Riverine News Ethics and Social Media Policy


 October 2015

 Riverine News management and its staff, we commit ourselves to the highest standards of independent journalism.  We serve the public’s right to know, in line with section 16 of Nigeria constitution which guarantees this fundamental right in order to allow citizens to make decisions and judgments about their society.

We pledge to exercise our role with great care and responsibility to safeguard public trust in our integrity.

1. Accuracy & Sourcing
Our first duty is to report accurately. We will take care to evaluate information provided to us and to cross-check it as much as possible before publishing. We will show readers the chain of evidence we have.

1.1 The more serious and controversial a claim is, the more corroboration will be required before it can be published. A single source will not usually be sufficient.  Secondary sources like other newspaper reports will be treated with caution, and clearly identified.

1.2 Anonymous sources will be avoided unless there is no other way to handle a story and there is extensive additional evidence available. Where sources cannot be named, they will still be identified as closely as possible by reference to their organisation, position, relevance to the story or similar.

1.3 Anonymity will only be granted if the source can persuade us that they have sound reasons for the request. It is not available to people peddling rumour, comment or spin. However, once it has been granted, the newspaper will protect the identity of the source.

1.4 We will take particular care with information that is passed on to us in furtherance of a particular agenda, and will seek additional corroboration in the light of the motives and interests of a source.

1.5 Headlines, captions and posters will fairly reflect the content of articles.

2. Fairness
We will treat the sources and subjects of our reporting fairly, making sure they have a full opportunity to respond to reporting that may affect them.  This means actively seeking out all relevant views and giving people sufficient time to formulate a response. A report can only go ahead without relevant responses if the opportunity to comment has been declined, or if the editor is satisfied that all reasonable measures have been exhausted. In this case, the situation will be explained to readers.

3. Independence
Our journalistic duty to inform the public trumps all other considerations, whether they are financial, political, personal or any other non-professional interests. This includes the business interests of the paper itself. We will avoid conflicts of interest as well as the appearance of conflicts of interest.

3.1 Editorial material will be kept clearly distinct from advertising or any paid-for content. Any outside support for editorial work, such as through sponsored travel, will be declared in the relevant report.

4. Minimising Harm
We recognise that the media can have a harmful impact on the subjects of our reports, our sources, our audiences and society in general, and pledge to minimise it. We will take particular care when dealing with vulnerable people and groups.

4.1 We will not fuel  tribal or racial stereotypes, and respect the constitutional prohibition of hate speech. We will take note of sensitivities arising from our history, but will not shy away from reporting issues involving tribal suppression .

4.2 We will take note of social sensitivities around religion, death, the portrayal of nudity, sex and violence, the use of strong language and others. We will not offend these sensitivities gratuitously.

4.5 Any infringement of an individual’s privacy – a right guaranteed in the constitution – must be fully justified by a clear and strong public interest. It must be carefully considered, and proportionate to the level of public interest. We recognise that people in positions of importance or who have sought a life in the public eye have a reduced right to privacy.

4.6 We will take great care to avoid the possibility of direct harm to a source.  Where this seems possible, extra steps will be taken to make sure the source understands the dangers and gives informed consent, and steps to mitigate the danger are put in place.

4.7 We will take particular care to avoid harm to children.  While it is important to seek out the views of children, we will not do anything that may expose them to abuse, discrimination, retribution, embarrassment or any other risk. We will make sure that we consult with a parent or guardian about any impact our reporting may have on the child. We will not use sexualised images of children.

5.  Reporting Methods
We will use open, honest means to gather information. Exceptions can only be made when there is strong public interest in a story and there are no alternative methods available.

5.1 We will identify ourselves as reporters to potential sources.  We respect the law, and our reporters are required to have a good understanding of relevant legal provisions.

5.2 We will respect off-the-record and similar arrangements.  Agreements with sources must be clear, and are binding on the newspaper and its journalists.

5.3 We do not pay for information.

5.4 We do not allow sources to vet our reports before publication.  Sometimes, however, it is advisable for reporters to check back to ensure the accuracy of  technically complex information, quotes and the like.

5.5 We will keep detailed records of all interviews we conduct, either in note form or preferably as a recording.

6. Accountability
We accept the same level of public scrutiny and accountability as we subject others to. At all times, responses to complaints will be generous, helpful and governed by the need to make sure readers get the fullest information available.

6.1 We will correct errors with due prominence as soon as we become aware of them. Errors online will not be invisibly corrected. Instead, a note with the correction will be posted with the original article.





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