The purpose of this document is to outline the ethical and editorial standards expected of our journalism. It provides a set of policies for the day-to-day conduct of our work and to promote excellence.
Our reporters, editors, and video producers must uphold the highest editorial standards in their pursuit of truth to ensure that we maintain the special bond of trust we have with our audiences. Our reputation is our most valuable asset.
Accuracy, updating and error correction
Our writers are responsible for the accuracy of their published output regardless of format and distribution platform, but everyone who touches the copy during editing shares in that responsibility.
Information must be verified before publication, using original sources where possible. Neither the need for fast turnarounds nor format is an excuse for inaccuracy. In reality, we are always up against deadlines, and new information may become available, but errors of omission, partial truths and missing context dent our credibility.
Best practice is to update and, where necessary, correct information throughout the life of a story, and to be clear about which is which.
Post-publication, we must correct our errors, large or small, as soon as we become aware of them. Wording, styling and responsibilities for making corrections, updates and clarifications should follow the most recent guidance in the Style Guide.
As a general rule, we will prefer not to publish information attributed to anonymous sources. Providing clear provenance for facts and quotations builds the trust of readers in the credibility of our reporting.
Anonymous tips and talking confidentially to sources will always be an essential part of reporting, but in published stories, sources will be granted anonymity only for specific and crucial reasons. There are times when anonymous sourcing is unavoidable, notably to prevent an individual from being put in harm’s way or losing their job were they to be identified.
Where the anonymous source is central to the story, those should have the approval of the writer’s editor-in-chief before publication. We should avoid completely anonymously sourced stories, except in the most exceptional cases, where the Editorial Director’s consent is required.
In all cases, the source should be known to the writer, the story’s editor, and legal counsel if necessary, and similarly, the terms on which the writer has granted their source anonymity.
Writers should always weigh sources’ motives before granting anonymity and be in explicit agreement with the source whether that person is talking off-the-record or on background. The risk is ever-present that a source who wants anonymity does so in pursuit of an agenda. We should be watchful that we are not inadvertently used for ill.
We should make every effort to confirm and corroborate information provided anonymously through public records or on-the-record sources. We should also give readers as much information as possible to judge the origin, reliability and motivations of our anonymous sources short of revealing the individual’s identity.
Once we have agreed to anonymity, we honor that commitment. We will also be transparent with readers as to why we made such a decision.
Conflicts of interest
We generate revenue from advertising. However, our editorial team is separate from the sales department which is managed externally and outsourced to a specialized agent. The only times where some overlap may exist are in executive and administrative positions for the purpose of business planning, but once again, this is entirely separate from editorial content.
We should pay our way when covering stories to avoid any suspicion of quid pro quo.
The intention of those providing trips and access is to secure favorable coverage. If junkets, press tickets, review or test materials, or travel are necessary for some stories, they must be treated for what they are—a necessary evil when access would otherwise be impossible or we would be disadvantaged in producing timely coverage compared to rivals—and appropriately disclosed to readers.
Under no circumstances should staff accept employment, compensation or in-kind gifts from any individual or organization that falls within that staff member’s area of coverage.
Before being commissioned, freelance contributors must sign our Independent Contractors Agreement.
They will be expected to comply with the same standards of journalistic best practice as employees when they are doing work for us in line with the Journalistic Integrity provisions of the Independent Contractors Agreement.
About Affiliate Commissions
Every time we link products to retailers in reviews, in our news coverage, or in the Product Finder section, we may receive a commission for sales generated from those links through affiliate programs. This was a somewhat controversial topic but most recently a well understood and generally accepted form of compensation.
Our editorial team does not deal with retailers or affiliate programs in any manner. When advertising is sold to any retailer, that’s taken care of by a different group of people. Furthermore, affiliate links are mostly automated through scripts and there is little human intervention in tracking those programs.
When we promote a certain product (via a positive review or news announcement) it is generated organically as a service to readers who may want to learn more or buy such product. In the specific scenario where we are promoting a product or service as a sale and where we may directly generate a commission (“deals”), you will find a disclaimer alongside this promotion every time.
We do not pay for interviews or documents. We do not promise favorable coverage in return for a source’s co-operation. We do not threaten uncooperative sources. We identify ourselves as journalists except in the rare cases where there is a clear public interest justification in failing to do so.
Do not submit questions in advance of an interview, except in the most general way. If notice of more specific questions is required, (this may occasionally be unavoidable in complex legal cases) your EiC’s approval is needed. Do not agree to sources reading stories pre-publication or having the right to quote approval. Our readers should be the first public audiences for our work.
Decisions about what we write about and how we undertake the work are made solely by our writers and editors. Advertisers have no sway over coverage. We will disclose any commercial relationships the company has that might appear to influence our coverage.
Readers must never wonder if we are telling them something because we were paid to do so rather than we think they should know. Nor should we be put off asking hard questions because we have created a business relationship with a source.
Compliance with these policies
Editorial management, editors-in-chief and legal counsel have helped draw up this document. These policies do not anticipate every situation that will arise in work as fast-changing and challenging as ours, nor can they provide infallible rules for the decisions editors and writers have to make hour by hour. But they do provide crucial guidelines for those occasions where we have difficult, sensitive, or uncommon decisions to make.
Wherever there may be differences of view over these policies’ application, the first step in resolving them will be through discussion with a supervisor or, when more appropriate, via other company policies designed to ensure a fair, equitable and co-operative workplace.
We believe that all editorial staff want to produce the best journalism they can for their audiences, and to that end that they will, as routine, exercise professional judgement in their daily work and dealings with readers, subjects, sources and colleagues. However, any lapses of judgement within the areas covered here or willful violation of their intent may be regarded as sufficiently serious to warrant disciplinary action, subject to any applicable terms of the collective bargaining agreement.