Our commitment to promote transparency in news gathering and reporting.
The digital revolution has forever changed the way we get our news. It has opened up unprecedented possibilities for disseminating and consuming information that have allowed readers to find and generate their own content, beyond traditional media sources.
Within this context of radical change, we have seen an exponential growth of fake news, manipulated news, for political or commercial purposes, or just unreliable news, particularly on social media websites.
For the traditional media, which hasn’t fully coped with the profound changes brought by Internet, this new phenomenon has added a new level of uncertainty: it questions its credibility and its capability to put out reliable information, it even endangers the citizen’s rights to information and, in so doing, threatens democracy itself.
For these reasons, and to protect the freedom of the press, all those involved in the newsgathering business should adhere to the following best practice guidelines:
Best practice guidelines for media and journalists
- Media companies should clearly state who their owners are. They should also include an up-to-date organization chart, relevant biographies of their editors and chiefs, and an annual financial report.
- Media companies should make public their editorial values and guidelines, and explain the purpose of their publications.
- Media companies should not present promotional material, commercial, political or other, (a.k.a. brand journalism) as news. It should be clearly stated that these contents are, in fact, advertising.
- Journalists will ensure the traceability and transparency of the news they report. They will give as many details as possible about their sources, author, dates and origins. They will also share their research material.
- Newsrooms will ensure the accuracy of the information by using verification techniques and committing to international fact checking standards, such as non-partisanship and equality.
- Media organizations will guarantee the confidentiality of their sources, especially those denouncing ethics violations such as corruption and fraud.
- Journalists and media organizations will make sure that errors, that might appear in their stories, are corrected promptly to avoid being propagated and so putting into question their journalistic credibility.
- Journalists and media organization will make sure that the people written about, especially from vulnerable groups, can easily ask for a correction or rectification if the story includes errors or inaccuracies.
- Technological innovations can help protect free and plural speech. New tools which allow the users to verify for themselves the reliability and transparency of a particular media shall be encouraged.
- “Open source” journalism and formats compatible with Open Office can be extremely useful against fake news.
- Media companies should be made aware by the search engines about how the “right to be forgotten” can impact their stories. Particularly, they have the right to be informed about blocked or deleted content by search engines.
- Media organizations and journalists have an obligation to ask for transparency, the right to access information, and hold public institutions accountable of their actions. For that purpose, public records that document policy decision, procedures, operations or other activities, should be organized and maintained in such way that they can be easily accessible to citizens.
- Governmental and political organizations should respect the international standards on freedom of expression.
- Legitimate forms of expressions like satire and social criticism should be protected.
- Criminal Law should be avoided to fight fake news as well as any form of political interference in the media.
- Governmental organizations should promote digital and media literacy campaigns.
- Companies will include tools to give preference to rigorous journalistic information as part of their commitment to a plural society, free and fair, educated in critical thinking.
- Companies will not finance or promote fake news.