Monday, 8 August 2011

Guardian updates editorial code for journalists

The Guardian has updated its Editorial Code for journalists to cover product endorsements and privacy issues.

Readers' editor Chris Elliott says in his Open Door column today that readers are irritated by plugs for products in interviews so a new clause has been added to the code on endorsements.

It reads: "Journalists should not agree to promote through copy, photographs or footnotes the financial interests of prospective interviewees or contributors, or their sponsors, as a means of securing access to them. Promotional information about a subject or author provided in footnotes should be included only where, in the editor's judgment, it is of genuine interest or assistance to the reader."

On privacy, the section of the Guardian code has been built on five principles drawn up by Sir David Omand, the former security and intelligence co-ordinator.

The fundamental principle in the editorial code is that "the degree of intrusion must be justified by the seriousness of the story and the public good that is likely to follow from its publication. Likewise the grounds for investigation must be strong; we do not conduct 'fishing' expeditions unless the issue, suspicion and prospects of success are all serious."

It adds: "To adapt the Omand principles, here are five questions we should ask ourselves about a situation in which we are considering intruding on privacy".

1. There must be sufficient cause – the intrusion needs to be justified by the scale of potential harm which might result from it.

2. There must be integrity of motive – the intrusion must be justified in terms of the public good which would follow from publication.

3. The methods used must be in proportion to the seriousness of story and its public interest, using the minimum possible intrusion.

4. There must be proper authority – any intrusion must be authorised at a sufficiently senior level and with appropriate oversight.

5. There must be a reasonable prospect of success: fishing expeditions are not justified.

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