Code of Journalistic Ethics

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At the very core of the mission of BenarNews is strict adherence to the highest standards of journalism. BenarNews, a unit of Radio Free Asia, is funded by an annual grant from the United States Agency for Global Media but retains full editorial independence from the U.S. Government. All BenarNews journalists must conduct themselves professionally and ethically and promote the highest standards of journalism, in accordance with the following basic principles:

  • BenarNews journalists are expected to be responsible for the accuracy of their work. Reports and other content must be accurate, balanced and objective. Information must be verified before it is released, with priority placed on the use of original sources, when possible. Information must be collected, updated, and corrected throughout the life of a news story.
  • BenarNews journalists must maintain a calm, dispassionate tone in their professional conduct and reporting, and avoid polemics, propaganda, or slurs directed against any persons, groups, or governments. BenarNews journalists must represent all points of view without bias and avoid engaging in advocacy or commentary that advances an opinion or position over fact-based, responsible journalism.
  • BenarNews journalists must not encourage acts of violence, rebellion or emigration. When reporting on terrorism, extremism, or threats of violence, BenarNews journalists must: be alert to and guard against potential harm to themselves and others; and not allow BenarNews to be used as a platform for extremist propaganda or violent threats. BenarNews journalists/editors must consult with the Deputy Managing Editor of the Managing Editor, before publishing any material that could place BenarNews at risk of being used as a platform for such a purpose.
  • BenarNews journalists must not include rumor, misinformation, or unsubstantiated information and conspiracy theories in any report or other content without referring to it as such.
  • Whenever possible, they must seek and obtain more than one source for a story. Sources should be identified, when possible, or enough information provided so consumers of BenarNews content may decide for themselves about the veracity of information and perspectives shared through these sources. However, when needed, BenarNews journalists must take precautions to protect/not endanger news sources and respect wishes for anonymity.
  • If a BenarNews journalist makes a material error in a broadcast or published BenarNews story, commentary, or shared content, the journalist and language service must promptly acknowledge the error and issue a correction, typically via the same communication medium in which the error was disseminated.
  • BenarNews journalists must give full credit, with attribution, when using any part of another news organization’s or media source’s interviews, reports, or materials.
  • Any photos, videos, or other visual material that BenarNews journalists publish must adhere to BenarNews’ editorial guidelines.
  • BenarNews journalists must remain independent of any political party, opposition group, exile organization, or religious body in the countries to which BenarNews reports and content are disseminated, and must not advocate any political viewpoint potentially compromising or being perceived as compromising BenarNews’ objectivity or impartiality. BenarNews journalists are expected to also maintain political neutrality on social media regardless of the region they are commenting on.
  • BenarNews journalists must clearly identify outside contributors and, in any commentary, include a disclaimer that the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of BenarNews. Commentary must be clearly labeled as such. In each case, BenarNews retains the right to edit the work of outside contributors and make the final decision as to what goes into a report or other piece of content.
  • BenarNews journalists must not accept anything of value such as gifts, favors, or other inducements from news sources or others who might be – or perceived to be – in a position to influence BenarNews’ reports and other content. Gifts of token value ($20 or less) may be accepted but must be disclosed to supervisors and, if deemed inappropriate, returned with a polite explanation.
  • BenarNews journalists must not take on work or activities outside of BenarNews that would infringe on their responsibilities to BenarNews. Anyone who wants to pursue such an outside responsibility or activity, including the making of speeches or other public appearances that could affect perceptions of BenarNews, must obtain prior approval as provided in the Conflict of Interests policy.
  • In their work for BenarNews, journalists must not identify or present themselves as representing any other entity or media organization, government body, or nongovernmental organization.
  • Any breach of the BenarNews Code of Journalistic Ethics and editorial guidelines may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
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