What Makes a Reuters Journalist?
There are many different types of journalism practised in Reuters, across text, television, picture services and online. No one definition of our craft applies to them all. What must unite us is honesty and integrity. We often face difficult choices in the pursuit of better stories and superior images. In such situations there are several “right” answers, and the rules we use run out. We can, however, guard against damage to our reputation through a shared understanding of the fundamental principles that govern our work.
The 10 Hallmarks of Reuters Journalism
- Follow the Trust Principles in all activities related to Reuters News
- Hold accuracy sacrosanct
- Seek fair comment
- Correct errors transparently
- Strive for balance and freedom from bias
- Disclose potential or actual conflicts of interest to a manager
- Avoid injecting unattributed opinion in a news story
- Do not fabricate or plagiarise
- Do not alter still images or video footage beyond the methods normally used to prepare content for editorial use
- Do not pay for information or accept a bribe or trade on privileged information
Reuters is transparent about errors. We rectify them promptly, clearly and comprehensively, whether in a story, a caption, a graphic or a script.
Accuracy entails honesty in sourcing. Our reputation for that accuracy, and for freedom from bias, rests on the credibility of our sources. A Reuters journalist or camera is generally the best source on a witnessed event. In most circumstances, a named source is preferable to an unnamed source. We should never deliberately mislead in our sourcing, quote a source saying one thing on the record and something contradictory on background, or cite sources in the plural when we have only one.
Here are some tips:
- Use named sources wherever possible because they are responsible for the information they provide, even though we remain liable for accuracy, balance and legal dangers. Press your sources to go on the record.
- Reuters will use unnamed sources where necessary when they provide information of market or public interest that is not available on the record. We alone are responsible for the accuracy of such information.
- When talking to sources, make sure the ground rules are clear. Take notes and where allowed, record interviews.
- Cross-check information wherever possible. Two or more sources are better than one. In assessing information from unnamed sources, weigh the source’s track record, position and motive. Use your common sense. If it sounds wrong, check further.
- Talk to sources on all sides of a deal, dispute, negotiation or conflict.
- Be honest in sourcing and in obtaining information. Give as much context and detail as you can about sources, whether named or anonymous, to authenticate information they provide. Be explicit about what you don’t know.
- Reuters will publish news from a single, anonymous source in exceptional cases, when it is credible information from a trusted source with direct knowledge of the situation. Single-source stories are subject to a special authorisation procedure.
- A source’s compact is with Reuters, not with the reporter. If asked on legitimate editorial grounds, you are expected to disclose your source to your supervisor. Protecting the confidentiality of sources, by both the reporter and supervisor, is paramount.
- When doing initiative reporting, try to disprove as well as prove your story.
- Accuracy always comes first. It’s better to be late than wrong. Before pushing the button, think how you would withstand a challenge or a denial.
- Know your sources well. Consider carefully if the person you are communicating with is an imposter. Sources can provide information by whatever means available – telephone, in person, email, instant messaging, text message. But be aware that any communication can be interfered with.
Quotes are sacrosanct. They must never be altered other than to delete a redundant word or clause, and then only if the deletion does not alter the sense of the quote in any way. Selective use of quotes can be unbalanced. Be sure that quotes you use are representative of what the speaker is saying and that you describe body language (a smile or a wink) that may affect the sense of what is being reported. When quoting an individual, always give the context or circumstances of the quote.
It is not our job to make people look good by cleaning up inelegant turns of phrase, nor is it our job to expose them to ridicule by running such quotes. In most cases, this dilemma can be resolved by paraphrase and reported speech. Where it cannot, reporters should consult a more senior journalist to discuss whether the quote can be run verbatim. Correcting a grammatical error in a quote may be valid, but rewording an entire phrase is not. When translating quotes from one language into another, we should do so in an idiomatic way rather than with pedantic literalness. Care must be taken to ensure that the tone of the translation is equivalent to the tone of the original. Beware of translating quotes in newspaper pickups back into the original language of the source. If a French politician gives an interview to an American newspaper, it is almost certain that the translation back into French will be wrong and in some cases the quote could be very different. In such cases, the fewer quotes and the more reported speech, the better.
Accuracy means that our images and stories must reflect reality. It can be tempting for journalists to “hype” or sensationalise material, skewing the reality of the situation or misleading the reader or viewer into assumptions and impressions that are wrong and potentially harmful. A “flood” of immigrants, for example, may in reality be a relatively small number of people just as a “surge” in a stock price may be a quite modest rise. Stopping to think, and to discuss, how we use words leads to more precise journalism and also minimises the potential for harm. Similarly, no actions in visual journalism should be taken that add to or detract from the reality of images. In some circumstances, this may constitute fabrication and can cause serious damage to our reputation. Such actions may lead to disciplinary measures, including dismissal.
Datelines and bylines
Accuracy is paramount in our use of datelines and bylines. Readers assume that the byline shows the writer was at the dateline. We should byline stories only from datelines where the writer (or the reporter being written up on a desk) was present. We may only use datelines where we have staff or freelancers on the spot from text, photos or TV and we are getting information from them on the ground. Reporters or freelancers who have contributed to a report should be included in an additional-reporting line at the end of the story, giving their name and location.
Accuracy means proper attribution to the source of material that is not ours, whether in a story, a photograph or moving images. Our customers and the public rely on us to be honest about where material has originated. It allows them to assess the reliability.
It is insufficient simply to label video or a photograph as “handout.” We should clearly identify the source – for example “Greenpeace Video” or “U.S. Army Photo.” Similarly, it is essential for transparency that material we did not gather ourselves is clearly attributed in stories to the source, including when that source is a rival organisation. Failure to do so may open us to charges of plagiarism.
Reuters aims to report the facts, not rumours. Clients rely on us to differentiate between fact and rumour and our reputation rests partly on that. There are times when rumours affect financial markets and we have a duty to tell readers why a market is moving and to try to track down the rumour – to verify it or knock it down. There may be exceptional circumstances when a market is moving so rapidly and so violently that we move a story before being able to verify or knock down the rumour.
Graphic images and obscenities
In the course of our work, we witness and record scenes of a violent or sexually graphic nature. As journalists, we have an obligation to convey the reality of what we report accurately, yet a duty to be aware that such material can cause distress, damage the dignity of the individuals concerned or even in some cases so overpower the viewer or reader that a rational understanding of the facts is impaired. We do not sanitise violence, bowdlerise speech or euphemise sex. We should not, however, publish graphic images and details or obscene language gratuitously or with an intention to titillate or to shock. There must be a valid news reason for running such material and it will usually require a decision by a senior editor. In all cases, we need to consider whether the material is necessary to an understanding of the reality portrayed or described. We should also be mindful that our customers in different markets often have different thresholds and needs. Graphic material which we might send to our wholesale broadcast clients may not be suitable for use online in our consumer business.
Packaged videos must be preceded by a screen reading “Warning: Graphic Content” and RAW videos must contain a warning in their scripts and slates.
Independence is the essence of our reputation as a “stateless” global news organisation and fundamental to the trust that allows us to report impartially from all sides of a conflict or dispute. It is crucial to our ability to report on companies, institutions and individuals in the financial markets, many of whom are also our customers, without regard for anything other than accuracy, balance and the truth. Our independence stems not only from the structure of Reuters but also from our duty as journalists to avoid conflicts of interest or situations that could give rise to a perception of a conflict. What follows is not an exhaustive list of conflicts that might arise. If you think that there is a potential for conflict in any of your activities, you should raise this with your manager.
You must not allow any investments held by you or your immediate family to influence you in your work for Reuters. You should not report on or edit stories about entities or companies in which you or an immediate family member has an interest, and you should not trade in anything that would create the reality or optics of a conflict.
Declaring financial interests
Whether you are reporting news, financial information or other subjects you should ensure that no circumstances exist which could give rise to a suspicion of bias on the part of Reuters. The Thomson Reuters Code of Conduct details Reuters’ requirements and responsibilities pertaining to your personal investments and access to material nonpublic information. Failure to adhere to the standard it details will be subject to the disciplinary procedures in force in the location where any infraction occurs.
Work outside Reuters
You may not engage in paid work outside Reuters unless your manager has given you permission in advance. This would include, for example, writing a book or articles, addressing a conference or commercial or news photography. Permission will be routinely granted if the activities do not affect Reuters. NewsGuild members in the United States are not required to seek permission to take a second job unless it could be considered in competition with Reuters.
Checking back with sources
Reuters does not submit stories, scripts or images to sources to vet before publication. This breaches our independence. We may, of our own volition, check back with a source to verify a quote or to satisfy ourselves about the reliability of factual information but we also need to ensure that in doing so we do not give sources an opportunity to retract or materially alter a quote or information to their advantage.
Interview subjects or their organisations or companies sometimes ask to see the quotes we plan to publish or broadcast before they are issued. We should resist such requests where possible. If we do have to submit quotes for approval, we should not agree to a quote being materially changed.
Gifts and entertainment
The Thomson Reuters Code of Conduct reminds journalists that they must not accept any payment, gift, service or benefit (whether in cash or in kind) offered by a news source or contact. In some societies it is traditional to offer or receive gifts on special occasions, such as secular or religious holidays. To refuse such a gift may cause offence, and in weighing what to do, a journalist must be mindful of a society’s culture and traditions. A good test of whether to accept the gift or politely decline is the value of the item. A traditional gift of purely nominal value may be appropriate to accept. A gift of more than nominal value should be declined, using an explanation of our policies. If a gift of some value proves impossible to decline, it should be surrendered to the journalist’s manager. If you cannot decide whether the gift is of greater than nominal value, assume that it is. Staff in any doubt about how to behave should discuss the appropriate action with their manager.
In the course of gathering news, journalists are often invited to breakfasts, luncheons or dinners. As long as such occasions are newsworthy, it may be appropriate to accept the hospitality provided it is within reason. We do not accept “junkets” – events that have little if any value to our newsgathering such as an invitation to a free holiday, an evening’s entertainment or a sporting event at the expense of a news source. Accepting such hospitality when there is no news value might well be seen to create an unreasonable obligation to the source.
Travel and accommodation
News sources, often companies, will sometimes offer journalists free transport or accommodation to get to cover a story. Our standard position is that we pay our own way and make our own travel arrangements. If that is impractical or will restrict access to sources, you must consult your manager about the offer. Permission will normally be given only if the story warrants coverage and to insist on paying would be impractical.
In exceptional circumstances, it may be impossible to get to the news without accepting free travel or accommodation. Such cases might include flying to a remote location to cover a famine story with an aid organisation, taking a military flight to a war zone or interviewing a company CEO on a private jet. Again, journalists must obtain permission from their manager to proceed. In general, we should make every effort to reimburse the relevant entity for what the trip would cost on a commercial flight.
Bribes and other inducements
Under no circumstances should we take or offer payment (whether in cash or in kind) for a news story. Such action is a grave breach of our ethics, undermines our independence and can be grounds for immediate dismissal. Journalists also need to weigh how they entertain sources. Entertainment, however, should not go beyond the bounds of normal, basic hospitality and needs to be in line with Reuters’ policy on bribery, corruption, gifts and entertainment.
Reuters does not use gifts of value, in cash or in kind, to influence sources. In most countries, government officials (and officers of state-owned enterprises) are also restricted in the benefits they can accept for performing their duties, including non-cash benefits. Making an improper offer could also subject Reuters and its employees to fines or imprisonment. Journalists must inform themselves of the relevant restrictions before offering a gift of even nominal worth and seek approval from their manager. Thomson Reuters does not permit facilitation payments.
Independence within Reuters
The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles and the Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company Board of Trustees ensure the independence of Reuters and also the editorial independence of journalists within Reuters. We do not write stories, take photographs or film events to help clinch a sales contract or alter our coverage of a company, government or institution to suit Reuters’ or Thomson Reuters’ commercial interests. Our role is to apply sound news judgment and to produce stories and images that are accurate, fair and balanced. If a colleague from outside editorial raises an issue with a story or image and makes a reasoned argument that it is unbalanced or incorrect, then we have a clear duty to examine the complaint.
Entering competitions and receiving awards
Reuters encourages its employees to submit outstanding work, whether text, visual or graphics, for awards for excellence in journalism from reputable, disinterested sources. Care must be taken to ensure that such action does not come into conflict with the Trust Principles or departmental guidelines. Employees may submit journalistic work produced for Reuters only in contests that are judged by journalists, and with the approval of their manager. Submissions in contests not judged by journalists are generally not permissible and must be approved by Alix Freedman, Ethics and Standards editor, and Heather Carpenter, senior director of communications. Unsolicited awards need similar approval before they can be accepted, as do invitations to sit on a competition jury as a Reuters journalist. No work for Reuters, whether text, visual or graphics, should be produced primarily for submission for an award, nor should it be altered, except to conform to the rules of the competition (e.g., submitted as a Word document).
Employees will normally be given approval to submit work produced for Reuters for awards, including monetary awards, from reputable professional bodies in the news, photographic, television and graphics industries or to sit on the jury for such awards. Approval will not be granted to enter work for awards from companies, institutions, lobby groups, governments, political parties or associations and advocacy groups whose criteria are self-serving or whose aim in granting the award could be construed as an attempt to influence the impartiality and tenor of the recipient’s work or Reuters coverage.
Integrity requires us to adhere to the highest ethical standards of our profession and to the values enshrined in the Thomson 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 local laws and act with appropriate respect for local culture and customs.
Identifying ourselves as journalists
Reuters journalists do not obtain news by deception. 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 directly questioned.
Reporting from the Internet
We are committed to compelling and high-impact journalism in all its forms. Reporting online 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 that is not sourced in such a way that you can verify where it came from.
Insider trading is the buying or selling of the securities of any company (including Thomson Reuters) while in possession of material, non-public information about it. Tipping is the improper disclosure of such information. You could 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 Thomson 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.
Information may be 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 may be 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 may be 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 may not relieve you from the obligation to treat the information as non-public.
Dealing with sources
Sources must be cultivated by being professionally polite and fair. The Thomson 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. 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.
Dealing with people
A reputation for accurate, balanced reporting is one of our biggest assets. 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:
- Treat victims with sensitivity
- Avoid needless pain and offence
- Seek clear, unambiguous accounts of the facts
- Avoid sensationalism and hype
- 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.
Dealing with competitors
Reuters engages in vigorous competition to report the news first and best. It is helpful to obtain information about what our competitors are covering, but we 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
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. When in doubt, escalate to Brian Moss or Alix Freedman in Ethics and Standards.
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.
Dealing with the authorities
Any requests for published or unpublished Reuters content, e.g., video, 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 editorial legal team.
We have a duty to report the truth, to challenge censorship and seek ways of breaking news of major public interest. In dealing with any request for material, distinguish between published and unpublished material. 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 for independence and freedom from bias.
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, 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, nonconfidential 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.
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.
Life outside Reuters
Please see the Thomson Reuters Code of Conduct. The section on the use of computer and communication systems permits staff to make incidental personal use of Reuters email and other communications facilities. 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 emails 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 email a complaint about overcharging to his or her electricity company using Reuters email. Staff in any doubt about what can appropriately be sent using Reuters email should err on the side of caution and use a private email address, or consult their manager.
Staff should not conduct private correspondence using company email or letterhead. 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.
Freedom from bias
Reuters would not be Reuters without freedom from bias. We are a “stateless” news service that welcomes diversity into our newsrooms but asks all staff to park their nationality and politics at the door. This neutrality is a hallmark of our news brand and allows us to work on all sides of an issue, conflict or dispute without any agenda other than accurate, fair reporting. Our customers and our sources value Reuters for that quality and it is one we all must work to preserve.
We must always strive to be scrupulously fair and balanced. Allegations should not be portrayed as fact; charges should not be conveyed as a sign of guilt. We have a duty of fairness to give the subjects of such stories the opportunity to put their side.
Take no side, tell all sides
As Reuters journalists, we never identify with any side in an issue, conflict or dispute. Our text and visual stories need to reflect all sides, not just one. This leads to better journalism because it requires us to stop at each stage of newsgathering and ask ourselves “What do I know?” and “What do I need to know?” In reporting a takeover bid, for example, it should be obvious that the target company must be given an opportunity to state its position. Similarly, in a political dispute or military conflict, there are always at least two sides to consider and we risk being perceived as biased if we fail to give adequate space to the various parties.
This objectivity does not always come down to giving equal space to all sides. The perpetrator of an atrocity or the leader of a fringe political group may warrant less space than the victims or mainstream political parties. We must, however, always strive to be scrupulously fair and balanced. Allegations should not be portrayed as fact; charges should not be conveyed as a sign of guilt. We have a duty of fairness to give the subjects of such stories the opportunity to put their side.
We must also be on guard against bias in our choice of words. Words like “fears” or “hopes” or “insists” might suggest we are taking sides. Verbs like “rebut” or “refute” (which means to disprove) or like “fail” (as in failed to comment) can imply an editorial judgment and are best avoided. Thinking about language can only improve our writing and our journalism.
Opinion and Analysis
Reuters makes a fundamental distinction between our fact-based news stories and clearly labeled opinion pieces.
Reuters journalists do not express their opinions in news stories, voiced video or scripts, or on blogs or chat rooms they may contribute to in the course of their work. This fundamental principle has generated huge trust in Reuters among customers and the public over many years. It holds true for all the types of news that Reuters covers, whether financial or general and in any language or form.
This is not to say that other people’s opinions have no place in our stories. They are very often relevant to the story and are essential for the reader or viewer to understand its meaning and consequences. For that to hold true, quoted opinion must be authoritative and be attributed to a named source.
In our columns and in certain other distinct services we may create, we do allow named authors to express a point of view. We clearly label these pieces as being distinct from the fact-based news file and we will publish disclaimers that say the work does not represent the opinions of Reuters. Those journalists who are allowed to publish point-of-view pieces like columns will express solidly grounded views in their areas of expertise and will not simply provoke with ungrounded assertions or personal attacks.
Discriminatory language and stereotypes
We must avoid inappropriate references to gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, appearance, age, and sexual orientation. A Reuters journalist must be sensitive to unconscious stereotyping and dated assumptions. Is it really novel that the person in the news is Black, blonde, female, overweight or gay? If it is relevant, does the fact belong in the lead or should it be woven in lower down? Our language should be neutral. When referring to professional groups, plural expressions such as executives and journalists are preferable to gender-specific tags that imply the exclusion of women. We should avoid words such as “spokesperson” when describing a role. We should avoid gratuitous references to appearance or attire, while recognising the situations when these details are relevant. Reporters must resist the assumption that their cultural values, religious beliefs or social mores are the norm. We should also be suspicious of country stereotypes – the usually negative notions about a national character. These can be offensive. References to country stereotypes may be valid in certain well-balanced stories, but we should always proceed with caution, even when seeking to challenge or subvert a preconception.
You must not express a personal view in reports on the merits of a particular investment. Reports containing value judgments on investments must be sourced to a named third party. Local laws also impact on our reporting. Reuters reports news. It does not give investment advice and in many countries is prohibited from doing so by law. Reuters journalists should also not give investment advice to customers or readers who solicit such advice by any means including telephone, letter, fax or email.
Reporting on Thomson Reuters
You must take extreme care to avoid any hint of bias when reporting on Thomson Reuters and its corporate affiliates, ensuring that reports are factually based. A Reuters story about Thomson Reuters may be perceived by stock markets and market regulators as the official line on the company.
When reporting on Thomson Reuters and affiliates or quoting officials and analysts from Thomson Reuters and affiliates, it must be stated that these are Thomson Reuters entities.
Here is how to report on Thomson Reuters or a subsidiary or affiliate:
- Any story or pick-up of a story about Thomson Reuters or Reuters must be seen before publication by a Managing or Regional Editor or Desk Head in your region as well as the Global Editor for Ethics and Standards.
- Stories must include comment from a company spokesman. One should always be available in London, New York or Singapore.
- Consistent with our policies, we only should pick up stories which are likely to be market moving or of significant general interest.
Political and Community Activity
Reuters does not give support – directly or indirectly – to any political party or group nor does it take sides in national or international conflicts or disputes in accordance with the Trust Principles. In keeping with this policy you must not identify the Reuters name with any political party or group or any one side in such conflicts or disputes.
Displays of political affiliation or support for partisan causes have no place in our newsrooms. Outside work, Reuters respects the right (and in some countries the obligation) of staff to vote in elections and referendums and does not seek to interfere with that right. The company also recognises that staff enjoy certain fundamental freedoms as a result of their nationality or where they live. Reuters, however, expects journalistic staff in all branches of editorial to be keenly sensitive to the risk that their activities outside work may open their impartiality to questioning or create a perception of bias.
Such perceptions can undermine the integrity not only of the individual but of all journalists at Reuters and damage the company’s reputation. In some societies, individuals who sign petitions or join demonstrations may be monitored by the authorities and evidence could be used to damage their reputation or restrict our newsgathering operations. In other countries, individuals who contribute to political campaign funds have their names on the public record. Again, such evidence may be used by those who would seek to undermine Reuters, its staff or our profession.
A policy designed to protect our standing as a news service free from bias cannot be policed. It relies on trust and an expectation that staff will refrain from activities that might, whatever the intention, raise perceptions of a conflict and that they will consult their manager in any case of doubt. Where such perceptions of a conflict do arise, Reuters may in some cases ultimately require the journalist to move to other duties. Individuals should use their common sense, the Trust Principles and the values of unbiased journalism in deciding whether to donate to certain charitable causes or be active in the affairs of their community. A conflict is unlikely to arise but staff in any doubt should consult their manager. The same principles apply to any doubts about a possible perception of conflict that may arise from the activities of a close family member.
Equal Opportunity in the Newsroom
Reuters is committed to treating its employees fairly, regardless of gender, ethnic, national or religious background, age, disability, marital status, parental status or sexual orientation. Qualified employees will be given consideration for all job openings regardless of any of the above. The selection of employees included for entry to the company, for training, development and promotion should be determined solely on their skills, abilities and other requirements which are relevant to the job and in accordance with the laws in the country concerned.
Diversity in the Newsroom
In our journalism and in our newsroom, we embrace diversity of thought, style, experience, culture, race, color, gender, national origin, religion, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, citizen status, and veteran status. We welcome the varying perspectives, insights and considerations that diversity brings to the debate about the news we gather. Diversity enriches the exchange of ideas that leads to the best journalism.
Media Interviews and Speaking Engagements
Reuters staff are sometimes asked by broadcasters or print publications to give interviews, often through our media relations unit. We encourage such exposure for our journalists and their expertise. If journalists are willing to be interviewed, they should adhere to the following principles:
- Any interviews have to be approved in advance by the journalist’s manager and the communications team.
- Interviews with Reuters own services take precedence.
- The request must come from a credible broadcaster or publication that is unlikely to use the interview for propaganda purposes.
- Correspondents must not give personal opinions and should confine themselves largely to what has been reported by Reuters.
- Correspondents should say nothing that could embarrass Reuters, undermine our reputation for objectivity and impartiality, impair our reporting access or jeopardise staff.
- We must be satisfied that the correspondent is an experienced member of staff upon whom we can rely to act with responsibility and discretion.
- Payment should not be sought or accepted. If inadvertently received, consult with your manager or the global editor for ethics and standards or editorial legal counsel for Reuters.
Reuters editorial staff may attend or speak about their areas of journalistic expertise at seminars, conferences and other forums with the approval of Reuters managers.
When participating in such panels, a Reuters journalist should stick to facts or fact-based analysis. Everything the journalist says must be consistent with the Trust Principles and Reuters editorial guidelines.
Participation in events sponsored by educational institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government entities and the like must be approved by an editor in charge, bureau chief or regional editor. If managers have any questions, they should escalate them to Global Editor for Ethics and Standards Alix Freedman.
Approval to participate in all conferences sponsored by companies (including Thomson Reuters) and other for-profit entities should be sought from Executive Editor Gina Chua and Alix Freedman.
Managers assessing whether to approve participation must ensure that the credentials of the organizers are such that attending the event as a speaker does not undermine Reuters’ reputation for integrity, independence and freedom from bias. Specifically, Reuters staffers should ascertain the purpose of the event and agenda of the sponsors.
Payment for participation in a conference should not be sought nor accepted. An organization (other than Thomson Reuters) ordinarily is not permitted to cover expenses associated with travel and lodging.
Following are some general principles that will help determine whether approval may be given for Reuters editorial staff to participate in a conference:
- Journalists can moderate panels only if Reuters has complete editorial control over the content of questions.
- Journalists will not moderate or participate in panels if any of the panelists have paid the host to participate or are representatives of third-party sponsors.
- Journalists will not moderate or participate in panels whose primary aim is to launch or sell a product.
- Editors can only appear once a year at a particular company’s conferences. This limit does not pertain to events sponsored by Thomson Reuters.
- Reporters who follow a specific company may not participate in that company’s events; editors are permitted to do so.
- Journalists who participate will not offer opinions on specific companies or competitors, but stick to analysis and facts (preferably those already reported by Reuters or other credible media outlets) and a discussion of general topics and trends.
- Press coverage of an event by Reuters is not a condition of participation; it is at the discretion of Reuters editors.
- A Reuters journalist participating in a conference must seek approval from Reuters communications before speaking to outside media on matters regarding the conference.
In addition, at TR-sponsored conferences:
- Reuters staffers may not participate in events where attendees pay for entrée to reporters and editors, thus creating a possible appearance of preferential access.
- Reuters journalists may not participate in conferences where Thomson Reuters sponsors an event with a third party if doing so would conflict with the Trust Principles by undermining our reputation for integrity, independence and freedom from bias. At issue is whether Reuters’ participation in a particular Thomson Reuters business-side event with external sponsorship creates the perception that the external sponsor is buying our endorsement or influencing our news coverage.