be eschewed unless they are germane to the story. Everyone should be accorded equal treatment as news subjects or sources and journalists should not deliberately deny the right of any group to exposure in the media.
The public’s right to know often needs to be weighed vis-à-vis the privacy rights of people in the news. Intrusion and inquiries into an individual’s private life without the person’s consent are not generally acceptable unless public interest is indisputably involved. Public interest must itself be legitimate and not merely based upon prurient or morbid curiosity. Things concerning a person’s home, family, religion, tribe, health, sexuality or sexual orientation, personal life and private affairs are covered by the concept of privacy excepting where these impinge or can reasonably be presumed to impinge upon the public wellbeing.
Ethnic disputes/clashes/conflict interstate conflicts
News, views or comments relating to ethnic or religious disputes/clashes/interstate conflicts should be published after proper verification of facts and presented with due caution, balance and restraint in a manner which is conducive to the creation of an atmosphere congenial to national harmony, reconciliation, amity and peace. Sensational, provocative and alarming headlines are to be avoided. News reports or commentaries should not be written or broadcast in a manner likely to inflame the passions, aggravate the tension or accentuate the strained relations between the parties concerned. Equally so, content with the potential to exacerbate communal animosity or national conflict should be avoided.
Headlines not to be sensationally provocative, and must justify the matter printed below them
In general, provocative and sensational headlines should be avoided; headings must reflect and justify the matter printed under them; headings containing allegations made in statements should either identify the body or the source making it within the same headline or at least carry quotation marks.
The editor shall assume responsibility for all matter, including advertisements, published in the website.
Use of pictures and names
As a general rule, the media should apply caution in the use of pictures and names and avoid publication or distribution where there is a possibility of harming the person(s) concerned unless there is a substantial public interest served by such use. There should be no identification of a person or persons in a photograph unless their identity is absolutely certain.