Ethics Policy

Spot News 18 is committed to journalism that involves a responsible, honest, objective and fair pursuit of facts, without any partisan and political affiliation or allegiance to special interest groups. Our guiding philosophy is liberal on society, liberal on the economy.

We pledge to generate content that reflects and fosters the openness of public discourse outside the newsroom and sets a benchmark for quality and integrity. We are accountable to the trust readers invest in us by capturing the news, debate and opinion transparently and avoids conflicts of interest.

Ethics Policy

This Ethics Policy guides and mandates public, online, professional and personal conduct expected of every employee of Spot News 18. The reputation of Spot News 18 rests on the behaviour of each of its employees.

This document is a binding commitment for all Spot News 18 and is signed by them in acknowledgement. All non-editorial employees also acknowledge and understand this code and commit to avoiding doing anything that violates its principles.

All the content produced under Spot News 18 banner (by employees, guests and contributors) must be put through the highest standards of professional due diligence, rigour, accuracy, fairness and integrity that this code demands.

This document will be periodically updated and reviewed to respond to the rapidly changing media landscape and the evolving rules of engagement in news generation and consumption.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Spot News 18’s credibility rests on establishing uncompromising standards to avoid conflict of interest or even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

No employee of Spot News 18 will sign a public petition unless the organisation is participating in the cause.

No employee of Spot News 18 will donate money to political parties or groups that champion political causes.

Any connections with the government, business, or civil society groups must be avoided or reported to supervisors. Even part-time assignments or associations, whether paid or unpaid, will compromise our independence.

We must create rigid walls between ourselves and the subjects we cover and avoid active involvement in any partisan causes – politics, social action, demonstrations – that could compromise our independent ability to report, write and edit pretty. Any such association that is likely to create conflict must be reported to the editors. When we attend an event that we advocate, we must represent ourselves as employees of Spot News 18. We must at no point become participants. Affiliations, memberships or endorsements have the potential to damage our credibility.

EXTERNAL ENGAGEMENTS

We work for no one except Spot News 18, and any freelance assignment must have the supervisors’ approval. Writing for another publication – online or print – must be done only after permission is given. The article published elsewhere must identify the writer as part of the Spot News 18 group. Writing under an assumed name is prohibited.

Accepting speaking engagements at conferences and seminars – paid and unpaid – must be cleared with the Editor.

ADVERTISERS

Advertisers or marketing concerns will not influence our news, analysis or opinion.

Advertisements will be marked in such a way that they are easily distinguishable from news content. Sponsored editorial features at Spot News 18 will be clearly labelled and visibly different from editorial content.

CONDUCT

Spot News 18 staff will not accept expensive gifts from people in position or from people or institutions we cover. If skills appear inappropriate, expensive, or if the intention is suspect, Spot News 18 employees must immediately inform the Editor.

Spot News 18 employees must not accept favours and hospitality. Free invitations to ticketed events must be declined unless the purpose is to cover the event or if the seat is in the press gallery. There are some exceptions like invitations to meals.

The material provided to Spot News 18 employees in the course of work belongs to the organisation and must not be resold. These may include books, DVDs, pen drives, gadgets etc.

Spot News 18 employees will not use their press credentials to get out of situations where a law is broken. Spot News 18 employees will not seek commercial discounts that are not available to the general public.

We must not accept preferential treatment because of the position we hold as employees of a media group.

Spot News 18 employees must be carefully free of obligation to news sources and special interests. Our private behaviour and our professional behaviour must not bring discredit to our profession or Spot News 18.

Any disclosure after an alleged breach of ethics will not be considered as a mitigating factor.

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES

Spot News 18employees must not buy or sell shares using information accessed by the organisation before publication. Editorial employees of Spot News 18 will not trade in derivatives. Any shares bought must be held for at least one year. The total shareholding (including those of their immediate family, parents in case of single spouses) is disclosed every six months in a closed envelope to the supervisors.

All employees of Spot News 18 who cover business and financial matters must disclose their financial holdings and investments to the Editor-in-Chief and avoid the potential for conflict.

Spot News 18 will disclose any sponsorship arrangement that may also be the subject of an editorial feature.

ATTRIBUTION

At Spot News 18, sources will be identified whenever possible. If a citation is not named, Spot News 18 will provide a close description of the person – some identification by the ministry, organisation or position, for example – to disclose possible prejudice.

Spot News 18will also give a reason for not revealing their identity. When we agree to protect a source’s identity, it will not be disclosed to anyone outside Spot News 18.

No pseudonyms are to be used. We work with full disclosure of our identity, motives and methods.

Featuring tweets in an article is fine, but using private Facebook posts of others in the copy without consent is prohibited. Public posts on Facebook can be used or quoted only after consulting the Editor or in extraordinary situations.

PLAGIARISM

Plagiarism is a cardinal sin. Content sourced from other media sources or organisations must be attributed and not plagiarised. Lifting text, quotes and images without attribution is plagiarism. Images will not be digitally altered without disclosure.

EXTERNAL LINKS

Employees of Spot News 18cannot be members of the board of another company or foundation – for-profit or non-profit entity – without the supervisor’s permission.

Spot News 18 employees must not engage in political advocacy – either as members of a political party or an organisation concerned with political change – without the Editor’s prior consent.

Spot News 18employees will send entries to award competitions only with the express approval of the Editor and disclose any likely conflict of interest in such competitions.

Invitation to an employee of Spot News 18 to travel out of the city/country, arranged by another organisation/business, needs to be cleared by the Editor. Any coverage based on such a trip will carry a clear disclosure that the visit was sponsored/hosted.

COPYRIGHT

Content from stories, interviews, videos, Twitter engagements, Facebook Lives that employees of Spot News 18 participate in is the property of Spot News 18. Anyone intending to write or assemble a book or article based on material must first obtain consent from the Editor.

STING OPERATIONS

No journalist of Spot News 18 will obtain information by misrepresenting or hiding their identity. There will be no exceptions made to this rule.

Blackmailing or threatening a source to part with information or promising positive coverage in return for information is strictly prohibited.

DISCRIMINATION

Spot News 18 will not publish offensive words, profanities and obscenities unless they are germane to the article. But even then, it is the decision of the Editor.

Spot News 18 will not publish offensive, biased references to a person’s religion, caste, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, unless directly relevant to the story.

ERRORS

Spot News 18 is committed to minimising and correct errors that occur. Readers who point out errors in our content must be treated with respect and thanked. When a correction is made, a line must acknowledge the mistake in the previous versions of the copy. Anything unfair or factually inaccurate will be duly acknowledged, with regret were called for.

FAIRNESS & BALANCE

Spot News 18 journalists are committed to producing content without prejudice or malice. Reporters must give reasonable time and opportunity to respond to those who are being mentioned adversely.

This Ethics Policy contains the fundamental guiding principles for Spot News 18 employees. It is a living document and will evolve as fresh ideas and issues emerge in the fast-changing media environment.