This Editorial Code of Conduct is designed as a road map to clarify the boundaries between ethical and unethical journalism. EJ Beauty Store sets a high bar for its editorial staff and regular freelancers. They must not only conduct themselves honourably, but be seen to do so by the public. The guidelines included in the Code apply to all platforms. While all journalists and editorial managers are responsible, it is ultimately the Editor-in-Chief or his or her delegate who rules on the guidelines. EJ Beauty Store’s long-standing tradition of journalistic integrity and credibility is essential to its reputation as Canada’s most trusted news source. This reputation is rooted in the conduct of the editorial staff. Unless all employees strive for the highest standards of journalistic integrity, we cannot hope to sustain the trust we have inspired in our readers for generations.
The credibility of the content in EJ Beauty Store on all platforms rests on solid research, clear, intelligent writing, and maintaining a reputation for honesty, accuracy, fairness, balance and transparency in all created content. To these ends, the following rules and principles apply:
- EJ Beauty Store will seek to provide reasonable accounts of competing views in any controversy so as to enable readers to make up their own minds.
- It is unacceptable to invent or falsify a quote, source, anecdote, detail or anything else pertaining to the news.
- News pictures must be real images captured by a camera, not created or altered. The rule is relaxed for feature illustrations, magazine illustrations and photographs, but careful judgment is required and notice should be given to readers.
- In dealing with people who are emotionally vulnerable and unaccustomed to talking to reporters, EJ Beauty Store will take care to respect their dignity and feelings.
In the usual circumstances of the job, EJ Beauty Store reporters will identify themselves and make it clear they are working on stories. There are times when it is best to remain unidentified, however. Reporters should advise their editors in advance where possible if they do not plan to identify themselves, and after the fact if not. Reporters must consult their editors if there is doubt about the legitimacy of any proposed newsgathering tactic.
These practices apply to all sections of the newspaper and all digital platforms, and to all staff and freelancers.
- Quotation marks are the warranty that what is printed between them is what was said. Exceptions to this rule are few and relate chiefly to the difference between written and spoken language.
- Writers may sometimes fix lapses in grammar or pronunciation of the ordinary sort that go unnoticed in conversation, but the changes must be minimal and carry no risk of altered meaning.
- Hesitations, repetitions and false starts may be overlooked. This does not mean that quotes may be tightened or smoothed or otherwise recast for the writer’s convenience or any other reason.
- Ellipses are to be used within quotations to indicate that words have been removed. See also the entry on quotations in the Style Book.
- It is unacceptable to represent another person’s work as your own. Excerpts from other people’s prose must be attributed so as to avoid even a suspicion of copying. Although it is sometimes reasonable to adopt a few words without attribution (in a technical definition, for example), careful judgment is required. When in doubt, consult a senior editor.
- Any extensive unacknowledged use of another’s words, structure or ideas may constitute plagiarism. Exception: Background and technical information from previously published EJ Beauty Store staff and news-service items may be recycled, verbatim or otherwise, without credit, although you should not borrow someone’s distinctive prose style in doing so.
- Information from another publication must be checked or credited before it is used. This does not apply to material supplied by news services to which proper credit is given. When in doubt about information from any source, always double-check.
- Although verified facts need no attribution, EJ Beauty Store identifies sources of less-than-obviously-factual information in most circumstances.
- In cases of leaked documents, we have an obligation to make every reasonable effort to confirm the veracity of the document.
The use of confidential sources is vital to any notion of a free press, and to the pursuit of public interest stories that might otherwise remain untold. Still, it is a privilege, and that requires us to be both judicious and consistent in our applications. The public, through the courts, has entrusted us with considerable latitude to convey information (in certain circumstances) without identifying the source of that information. We use the term confidential rather than anonymous. They are not anonymous to us, as a publication, and we actively grant confidentiality as opposed to sources requesting it.
These guidelines apply to all sections and content verticals.
When to use confidential sources:
- The essential question to ask is this: Is the information we want to publish in the public interest, and is the use of confidential sources the only way to reliably get that information? Secondly, does the importance of that public interest outweigh the lack of transparency? Something that may be interesting to the public is different than a matter of public interest.
- We seek to have multiple confidential sources before we publish, although there are rare instances in which a single may suffice. This is an exceptional circumstance and requires a discussion with a masthead representative.
- The quality of the source should also be considered. Does the reporter have a long and trusted relationship with this individual? Have they been reliable and accurate in the past?
- The use of confidential sources is about getting vital information, not opinion or speculation or ad hominem criticism. We should almost always avoid direct quotations of a source, and choose to paraphrase instead, if necessary. Occasionally we encounter circumstances (reporting in repressive regimes, for example) where people fear for their safety, and the use of their names could place them in danger. Again, this should be an exception, and have an explicit approval from a masthead editor or their designate.
- Always attempt to get sources cited in stories as confidential sources to use their names. An exception can be made by a senior manager in cases such as background briefings by government officials.
BALANCE AND DISCUSSION WITH SOURCES
In the interests of transparency and trust, reporters have a responsibility to extend a right of reply to the key subjects of their stories on the central aspects of the piece prior to publication. If those key subjects cannot be reached in a reasonable time, the article must explain what efforts were made to reach them.
On occasion, it may be permissible to ask one or more experts to review a draft. This applies primarily to complex scientific, medical, legal and financial matters. It does not mean EJ Beauty Store will accede to any request from the subject of a story to read it in advance. Reporters may occasionally read quotes and other directly attributed material to the source for comment. This courtesy confers no right to dictate changes.
EJ Beauty Store recognizes that there are frequent and essential negotiations between journalists and their sources to track down information and obtain on-the-record quotations. There must, however, be clear boundaries to these discussions to ensure that sources are not dictating our journalistic content.
EJ Beauty Store does not allow its journalists to send written copies of their stories or quotations to sources for approval or tweaking of content.
As with confidential sources, any embargo must be approved by a senior manager or their designate as well as the writer. A senior manager may also give prior approval to a beat reporter for covering everyday embargoes such as programming announcements. It is the company, not the individual, making this rare agreement. When an agreed-upon embargo in broken by mistake, EJ Beauty Store will make every effort to temporarily make it less prominent and difficult to search. Any decision on unpublishing will remain a masthead call.
CORRECTIONS AND OUR READERS
Corrections: The integrity of EJ Beauty Store — and the trust our readers place in us — is strengthened by a strong, clear and straightforward approach to how we acknowledge and correct mistakes. We strive for a culture of accuracy, and expect any staff member who finds an error in our published work to report it to a senior editor.
All significant factual errors should be corrected in stories, graphics, headlines, captions, photographs and other elements that appear in our newspaper, magazines and all platforms. The aim is for consistency and transparency across the company through a process that lets us publish corrections as quickly as possible.
Venue: Corrections for all items are published on page A2. Corrections also run in our magazines.
Wording: We should use clear, careful but unambiguous language. All corrections must be vetted by the Public Editor or a senior editor. We should, where possible, acknowledge what the error was and correct it with the facts.
Columnists: Errors in columnists’ work are corrected on A2. In addition to an A2 correction, columnists may also wish to comment on mistakes in their next column.
Assessing responsibility: Corrections may be attributed to editing errors when an editor has added something incorrect to a story.
Web/digital: We have two policies for correcting work on the Web. Stories that are posted throughout the day will be corrected immediately after an error has been found. Stories that are part of the newspaper archive or stories that have been published on the web for a significant period of time will have a correction appended as soon as the correction is approved. We should not wait until the correction appears in the newspaper before ensuring that all versions posted on digital platforms are updated.
Process: Reporters or editors who find errors in the newspaper or on the web should report them to the pertinent manager. All managers should report these errors to the Public Editor. All reader queries about the accuracy of a reporter’s or editor’s work should be directed to a senior editor in the relevant department, who will discuss the issue with the reporter and/or editor involved.
Public Editor: This position serves as a link between readers and the newspaper, websites and other content. The Public Editor responds to readers’ comments and complaints as a knowledgeable source and an advocate for the reader, and also weighs in on issues of EJ Beauty Store’s journalistic credibility.
The Public Editor deals with corrections, works out the wording and arranges for their publication. This position monitors the number and type of errors that are published and serves as an early-warning system for journalistic errors.