Ethics & Professional Standards Guidelines
As a news organization, Karnataka Jyothy is committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in journalism. The organization values fairness, accuracy, and integrity above all else, recognizing that the public’s trust in their work is paramount.
To ensure that ethical standards are upheld, the organization has developed a set of guidelines to help staff navigate difficult ethical questions that may arise in the course of their work. While these guidelines provide general guidance, the organization also emphasizes the importance of using good judgment and common sense.
One of the key principles that guides the organization’s ethical standards is the need to maintain credibility. Staff are expected to act in ways that do not damage the organization’s reputation or the public’s trust in its work. This principle applies to a range of issues, including political involvement, attribution, and freelance policy.
Another important principle is that any situation that raises questions of credibility should be discussed with a ranking editor. Staff are encouraged to seek guidance and support from their colleagues when faced with difficult ethical decisions. Collaboration and open discussion are seen as essential to making sound ethical decisions.
The organization also emphasizes the importance of collective responsibility. Staff are encouraged to speak up if they become aware of ethical violations committed by a fellow staff member. The organization recognizes that ethical issues can be complex and involve shades of gray, and encourages staff to discuss and explore these issues together.
In summary, Karnataka Jyothy is committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in journalism. The organization values fairness, accuracy, and integrity, and recognizes that maintaining credibility is essential to its work. Staff are encouraged to seek guidance and support from their colleagues, and to work together to uphold ethical standards and preserve the organization’s reputation.
Professional Activities and Standards
Fairness, Accuracy and Corrections
The Karnataka Jyothy is committed to delivering news that is fair, accurate, and independent. To achieve this, the organization seeks opposing views and solicits responses from those whose conduct is questioned in news stories. In cases where the opposing side cannot be reached, the news story should indicate this. The organization should also strive to create balance in all of its coverage and acknowledge errors promptly in a straightforward manner.
If a mistake is made online, the organization should correct the error and indicate that the story has been updated to clarify what it says. Requests to remove accurate information from public archives should be considered carefully. While the organization’s policy is not to remove published content from its archives, it will update and correct archived content as needed.
The organization must clarify a story, photograph, video, caption, editorial, etc., when it creates a false impression of fact. If there is a question over whether a correction, clarification, or removal of a story or photo is necessary, the matter should be brought to an editor.
Journalists must identify themselves to news sources unless there are exceptional circumstances. If journalists are unlawfully restricted from doing their job, they should remain calm and professional and report the situation to a ranking editor immediately.
Plagiarism is not acceptable, whether it is the wholesale lifting of someone else’s writing or the publication of a press release as news without attribution. Journalists must be responsible for their research, just as they are for their reporting. The inadvertent publication of another’s work does not excuse plagiarism, and it will result in serious disciplinary action, including termination.
Confidentiality and Unidentified Sources
The Karnataka Jyothy has a strict policy regarding the use of unnamed sources in news stories. Whenever possible, reporters should avoid using unnamed sources, and instead, attribute information to named sources. However, in cases where the news value warrants the use of an unnamed source, the reporter must describe the source in as much detail as possible to indicate their credibility.
The Karnataka Jyothy will not allow unnamed sources to make personal attacks, and the use of unnamed sources is subject to approval by the Executive Editor. Reporters must identify any unnamed source to their editor, and the editor must ask for the identity of any unnamed source used in the story.
Agreements about anonymity should be made with sources in advance, and sources should understand the ground rules for what information can be attributed to them and what cannot be attributed. Reporters should also clarify what is off-the-record, meaning what information cannot be published unless confirmed through another source.
The Karnataka Jyothy does not pay for information under any circumstances. In cases where information is obtained from wire services or other newspapers, the Karnataka Jyothy will apply its own standards to the use of unnamed sources. If there are significant conflicts between the attribution of information in a wire story and the Karnataka Jyothy policy on unattributed sources, efforts will be made to contact the originating news agency for more information.
Use of Names / Descriptions
When reporting on arrests, Karnataka Jyothy outlets can identify the arrested person if they have been officially named by law enforcement or other officials. However, in some cases, the person may not be named until they are formally charged.
Juveniles are generally not identified unless they are being tried as adults or their alleged crime is deemed newsworthy. In such cases, a decision on identification should be made in consultation with an editor.
If a person is named in Karnataka Jyothy reporting, efforts should be made to report on the ultimate adjudication of the case.
Victims of sexual assault are generally not named in Karnataka Jyothy reporting.
When reporting on suspects, physical descriptions should only be published if they are specific enough to be useful in identifying the person.
Social Media Identities / Use
- Branding and Endorsements:
- Social media accounts should be clearly branded with the name of the news organization.
- Employees should refrain from endorsing entities they cover or have direct contact with.
- Official profiles should indicate they represent the news organization, with branded backgrounds or the newspaper’s name incorporated into the title of the page.
- Professional Conduct:
- Journalists should maintain professional decorum on personal and work social media accounts.
- They should be aware of their language, opinions, and how their posts may be perceived.
- They should consider themselves a representative of the company in all public interactions.
- Accuracy and Corrections:
- Employees will not delete incorrect posts, but will correct them and indicate they had previously published incorrect information.
- For media that allow editing, corrections should be made and identified as updated.
- Journalists can break news via social media, but should use it to augment, not substitute, their reporting approach.
- Naming and Reporting:
- Arrested individuals can be named, but juveniles and victims of sexual assault should generally not be named.
- Physical descriptions of suspects should only be published if they are specific enough to be useful in identification.
- Once a person is named, the news organization should make every effort to report on the ultimate adjudication of the case.
Social Media in Breaking News Coverage
When breaking news through social media, Karnataka Jyothy journalists should always source their information and clearly indicate whether they are at the scene or not. If they are not present, they must attribute the source of the information repeatedly.
If a reporter intends to publish information from an anonymous source on their personal social media account, they must follow the guidelines set forth in the “Confidentiality and Unidentified Sources” section of the document. Moreover, an editor must approve the publication of any anonymous information before it is shared on social media.
When retweeting information from Twitter, Karnataka Jyothy journalists should retweet the information in its original form, either in a single post or multiple instances. Copying and pasting alone is not acceptable. They should also attribute the original source of the information and consider the reliability of the source before sharing the content.
In short, Karnataka Jyothy journalists must exercise caution and responsibility when breaking news via social media, making sure to attribute sources and confirm the accuracy of the information before publishing it.
Quotations and Attribution
When quoting someone in a news article, it is important to accurately represent their words. Quotations should be exact, except for minor corrections in grammar and syntax. It is inappropriate to use parentheses within quotations, and ellipses should be avoided.
In situations where a quote was not obtained through an interview, such as through an email, a prepared statement, or a televised press conference, we should explain how we obtained the quote in our reporting. If an interview is conducted through a translator, it is necessary to identify which quotes were received through translation.
It is also important to avoid misleading readers by implying that a source made a statement directly to the reporter when, in reality, it was obtained through a third party. This is a violation of journalistic integrity and undermines the trust that readers place in our reporting.
Bylines, Datelines and Credit Lines
Bylines, datelines, and credit lines are important to convey to readers the source of reporting accurately. All stories, whether long or brief, should have a byline and contact information for the writer so that readers know who to contact in case of any error or issue.
In cases where multiple reporters contribute to a story, the first name in the byline should be that of the reporter who wrote the article or, if different, of the largest contributor. All reporters who contributed significantly to the story should be included in the byline. Contributor lines should be reserved for those who provided small slices of reporting, such as a single quote or two for a story.
In cases where we use material from our colleagues at Karnataka Jyothy partner newspapers, we should treat it as the work of our individual newspaper’s staff. When a reporter writes an article based on both wire service reports and the reporter’s own work, the article should carry the reporter’s byline and a credit to the wire service in a tagline. If the reporter independently reports the facts of the story, the byline can stand alone. If the reporter simply inserts some local material, the byline should be the originating source with a reporter’s credit at the end.
When adding a wire service quote to a story, especially if it is exclusive information or an anonymous quote, indicate the source: “Bush is going to run for re-election,” a senior administration official told the Washington Post.
In cases where a story is filed from a location other than the reporter’s home office, it should carry a dateline. The dateline should be the name of the city or town where the story was reported and the date it was filed. In cases where the story was reported from multiple locations, each location should be included in the dateline, with the earliest location listed first.
Overall, bylines, datelines, and credit lines are important to accurately attribute the source of reporting and give credit to all reporters who contributed to a story.
Our news organization sometimes uses bylines from news agencies to help provide comprehensive coverage of events from around the world. We trust these agencies to adhere to the same high standards of journalism that we maintain.
The Associated Press (AP) is one such news cooperative that we work with. Founded in 1846, AP is an independent, not-for-profit organization that serves member newspapers and broadcasters in the United States, as well as customers around the world. With journalists in more than 100 countries, AP covers breaking news, investigative reporting, and visual storytelling. Their mission is to provide objective and accurate reporting of the world’s biggest news events. To learn more about AP’s policies and standards, readers can refer to their Statement of News Values and Principles.
Another agency that we use is City News Service (CNS), which is a regional wire service covering Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties. CNS’s reporting and editing staff cover stories related to public safety, courts, local government, and general assignments. To learn more about their procedures, readers can visit their About Us page.
Our editorial board and opinion section staff operate independently of the news-gathering side of our organization. We believe it is important to provide our readership with informed and thoughtful opinions on important issues that affect our community, region, and state. Our staff-written editorials cover a wide range of topics, from local government and politics to environmental issues and transportation.
We have a no byline policy on editorials written by our Editorial Board, as they represent the point of view of our news organization’s management. We meet regularly with government officials, community leaders, and business representatives to ensure that our editorial positions are well-informed and represent a broad range of perspectives.
During election cycles, we meet with candidates and proponents and opponents of ballot initiatives to gather information and make recommendations to voters. Our goal is to provide our readership with a comprehensive understanding of important issues and to encourage constructive dialogue and civic engagement in our community.
Visual Imaging and Editing
Visual journalists and their managers are held accountable to strict standards of truthfulness, accuracy, and respect for their subjects. In order to ensure that their work is in keeping with these values, they must adhere to the following guidelines:
- Strive to produce images that accurately reflect the truth and avoid being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
- Avoid setting up photographs or videos or manipulating news events, except in cases where it is necessary for illustration purposes. Any altered images must be clearly labeled as such.
- Show respect and dignity to all subjects, and exercise compassion when covering victims of crime or tragedy. Only intrude on private moments of grief when there is a justifiable need for the public to see.
- Maintain the integrity of photographic images through accurate and comprehensive editing that does not mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects. Captions must be truthful and accurate.
- Do not pay sources or subjects for information or participation.
- When reproducing images from other sources, be sure to include the context of the original publication and obtain editor approval.
- When using images from television media, obtain agreement from the station and ensure that proper source credit is given.
- Obtain permission from copyright holders before using images taken from digital sources, except in cases where approval by a ranking editor is obtained. Social media images should be vetted by an editor to ensure proper verification processes are followed.
- Follow the video policy of the venue being covered, and discuss how to proceed with coverage if the policies are prohibitive.
- Do not allow Karnataka Jyothy visual journalism to be used for political campaigns or commercial purposes, except in cases approved by the executive editor for educational or historical purposes.
- Discuss and obtain approval from editors for issues of visual taste, such as dead bodies, nudity, graffiti, and language.
By adhering to these standards, visual journalists and their managers ensure that their work is held to the highest standards of journalistic integrity and accuracy.
Meals, Tickets, Travel Policy
The Karnataka Jyothy adheres to the principle of paying for its own expenses as much as possible. This includes meals and drinks shared with news sources, which the publication will pay for rather than accepting complimentary meals.
However, staff members are allowed to accept free admission to plays, concerts, sporting events, and other performances only when they are on assignment for the Karnataka Jyothy, covering or reviewing these events.
When it comes to transportation and other expenses necessary for professional duties, the Karnataka Jyothy will pay for them in all possible cases. This includes travel on the press plane of a political candidate or sports team.
The policy of paying for its own expenses ensures that the Karnataka Jyothy remains independent and free from any potential conflicts of interest that could arise from accepting gifts or favors.
Gifts and Sample Products
At the Karnataka Jyothy, employees are expected to avoid accepting or soliciting gifts or services related to their work. Gifts received that exceed a value of $25 should be returned or donated to a charity. The Monrovia newsroom will collect such items throughout the year and donate them to a charity annually in December, making it convenient for journalists to donate. However, items of token or insignificant value that cost less than $25, such as pencils, key chains, or calendars, may be accepted if returning them would be difficult.
Books, sample food products, software, compact discs, or other similar items sent to the Karnataka Jyothy for review purposes are accepted as news releases. It is strictly forbidden to sell such items for personal profit.
Grants and scholarships for seminars, conferences, and events that aid in building skills and knowledge may also be accepted. However, before accepting any funding to cover tuition fees for an outside event, a senior management team member must be consulted and allowed enough time to provide their input.
Conflicts of Interest and Outside Activities
The Karnataka Jyothy has a code of ethics that its employees must abide by to ensure the integrity of the news organization. These ethics cover a range of topics from financial conflicts of interest to relationships with sources and subjects.
Financial Conflicts of Interest
To maintain journalistic independence and impartiality, Karnataka Jyothy employees cannot have any financial connections to the topics they cover. This includes owning stock or any other form of investment, holding an outside job, or receiving fees for services or preferential treatment. Conflicts involving the financial interests of spouses or close family members should also be avoided.
Online and Outside Activity
Employees are expected to avoid advertising or advocating viewpoints on public issues in professional or public settings, whether in person or online. They should not take an active part or a public stand on political, public policy or any other debates over which they may end up covering. Employees should avoid signing petitions or otherwise identifying themselves with causes they are expected to cover.
Journalists should also avoid outside activities that could conflict with their jobs. This includes engaging in partisan political activities, working for a political candidate on a paid or volunteer basis, participating in demonstrations for political causes, or making contributions to political candidates, parties, or activist organizations. Contributions to religious or charitable organizations are generally allowed.
Freelancing by Karnataka Jyothy employees may be permissible in certain circumstances, but all freelance assignments must be approved by a supervisor. Employees may not work for media that are in direct competition with the organization.
Radio and Television
Employees appearing on shows related to their areas of expertise should obtain the approval of a supervisor and must be identified as a Karnataka Jyothy staffer. Journalists are held to the same standards in broadcast media as they would be in print, speaking to facts and providing analysis but not offering opinion. Paid appearances, such as regularly appearing on a radio show, are regarded as freelance assignments and are allowed with a supervisor’s knowledge and approval.
Employees may speak before trade groups, community organizations, etc., but should not accept speaking fees. Instances where a staff member will be permitted to accept expenses or fees as part of a speaking engagement will be decided on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a supervisor.
Employees cannot use their positions with the Karnataka Jyothy to get any benefit or advantage in commercial transactions or personal business for themselves, their families, friends, or acquaintances. They cannot use the company name, reputation, phone number, or stationery to imply a threat of retaliation or pressure, to curry favor, or to seek personal gain.
Employees shall not write, photograph, illustrate, or make news judgments about anyone related to them by blood or marriage, or with whom they have a close personal relationship. Journalists shall not provide sponsored content to preserve the organization’s editorial integrity and independence, including reporters, visual journalists, and digital specialists. Any sponsored content online and in print must be clearly identified as such.