Integrity

Integrity requires us to adhere to the highest ethical standards of our profession and to the values enshrined in the Reuters Trust Principles. All employees have a responsibility to ensure that the reputation of Reuters retains its high standing with whomever we come into contact. As a member of the Reuters team, you are expected to accept certain responsibilities, adhere to acceptable professional standards in matters of personal conduct and exhibit a high degree of personal integrity at all times. When operating outside of your home country, you must also have due regard for all relevant local legislation and regulations and act with appropriate respect for local culture and custom.


Contents

Identifying ourselves as journalists

Reuters journalists do not obtain news by deception. We identify ourselves at all times as working for Reuters. We do not pass ourselves off as something other than a journalist, nor do we pretend to be from other news organisations.

Circumstances may arise when an assumption is made about who we are. It may be appropriate to allow that assumption to persist in the interests of news gathering. Staff should apply common sense and the spirit of our Thomson Reuters Code of Conduct in determining what to do. In all cases, we must identify ourselves as Reuters journalists if challenged.

Reporting from the Internet

We are committed to aggressive journalism in all its forms, including in the field of computer-assisted reporting, but we draw the line at illegal behaviour. Internet reporting is nothing more than applying the principles of sound journalism to the sometimes unusual situations thrown up in the virtual world. The same standards of sourcing, identification and verification apply. Take the same precautions online as you would in other forms of newsgathering and do not use anything from the Internet that is not sourced in such a way that you can verify where it came from. For further guidance on the use of the Internet to report see the section of this Handbook, REPORTING FROM THE INTERNET.

Insider trading

Insider trading is the buying or selling of the securities of any company (including Reuters) while in possession of material, non-public information about it. Tipping is the improper disclosure of such information. You would be guilty of insider trading or tipping if, while possessing information that is not in the public domain about a company, you bought or sold securities or gave to a third party information on the basis of which they bought, sold or retained securities.

Reuters forbids its staff to participate in insider trading and/or tipping information that could have an impact – negative or positive – on the price of Reuters shares or any other company’s shares or securities. These are grounds for dismissal. We must avoid not only impropriety but also any appearance of impropriety. Insider trading and tipping are also criminal offences in many countries and carry heavy penalties.

These guidelines are based on U.S. law, perhaps the most stringent of any country on this issue. The definition of a company security is all-embracing. Information is considered material if it is likely to affect the market price of a security and there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable investor would attach importance to it in deciding whether to buy, sell or hold a security. It is irrelevant whether the information is factual or speculative or whether it is generated inside or outside Reuters. Examples of material information include: information about contemplated mergers or acquisitions, impending bankruptcy, business plans, proposed sale or purchase of assets, pending government reports and statistics, e.g. the consumer price index, financial forecasts, earnings estimates, changes in management and the gain or loss of a substantial customer or supplier.

Information is considered non-public until it has been publicly disclosed (in a major news publication or on a wire service, in a public filing made to a regulatory agency or in materials sent to shareholders) and the market has had time to absorb and react to the information. It should be assumed that information obtained in the course of employment by Reuters is non-public. The fact that rumours about this information may be circulating, even if they are widespread, does not mean the information is public and does not relieve you from the obligation to treat the information as non-public. For fuller guidance see the Legal Dangers section of this Handbook.

Dealing with sources

Sources must be cultivated by being professionally polite and fair. The Reuters Code of Conduct applies when it comes to relationships with sources that involve gifts, travel, and opportunities that result from inside information. The basic rule is that we pay our own way. We encourage staff to cultivate sources but also expect them to be conscious of the need to maintain a detachment from them. We should not cultivate or associate with sources on one side of an issue to a point where there are grounds to question whether the relationship has exceeded the bounds of proper, professional contact. While it is appropriate to entertain sources, including outside working hours, regularly spending substantial leisure time with them may raise a potential conflict or a perception of bias. A good measure of the propriety of the relationship is to ask whether you would be comfortable spending as much time with another source on a different side of the issue or your beat. If in doubt, seek guidance from your manager.

A romantic or family attachment with a news source or with a person or persons who might be the subject of a staff member’s coverage should be disclosed to the appropriate manager. Journalists may also not report on or quote family members in order to avoid a perception of favouritism or bias.

Dealing with customers

Many of our customers are often also our news sources or the subjects of the news we report. Our relationship with them should be governed by the professional behaviours required of journalists. It is essential in our dealings with clients that we should be courteous, helpful and attentive when they approach us with concerns or questions about our news service or about specific reports. We also need to pay attention in our dealings with clients as journalists to the clear line that separates the editorial and commercial functions of Reuters. While we may discuss news issues and the news functionality of our products, it would be inappropriate for journalists to negotiate sales contracts with clients or potential customers.

We should avoid misrepresenting ourselves to clients, avoid defaming our competitors and avoid encouraging clients to divulge information about them in a manner that would breach their obligation to those competitors.

Dealing with people

A reputation for accurate, balanced reporting is one of our biggest assets. We must not shy away from painful reality, but we should also seek to minimise any harm to the public through our actions. The people who make the news are vulnerable to the impact of our stories. In extreme cases, their lives or their reputations could depend on our reporting.

When covering people in the news, Reuters journalists:

  • Avoid needless pain and offence
  • Treat victims with sensitivity
  • Eschew gossip about the private lives of public figures
  • Avoid sensationalism and hype
  • Seek clear, unambiguous accounts of the facts
  • Are on alert for spin and other forms of media manipulation
  • Are wary of assumptions and bias, including our own as journalists

A Reuters journalist shows integrity, impartiality, persistence, accountability and humility when covering people. When these principles are applied, we should be able to defend any story to ourselves, our sources and our readers. Fuller guidance can be found in REPORTING ABOUT PEOPLE.

Dealing with competitors

Reuters engages in vigorous competition to report the news first and best. At the same time, we compete fairly, without placing obstacles in the way of our competitors. We want information about our competitors but must take care that the way we collect that information, and how we share it and use it, is not improper or illegal. We acknowledge when our competitors obtain exclusive news that is of value to our customers by attributing it to them clearly in pickups, just as we would expect from them.

We do not “do deals” with our competitors on covering the news, trade material with them or divulge information to rivals about editorial or corporate policies and operations. We should cooperate when justified in circumstances when to do so would reduce the risk to life and limb or when access to an event is restricted and it is in everyone’s interest to pool information or images. We may also cooperate with our competitors on matters of mutual interest such as staff safety, government regulation, and legal and other legitimate action to protect the rights of the media.

Dealing with complaints

The Reuters reputation for getting it right and reporting it fairly is something we should be proud of. It is a key part of attracting and keeping clients. Sometimes we do get it wrong, and it is important for our reputation to fix it when we do. Responding promptly and properly to complaints that we have not been accurate, balanced or ethical can avoid what could become costly legal problems, or widespread bad publicity. Complaints from any quarter – a source, a client, a member of the public, or a colleague in another part of Reuters – must be investigated promptly so that immediate corrective action can be taken if it proves to be well founded. Complaints that cannot be immediately investigated must be acknowledged at once and followed up quickly. They should be handled at a senior level in the bureau or on the desk.

Remember throughout the process of dealing with complaints that attitude counts. Getting mad or sounding overtly hostile may only make the person raising an issue more determined to press forward and less inclined to listen to what we have to say. It may help if you try to think of what you’re hearing as feedback or constructive criticism, rather than simply a complaint. Full guidance on what to do can be found in DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS.

Dealing with the authorities

Any requests for published or unpublished Reuters content (e.g. video tapes, copies of stories, photographs or journalists’ notes or other background materials) from police, security forces, tribunals and the like or from lawyers or individuals involved in civil or criminal court proceedings should be referred to a senior editor who should alert the legal department.

We have a duty to report the truth, to challenge censorship and seek ways of breaking news of major public interest. We do not voluntarily hand over unpublished material to authorities. Where appropriate, we will consider filing lawful challenges to court orders or subpoenas that would seek to compel disclosure of such material. This is for the safety of Reuters staff and in order to preserve Reuters reputation of independence and freedom from bias.

In dealing with any request for material, distinguish between published and unpublished material. If the request relates to published Reuters content, we may refer the person making the request to the various commercial services that offer such material: Factiva for news reports, RPA for pictures and ITN for video footage, as these services are generally available to the public.

Dealing with each other

Teamwork is crucial to our success at Reuters and one of our greatest strengths. Joint planning and cooperation by staff in all disciplines – text, news pictures, TV and graphics – is not only expected, but is required if we are to take full advantage of our position. We share information, ideas, non-confidential contacts and the burden of coverage.

Reuters supports the right of every employee in editorial to contribute ideas, suggestions and positive criticisms of what we do and how we do it. The Company also recognises that every employee has the right to work in an environment free from harassment, intimidation or offensive behaviour and one in which any issue of harassment will be resolved without reprisal or breach of confidentiality. Staff should feel able to raise concerns about standards and ethics and report any perceived breach of our high standards to their manager without fear of recrimination.All employees are expected to take personal responsibility for upholding our standards by treating with dignity and respect, all job applicants, fellow employees, customers, contract and temporary personnel and any other individuals associated with Reuters.

Reporting incidents

The internal reporting of serious incidents involving harm or risk to staff, significant problems with stories or images, hoaxes and allegations of improper behaviour is an important part of any manager’s job. Non-managerial staff who become aware of any such incident must report it to their supervisor. The reporting of such incidents is essential to keep senior company officials up to date on situations that affect staff and operations or which have the potential to embarrass Reuters or affect the company’s reputation. A report from one part of the world – on an attempted hoax, for example – can also provide an important tip-off to managers in another part of the world. We also need to be able to spot trends and take precautions if a pattern is discerned, instead of treating each “incident” as a once-off. Managers should familiarise themselves with the guidelines for DEALING WITH THREATS, DANGEROUS SITUATIONS AND INCIDENTS INVOLVING REUTERS OR ITS STAFF.

Life outside Reuters

Please see the companywide Thomson Reuters Code of Conduct. The section on the use of computer and communication systems permits staff to make incidental personal use of Reuters e-mail and other communications facilities, including the Internet. As members of editorial, however, we have a special responsibility to ensure that there can be no confusion between our professional activities and our private interests or personal opinions. For example, expressions of political opinion or investment advice in e-mails sent on company systems to outside addresses breach our Code of Conduct in so far as they identify Reuters with a cause or position. They can result in disciplinary action, including dismissal.

Other circumstances may arise when similar perceptions of a conflict could occur. A reporter covering the power industry, for example, would be wrong to e-mail a complaint about overcharging to his or her electricity company using Reuters systems. Staff in any doubt about what can appropriately be sent on Reuters e-mail systems should err on the side of caution and use a private e-mail address or consult their manager.

Staff should not conduct private correspondence using company stationery. They should not use their Reuters identity cards or their position as a journalist to obtain benefits and advantages that are not available to the general public.

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