Ethical principles, Code of Conduct & Ethics for Kurunzi Journalists
We operate in the public interest – reporting stories of significance to our audiences and holding power to account.
In our journalism in particular, we seek to establish the truth and use the highest reporting standards to provide coverage that is fair and accurate.
Our specialist expertise provides professional judgment and clear analysis. We are impartial, seeking to reflect the views and experiences of our audiences – so that our output as a whole, includes a breadth and diversity of opinion and no significant strand of thought is under-represented or omitted.
We are independent of outside interests and arrangements that could compromise our editorial integrity.
Our audiences trust us and they expect us to adhere to the highest editorial standards.
In exercising freedom of expression, we must offer appropriate protection to vulnerable groups and avoid causing unjustifiable offence.
We must also respect people’s privacy – only putting private information into the public domain where the public interest outweighs an individual’s legitimate expectation of privacy.
We have a particular responsibility towards children and young people and must preserve their right to speak out and be heard. Where they contribute to or feature in our output, we must take due care to ensure that their dignity and their physical and emotional welfare is protected.
The character and philosophy of Kurunzi news and information outlets are shaped by the editorial guidelines and objectives outlined below:
- Specialized language and expressions (e.g. such as in medicine, economics, religion, court cases) must be accurately and carefully interpreted into English and Kiswahili usage.
- Kurunzi News will practice issue-based as opposed to excessive or continuous personality-based journalism that tends to create an impression that the issues are driven by personal agenda and vendetta and in the process eschews journalism that is based on unattributable and unsubstantiated rumour and gossip in relation to public figures.
- While recognizing the fact that as individuals, journalists would ordinarily have their own political views and/or political party affiliations or religious affiliations, journalists working for Kurunzi News are expected to subordinate their individual political or religious views and to remain non-political and neutral on religious matters in the course of discharging their official duties so as not to allow their political or religious affiliations or views to influence their editorial judgment.
- Outdated clichés will not be used. Examples: hike, for rise or increase; hail for ́praise; nab for arrest; probe (in text) for investigate or inquire into, jetting in for flying in.
- Equally, words such as lash, fire, bash, roast and rap for criticism will not be used in text except in direct speech, and not at all in headlines. Likewise, standard language will be used when using Kiswahili language.
Periodic Reviews of the Editorial Policy Guidelines and Objectives
The Editorial Policy Guidelines and Objectives will be subjected to periodic reviews from time to time. This section deals with specific objectives, which place obligations on each member of the editorial staff.
They should be treated as mandatory expectations in the individual’s day-to-day editorial work.
Kurunzi news and information outlets must remain independent of vested interests or external influences. Its news and information outlets are committed to being comprehensive and accurate in content and their commentaries fair and considered.
Their constant objective is to ascertain and verify the truth of what they publish insofar as this can be established.
Veracity and accuracy in reporting are an integral part of editorial policy and editors will only publish that which they believe to be true, fair and accurate. Every effort will be made to ascertain the factual accuracy of articles through, for instance, cross-checking of facts and the mandatory use of tape-recorders or other recording devices.
All editorial content will be selected for its inherent news value and not to appease, augment or respond to political, commercial or any other interests. In this respect, all advertisements and advertising-related material will be signposted as such. Producers, Editors and journalists must test the value of each story, report or article by interrogating the extent to which it satisfies the “so what?” element.
Editorial Objectives & Guidelines
The following code is intended as a guide for everyone working for Kurunzi News and is based on the premise that all journalists/Producers have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. It is founded on the individual’s fundamental right to be informed and to freely receive and disseminate information.
Accuracy and fairness
- The fundamental objective of a journalist is to report fairly, accurately and without bias on matters of public interest. All sides of a story should be reported. It is important to obtain comments from anyone mentioned in an unfavorable context.
- Whenever it is recognized that an inaccurate, misleading or distorted report has been published, it should be corrected promptly. Corrections should report the correct information and not restate the error except when clarity demands. Ideally, corrections should be made in a regular format and similar position as promptly as possible after the error has been detected.
- Corrections do not normally require an apology and apologies should normally be made on the basis of legal advice.
Opportunity to reply
A fair opportunity to reply to inaccuracies should be given to individuals or organizations when reasonably called for. If the request to correct inaccuracies in a story is in the form of a letter, the editor has the discretion to publish it in full or its abridged and edited version, particularly when it is too long.
However, the editor should not omit or refuse to publish important portions of the reply/rejoinder, which effectively deal with the accuracy of the offending story. If the editor doubts the truth or factual accuracy of the reply/ rejoinder, even then, it is his/her duty to publish it with liberty to append an editorial comment doubting its veracity.
Note that this should be done only when this doubt is reasonably founded on impeccable evidence in the editor’s possession.
The editor should not, in a cavalier fashion, without due application of mind, append such a note as: “We stand by our story.”Letters to the editor
In the case of the print media, an editor who decides to open his columns on a controversial subject is not obliged to publish all the letters received in regard to that subject. He/she may select and publish only some of them either in their entirety or the gist thereof.
However, in exercising this right, he/she must make an honest attempt to ensure that what is published is not one-sided, but presents a fair balance between the pros and cons of the principal issue.
The editor has the discretion to decide at which point to end the debate in the event of a rejoinder upon rejoinder being sent by two or more parties to a controversial subject.
It is our aim not to suppress the publication of letters to the editor merely on account of the editors’ disagreement with the underlying messages or arguments.
In the case of the electronic media, a broadcasting licensee who presents a programme in which controversial issues of public importance are discussed shall make reasonable efforts to fairly present significant points of view either in the same programme or in a subsequent one forming part of the same series of programmes presented within a reasonable period of time in substantially the same time slot.
Additionally, a person whose views have been criticized on a controversial issue of public importance shall be given a reasonable opportunity to reply should he/she so request.
Unnamed sources should not be used unless the pursuit of truth will best be served by not naming the source or in the event the source requests his/her anonymity to be respected. When material is used in a report from sources other than the reporter’s, these sources should be indicated in the story. If unnamed sources are quoted, the article should indicate the reason why the source did not want to be disclosed.
In circumstances where complete confidentiality is assumed as a condition of obtaining the story, that situation needs to be respected and considered according to the existing legal framework. In general, journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.
- Kurunzi News journalists should generally identify themselves and not obtain or seek to obtain information or pictures through misrepresentation or subterfuge.
- Unless in the public interest, documents or photographs should be used only with the express consent of the owner.
- Subterfuge can be justified only in the public interest and only when material cannot be obtained by any other means. The public interest includes: Detecting or exposing crime or serious misdemeanor or anti-social conduct; protecting public health or safety; preventing the public being misled by some statement or action of an individual.
Obscenity, taste and tone in reporting
Kurunzi News not publish anything that is obscene, vulgar or offensive to public good taste. A story, photograph or drawing/cartoon of questionable taste should have significant news value to justify its usage.
- Generally, what is in good taste is to be determined by the prevailing social norms. But the following basic tests should be applied.
- Is the depiction of a particular scene and the language used likely to be regarded as filthy, revolting, repugnant, dirty or lewd?
- In the same vein, publication of photographs showing dead or mutilated bodies, bloody incidents and abhorrent scenes should be avoided unless the publication of such photographs will serve the larger public interest.
- We must exercise great care and responsibility when presenting programmes when a large number of children are likely to be part of the audience.
- With regards to pictures, the following should offer guidelines:
- Is it vulgar and indecent
- Is it mere pornography’?
- Is its publication meant merely to make money by titillating the sexual feelings of
- adolescents and adults among whom it is intended to circulate? In other words, does it constitute an “unwholesome exploitation” of sex for the sake of money?
- Is it invasive of anyone’s privacy? If this is the case, a further question should then be asked as to whether the use of any such photo is nonetheless justified by a clear and indisputable public interest in doing so.
Paying for news and articles
When money is paid for information, serious questions can be raised about the credibility of that information and the motives of the buyer and seller. Therefore, in principle, Kurunzi News journalists are not supposed to pay for information.
Using someone else’s work without attribution – whether deliberately or thoughtlessly – is a serious ethical breach. However, borrowing ideas from elsewhere is considered fair journalistic practice so long as the source is acknowledged and Kurunzi News journalists are encouraged to appropriately apply those principles within the acceptable ethical framework.
Words directly quoted from sources other than the writer’s own reporting should be attributed. In general, when other work is used as the source of ideas or stylistic inspiration, the final result must be clearly different and distinguishable as the original work of the reporter.
In general, the media should avoid prejudicial or pejorative references to a person’s race, tribe, clan, religion, sex or sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness, handicap or political orientation. These details should be eschewed unless they are germane to the story. Everyone should be accorded equal treatment as news subjects or sources and journalists should not deliberately deny the right of any group to exposure in the media.
Generally, a reference to one’s nationality (e.g. Ugandan, Kenyan, or Tanzanian) is less contentious than a reference to race (e.g. white/black).
Recording interviews and telephone conversations
Except in rare and justifiable cases, Kurunzi News journalists should not tape anyone in the course of an interview without that person’s knowledge and agreement. An exception may be made only if the recording is necessary to protect the journalist in a legal action or for some other compelling reason such as coverage of public meetings and if other approaches don’t work.
On the other hand, the use of recorders for interviews, speeches or at press conferences with the knowledge of the subject is encouraged to protect against error and to protect against possible charges of misquotation.
The public’s right to know often needs to be weighed vis-a-vis the privacy rights of people in the news. Intrusion and inquiries into an individual’s private life without the person’s consent are not generally acceptable unless public interest is indisputably involved. Public interest must itself be legitimate and not merely based upon prurient or morbid curiosity.
Things concerning a person’s home, family, religion, tribe, health, sexuality or sexual orientation, personal life and private affairs are covered by the concept of privacy except where these impinge or can reasonably be presumed to impinge upon the public well being.
Intrusion into grief or shock
In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries should be carried out and approaches made with sympathy, empathy and discretion.
Even where the law does not prohibit it, journalists should not use for their own profit financial information they receive in advance of its general publication nor should they pass that information to others. They should not write about shares or securities in whose performance they know that they, their close families or associates have a significant financial interest, without disclosing the interest to the editor. They should not buy or sell, either directly or through nominees or agents, shares or securities about which they intend to write about in the near future.
Utmost care should be exercised by journalists in giving any interpretation to financial information.
Conflict of interest and unfair advantage
Kurunzi News practices a policy of zero-tolerance of corrupt practices. In this regard, its journalists and editors must be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know the truth.
Gifts, bribes, brown envelopes, favours, free travel, free meals or drinks, special treatment or privileges can compromise the integrity of journalists, editors and their employers.
Journalists, editors and every member of Kurunzi News staff should conduct themselves in a manner that protects them from conflicts of interest, real or apparent. It is important not only to avoid conflicts of interest but also the appearances of such conflicts. In this connection, all situations capable of creating undue familiarity will be avoided or handled cautiously.
In addition, journalists and editors must not allow their political or religious affiliations; views or morals and ethics influence their editorial judgment.
Innocent relatives and friends
The media should generally avoid identifying relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime, or otherwise unfavorably featured in news stories, unless the reference to them is necessary for the full, fair and accurate reporting of the crime, legal or other proceedings.
Acts of violence
We should avoid presenting acts of violence, armed robberies, banditry and terrorist activities in a manner that glorifies such anti-social conduct. Also, newspapers should not allow their columns to be used for writings which have a tendency to encourage or glorify social evils, warlike activities, ethnic, racial or religious hostilities.
Ethnic disputes/clashes/conflict interstate conflicts
News, views or comments relating to ethnic or religious disputes/clashes/interstate conflicts should be published after proper verification of facts and presented with due caution, balance and restraint in a manner which is conducive to the creation of an atmosphere congenial to national harmony, reconciliation, amity and peace.
Sensational, provocative and alarming headlines are to be avoided.
News reports or commentaries should not be written or broadcast in a manner likely to inflame the passions, aggravate the tension or accentuate the strained relations between the parties concerned. Equally so, content with the potential to exacerbate communal animosity or national conflict should be avoided. Headlines not to be sensationally provocative, and must justify the matter printed below them.
In general, provocative and sensational headlines should be avoided; headings must reflect and justify the matter printed under them; headings containing allegations made in statements should either identify the body or the source making it within the same headline or at least carry quotation marks.
The media/journalists should, as a matter of caution, avoid unfair and unwarranted criticism which by innuendo attributes an oblique or extraneous motive to a judge or any judicial officer for performing an act in the course of his/her official duties even if such criticism does not in law amount to contempt of court.
The editor shall assume responsibility for all matters, including advertisements, published in the print media or broadcast on radio or television.
Comment, conjecture and fact
Journalists should distinguish clearly in their reports between comments, conjecture and facts. More importantly, they should write in such a manner that the reader is able to distinguish between comments, conjecture and facts.
Protection of children
Children should not be identified in cases concerning sexual offenses, whether as victims, witnesses or defendants. In particular, a TV broadcast, that for reasons of completeness cannot avoid using footage where such children are a central theme, must use every trick in the book to mask their identities.
Except in matters of public interest, like in cases of child abuse or abandonment, journalists should not normally interview or photograph children on subjects involving their personal welfare in the absence of or without the consent of a parent or other adult who is responsible for the children.
Children should not be approached or photographed while at school without the permission of the school authorities.
Victims of sex crimes
The media should not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification. Such exposure does not serve any legitimate journalistic or public interest and may bring social opprobrium to the victims and social embarrassment to their relations, family, friends, community or religious order to which they belong. Editors have a moral obligation to ensure they leave no margin whatsoever that could lead to the identification of such victims.
Use of pictures and names
As a general rule, the media should apply caution in the use of pictures and names and avoid publication or distribution where there is a possibility of harming the person(s) concerned unless there is a substantial public interest served by such use. There should be no identification of a person or persons in a photograph unless their identity is absolutely certain.
Pre-publication verification of reports
Whenever editors receive a report, photograph, radio or television programme or video containing defamatory or derogatory imputations or comments touching on the public conduct or character of an individual or organization, they should, before using the information, check, with due care and attention, its factual accuracy with the person or organization concerned to elicit comments or reaction and publish the same.
If responsibility is disclaimed, this determination shall be explicitly stated beforehand.
Kurunzi News will not allow any advertisement or commercial that is contrary to these ethical principles.
In conclusion, Content Creators should regularly refer to these guidelines to assist them in structuring their writing, production and presentation to the required standards. Performance will be judged on their ability to interpret and implement these guidelines.