|Webdiary - Independent, Ethical, Accountable and Transparent|
MARGO NOTE: I first published Webdiary's ethics on July 23, 2003 after writing a chapter on the topic for Remote Control: New Media New Ethics (Cambridge University Press). Webdiary Pty Ltd's board intends to appoint a Webdiary Ombudsman to handle Webdiarists' complaints of ethical breaches and complaints about comments editing which I can't resolve to the satisfaction of complainants. I've revised Webdiary's ethics to reflect its independence and the change in the means of Webdiarists' contributions from emails to comments.
Webdiary Management Team Note: Margo's redraft for the new site stands as she wrote it!
I want you to trust Webdiary. Trust is the ideal at the core of all professional ethics codes, which are guidelines for conduct which aim to achieve that ideal. I'm a journalist bound by a code of ethics drafted to apply to traditional journalism. I've adapted the code to meet the responsibilities of running Webdiary, and set out guidelines for your contributions. These guidelines are always open for discussion and debate on Webdiary and can be clarified and added to as issues arise.
1. I will strive to comply with the Media Alliance codes of ethics, which will be in a prominent position on this site at all times.
2. In particular, I will correct errors of fact on Webdiary as soon as possible after they are brought to my attention and will disclose and explain any inadvertent breach of my ethical duties on Webdiary at the first available opportunity.
3. I will respond on Webdiary to all non-frivolous queries or complaints about my compliance with the codes.
4. I will not belittle or show disrespect for any reader's contributions I publish, or to any person who emails me.
5. I will do my utmost to ensure that Webdiary is a space to which all readers, whatever their views or style, feel safe to contribute. If you are offended by something in Webdiary, feel free to respond. I won't publish any material which incites hatred.
6. I will let you know when archives have been changed except when changes do not alter their substance, for example corrections to spelling or grammar. I will amend archived Webdiary entries to include corrections of fact and advise you accordingly.
7. My decisions on publication will be made in good faith, without bias towards those I agree with or am sympathetic towards.
8. I reserve the right to edit contributions.
9. I will publish most contributions made in good faith which are critical of Webdiary's content or direction, or of me.
My expectations of you
As a journalist I have ethical obligations to readers; as a contributor you do not. Still, there's a few guidelines I'd like you to follow.
1. If you don't want to use your real name, use a nom de plume and briefly explain, for publication, why you don't want to use your real name. Please send me your real name on a confidential basis if you choose to use a nom de plume. I will not publish attacks on other contributors unless your real name is used.
2. Disclose affiliations which you think could reasonably be perceived to affect what you write. For example, if you are writing about politics, disclose your membership of a political party.
3. Don't plagiarise, that is don't use the ideas of others without telling us where they came from, and don't copy the writings of others and pass them off as your own. There's no need. Put quotes around the words of other people, and tell us who they are and where you got them from. If you've used online sources for your contributions, include the links so others can follow them up.
4. Be truthful. Don't invent 'facts'. If you're caught out, expect to be corrected in Webdiary.
5. Robust debate is great, but don't indulge in personal attacks on other contributors.
6. Write in the first person. Remember, we're having a conversation here.
I am bound by the code of ethics of the Media Alliance union, of which I am a member. The Alliance code follows. To complain about a breach of the code, contact me and/or the Media Alliance. To comment on, question or complain about Webdiary's ethics, post to this entry and I will respond as soon as possible.
MEDIA ALLIANCE CODE OF ETHICS
Respect for truth and the public's right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression. Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities. MEAA members engaged in journalism commit themselves to
* Respect for the rights of others
1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
3. Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the sources motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
4. Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a persons vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
10. Do not plagiarise.
11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.
Basic values often need interpretation and sometimes come into conflict. Ethical journalism requires conscientious decision-making in context. Only substantial advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.