A Southam Newspaper
Telephone (403) 429-5100
[I was given this document (reproduced here by OCR, with a photocopy of its first page at bottom) by The Journal at my request in the early 1990s--FC]
CODE OF ETHICS
A good newspaper is fair, accurate, honest, thorough, responsible and independent. It is committed to freedom of speech and the pursuit of truth is its guiding principle.
The Journal and its staff must avoid practices that would conflict with the ability to report and present news in a fair and unbiased manner.
The following principles are designed to encourage the highest standards of ethical and professional behavior. No code of ethics can prejudge every situation, however, and common sense and good judgment are necessary in applying these ethical principles to the realities of the newspaper business.
TRUTH AND ACCURACY
The Journal will always guard against inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortion through emphasis or omission.
Our news stories and commentary must always be fair and balanced and therefore reporters must always endeavor to get all sides of a story and to represent those sides in a fair manner in the newspaper.
In the editing process, editors must also maintain the principles of fairness and avoid slanting a story or writing unfair or misleading headlines.
Any substantive errors in the newspaper will be corrected promptly.
The Journal’s editorial board does not hold "off-the-record" conferences with news sources. It is sometimes necessary for reporters to go off-the-record to get information but they should make every effort to get as much information as possible on-the-record. If reporters take off-the-record information, they must guard against placing The Journal in a compromising situation.
If an unnamed source is used for a story, every effort
must be made to corroborate the facts through other sources. Use of unnamed sources must be discussed with a senior editor who has the right to require that the reporter provide him or her with the name of the source.
The reasons for concealing a source’s identity should always be made clear in a story. We should always try to avoid allowing unnamed sources to attack an individual or an organization in the newspaper. [Back]
Reporters must always identify themselves when they are interviewing a news source in person or on the telephone.
There may be rare occasions when a reporter must go "under cover" in the pursuit of a story. Permission for this kind of investigation must be given by the managing editor and will only be done in cases of great public interest. The general rule remains that a reporter must not misrepresent himself/herself in the pursuit of a story and must always identify himself/herself if asked.
Plagiarism is not acceptable.
No reference should be made to a person’s race, color or religion in a news story unless it is pertinent to the context of that story.
The Journal always strives for balance, fairness and objectivity in reporting. The Journal must act and be perceived to act in a non-partisan manner. We must be free to report and comment on the activities of any publicly elected body or special-interest organization without perceived or actual conflict of interest. --->
Therefore, no member of the editorial staff should be compromised by open displays of political or partisan views. Editorial employees should not run for office or be involved in political parties or political campaigns.
Any involvement in community organizations which might appear to constitute a conflict of interest must be discussed with the employee’s department head. As a general rule, reporters and editors should not work on stories in which there may appear to be a conflict of interest because of their personal involvement. [Back] Anyone who is uncertain about whether their activities might constitute a conflict of interest should discuss the matter with his or her department head.
Financial investments or other outside business interests may conflict or appear to conflict with an individual’s ability to report the news impartially. Again, the onus is on staff members to notify their department heads of any interests which could place them in a conflict or the appearance of a conflict.
Freebies: As journalists, we must not use our positions at the newspaper to obtain preferential treatment or access in our private activities.
The Journal does not accept free trips of a promotional nature from any airline, tourist agency, government or other organization. Occasionally, there is a legitimate reason for taking a charter flight with an organization, but in those cases The Journal must always pay its share of the costs.
With the exception of those cases where The Journal is sponsoring an event and receives complimentary tickets in return for corporate support, we do not accept free tickets or passes to theatres, clubs or performances for which the rest of the public is expected to pay.
Journal staff should not accept gifts from news sources. However, there will be occasions when it would be rude to snub an offer of hospitality. The old standby "anything you can eat or drink in one sitting" is probably the best guideline for what is acceptable.
Freelance: Journal staffers are generally not permitted to do freelance work for competing media in The Journal's distribution zone. Appearances on radio and television can enhance the profile of the Individual as well as The Journal and are permitted providing the individual is always identified as a member of The Edmonton Journal. Those appearances and any writing for periodicals not considered competing media should always be cleared by the managing editor. The Journal should not be in the position of being 'scooped' by its own staff in another publication or media outlet.
Journal staffers are not permitted to accept freelance income from government publications or agencies. We cannot have staff members receiving payments from organizations we are responsible for covering as sources of news. As a rule of thumb, proposed freelance or outside work should be cleared with the managing editor.
Reporters and editors should remember that they are seen in the community as representatives of The Journal and should dress as well as act accordingly. All staff members should dress neatly and be well—groomed on the job. Whether they are in the office, talking on the phone or out in the community, staff members should conduct themselves in a courteous and fair manner.