The goal of Obaland Magazine is to cover the news as impartially as possible — “without fear or favor, our patriarch — and to treat readers, news sources, advertisers and others fairly and openly, and to be seen to be doing so. The reputation of OBALAND MAGAZINE rests upon such perceptions, and so do the professional reputations of its staff members. Thus Obaland magazine and members of its news department and editorial page staff share an interest in avoiding conflicts of interest or an appearance of a conflict.
For more than a century, men and women of Obaland magazine have jealously guarded the paper’s&onlineintegrity. Whatever else we contribute, our first duty is to make sure the integrity of Obaland Magazine is not blemished during our stewardship.
Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, may come up in many areas. They may involve the relationships of staff members with readers, news sources, advocacy groups, advertisers, or competitors; with one another, or with the magazine or its parent company. And at a time when two-career families are the norm, the civic and professional activities of spouses, family and companions can create conflicts or the appearance of conflicts.
In keeping with its solemn responsibilities under the First Amendment, Obaland Magazine strives to maintain the highest standards of journalistic ethics. It is confident that its staff members share that goal. ObalandMagazine also recognizes that staff members should be free to do creative, civic and personal work and to earn extra income in ways separate from their work at Obaland Magazine. Before engaging in such outside activities, though, staff members should exercise mature professional judgment and consider the stake we all have in Obaland magazine irreplaceable good name.
These guidelines generally apply to all members of the news and editorial departments whose work directly affects the content of the media, including those on leaves of absence.
They include reporters, editors, editorial writers, photographers, picture editors, art directors, artists, designers, graphics editors and researchers. This group of professional journalists is what this text means by “staff ” or “staff members.”
News clerks, administrative assistants, secretaries and other support staff are generally not bound by these strictures, with two important exceptions: (1), no newsroom or editorial page employee may exploit for personal gain any nonpublic information acquired at work, or use his or her association with Obaland Magazine to gain favour or advantage. And (2), no one may do anything that damages Obaland Magazine’s reputation for strict neutrality in reporting on politics and government; in particular, no one may wear campaign buttons or display any other form of political partisanship in as far we do not cover political issues.
Our contracts with freelance contributors require them to avoid conflicts of interest, real or apparent. In keeping with that, they must honour these guidelines in their Obaland Magazine assignments.
Obaland Magazine believes beyond the question that its staff shares the values these guidelines are intended to protect. In the past Obaland Magazine has resolved differences of view over applying these values amiably through discussion, almost without exception. The media has every reason to believe that pattern will continue. Nevertheless, Obaland Magazine views any deliberate violation of these guidelines as a serious offence that may lead to disciplinary action, potentially including dismissal, subject to the terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Our fundamental purpose is to protect the impartiality and neutrality of Obaland Magazine and the integrity of its report. In many instances, merely applying that purpose with common sense will point to the ethical course. Sometimes the answer is self-evident. Simply asking oneself whether a course of action might damage the media’s reputation is often enough to gauge whether the action is appropriate.
Every staff member is expected to read this document carefully and to think about how it might apply to his or her duties. A lack of familiarity with its provisions cannot excuse a violation; to the contrary, it makes the violation worse. The provisions presented here can offer only broad principles and some examples. Our world changes constantly, sometimes dramatically. No written document could anticipate every possibility. Thus we expect staff members to consult their supervisors and the standards editor or the deputy editorial page editor if they have any doubts about any particular situation or opportunity covered by this document. In most cases, an exchange of emails should suffice.
Thus this handbook is not an exhaustive compilation of all situations that may give rise to an actual or perceived conflict of interest. It does not exclude situations or issues giving rise to such conflicts simply because they are not explicitly covered within this document, nor does the document or any of its particular provisions create an implied or express contract of employment with any individual to whom the guidelines apply. ObalandMagazine reserves the right to modify and expand the guidelines from time to time, as appropriate.
The authority to interpret and apply these guidelines is vested in department heads and ranking editors, most notably in the standards editor and the deputy editorial page editor. They may delegate that duty to their ranking assistants, but they remain responsible for decisions made in their name.
In addition to these rules, we observe and deal with information as such rudimentary professional practices as the importance of checking facts, the exactness of quotations, the integrity of photographs and our distaste for anonymous sourcing; and the Policy on Confidential Sources, in section 37 of the Nigeria law. These documents are available from the standards editor or on the Newsroom home page under Policies.
As employees of the Obaland Magazine Company, we observe the Rules of the Road, which are the axiomatic standards of behaviour governing our dealing with colleagues and going about our work. We also observe the company’s policies against harassment on computers and electronic communications.
Obaland Magazine treats its readers as fairly and openly as possible. In print and online, we tell our readers the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it. It is our policy to correct our errors, large and small, as soon as we become aware of them.
We treat our readers no less fairly in private than in public. Anyone who deals with readers is expected to honour that principle, knowing that ultimately the readers are our employers. Civility applies whether an exchange takes place in person, by telephone, by letter or online. Simple courtesy suggests that we not alienate our readers by ignoring their letters and emails that warrant a reply.
Obaland Magazine gathers information for the benefit of its readers. Staff members may not use their media position to make inquiries for any other purpose. As noted above, they may not seek any advantage for themselves or others by acting on or disclosing information acquired in their work but not yet available to readers.
Staff members who plagiarize or who knowingly or recklessly provide false information for publication betray our fundamental pact with our readers. We will not tolerate such behaviour
Obaland Magazine treats news sources just as fairly and openly as it treats readers. We do not inquire pointlessly into someone’s personal life. Staff members may not threaten to damage uncooperative sources. They may not promise favourable coverage in return for cooperation. They may not pay for interviews or unpublished documents.
Staff members should disclose their identity to people they cover (whether face to face or otherwise), though they need not always announce their status as journalists when seeking information normally available to the public. Staff members may not pose as police officers, lawyers, business people or anyone else when they are working as journalists. (As happens on rare occasions, when seeking to enter countries that bar journalists, correspondents may take cover from vagueness and identify themselves as travelling on business or as tourists.)
Theater, music and art critics and other writers who review goods or services offered to the public may conceal their media connection but may not normally assert a false identity or affiliation. As an exception, restaurant critics may make reservations in false names to protect their identity. Restaurant critics and travel writers must conceal their Obaland Magazine affiliation to eliminate the possibility of special treatment.
Relationships with sources require the utmost in sound judgment and self-discipline to prevent the fact or appearance of partiality. Cultivating sources is an essential skill, often practised most effectively in informal settings outside of normal business hours. Yet staff members, especially those assigned to beats, must be sensitive that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favouritism, in fact, or appearance. And conversely, staff members must be aware that sources are eager to win our goodwill for reasons of their own.
Even though this topic defies hard and fast rules, it is essential that we preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias. Staff members may see sources informally over a meal or drink, but they must keep in mind the difference between legitimate business and personal friendship. A City Hall reporter who enjoys a weekly round of golf with a City Council member, for example, risks creating an appearance of cosiness, even if they sometimes discuss business on the course. So does a reporter who joins a regular card game or is a familiar face in a corporation’s box seats or who spends weekends in the company of people he or she covers. Scrupulous practice requires that periodically we step back and take a hard look at whether we have drifted too close to sources we deal with regularly. The acid test of freedom from favouritism is the ability to maintain good working relationships with all parties to a dispute.
Clearly, romantic involvement with a news source would foster an appearance of partiality. Therefore staff members who develop close relationships with people who might figure in coverage they provide, edit, package or supervise must disclose those relationships to the standards editor, the associate managing editor for news administration or the deputy editorial page editor. In some cases, no further action may be needed. But in other instances, staff members may have to recuse themselves from certain coverage. And in still other cases, assignments may have to be modified or beats changed. In a few instances, a staff member may have to move to a different department — from business and financial news, say, to the culture desk—to avoid the appearance of conflict.
Staff members must obey the law in the pursuit of news. They may not break into buildings, homes, apartments or offices. They may not purloin data, documents or other property, including such electronic property as databases and email or voice mail messages. They may not tap telephones, invade computer files or otherwise eavesdrop electronically on news sources. In short, they may not commit illegal acts of any sort.
Staff members may not use the identification cards or special license plates issued by police or other official agencies except in doing their jobs. Staff members who have applied for or hold “NPF” or other special plates should disclose that fact to the associate managing editor for news administration or the deputy editorial page editor. Staff members whose duties do not require special plates must return them.
Staff members may not record conversations without the prior consent of all parties to the conversations. Even where the law allows recording with only one party aware of it, the practice is a deception. Masthead editors may make rare exceptions to this prohibition in places where recordings made secretly are legal.
Obaland magazine pays the expenses when its representatives entertain news sources (including government officials) or travel to cover them. In some business situations and in some cultures, it may be unavoidable to accept a meal or a drink paid for by a news source. For example, Obaland magazine reporters need not decline every invitation to interview an executive over lunch in the corporation’s private dining room, where it is all but impossible to pick up the check. Whenever practical, however, the reporter should suggest dining where The media can pay..
Staff members may not serve as ghostwriters or co-authors for individuals who figure or are likely to figure in coverage they provide, edit, package or supervise. They may not undertake such assignments for organizations that espouse a cause.
Staff members may not engage in financial counselling (except in the articles they write). They may not manage money for others, proffer investment advice, or operate or help operate an investment company of any sort, with or without pay. They may not do anything that would require registration as an investment adviser. They may, however, help family members with ordinary financial planning and serve as executors or administrators of estates of relatives and friends and as court-appointed conservators and guardians.
Staff members who borrow equipment, vehicles or other goods for evaluation or review must return the borrowed items as soon as possible. Similarly, items borrowed to be photographed, such as fashion apparel or home furnishings, should be returned promptly.
Staff members may keep them for their own collections — but may not sell or copy — books, recordings, tapes, compact discs and computer programs sent to them for review. Such submissions are considered press releases. Recorded or digital media, such as tapes or disks, must be destroyed or returned to the provider if not retained by the journalist; they may not be copied, given away or left where they could be carried off for illicit copying or reuse.
Staff members may not collaborate in ventures involving individuals or organizations that figure or are likely to figure in coverage they provide, edit, package or supervise. Among other things, this prohibition applies to collaborating in writing books, pamphlets, reports, scripts, scores or any other material and in making photographs or creating artwork of any sort.
Except in reviews or columns published in Obaland Magazine or on its website or appropriately voiced in authorized public appearances, staff members may not offer endorsements, testimonials or promotional blurbs for books, films, television programs or any other programs, products or ventures. Masthead editors may authorize rare exceptions (for instance, when a staff member has become an expert in a field unrelated to his or her duties). This restriction does not apply when permission is given to reprint Obaland magazine material.
Staff members of Obaland magazine are family members and responsible citizens, as well as journalists Obaland Magazine, respects their educating their children, . Nothing in this policy is meant to infringe upon those rights. But even in the best of causes, Obaland staff members have a duty to avoid the appearance of a conflict. They should never invoke Obaland’s name in private activities.
Certain of these requirements apply to all newsroom and editorial page employees, journalists and support staff alike. No newsroom or editorial employee may do anything that damages.
Journalists have no place on the playing field of politics. but they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of Obaland Magazine. In particular, they may not campaign for, demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts to enact legislation. They may not wear campaign buttons or display any other insignia of partisan politics. They should recognize that a bumper sticker on the family car or a campaign sign on the lawn may be misread as theirs, no matter who in their household actually placed the sticker or the sign.
Staff members may not themselves give money to, or raise money for, any political candidate or election cause. Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributors, any political giving by an Obaland staff member would carry a great risk of feeding a false impression that the media is taking sides.
No staff member may seek public office anywhere. Seeking or serving in public office plainly violates the professional detachment expected of a journalist. It poses a risk of having the staff member’s political views imputed to Obaland Magazine, and it can sow suspicion of favouritism in our media coverage when one of its staff is an active participant.
Staff members may not march or rally in support of public causes or movements, sign ads taking a position on public issues, or lend their name to campaigns, benefit dinners or similar events if doing so might reasonably raise doubts about their ability or Obaland media ability to function as neutral observers in covering the news. Staff members must keep in mind that neighbours and other observers commonly see them as representatives of the media.