Code of Conduct

This policy applies to MetroNews NG and its editorial employees.

Editorial employees means full-time, part-time, fixed-term and casual employees and also contractors, contributors, consultants, freelance photographers, interns and volunteers.

Where the policy states an ‘authorised nominee’ can approve certain decisions, that person must be officially authorised by the relevant executive/s on whose behalf they are acting.

1.0 Accuracy and Reporting

1.1  Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate and not misleading.

1.2  Publications are free to editorialise, campaign and take stances on issues provided they take reasonable steps to fulfil the requirements of 1.3 and 1.4.

1.3  Comment, conjecture and opinion are acceptable in reports to provide perspective on an issue, or explain the significance of an issue, or to allow readers to recognise what the publication’s standpoint is on the matter being reported.

1.4  However, this does not allow us to knowingly publish inaccurate or misleading information and publications should correct significant inaccuracies or misleading material once they have been recognised as detailed in Section 2.0 – Mistakes.

1.5  Try always to tell all sides of the story when reporting on disputes and with such stories, reasonable steps should be taken to contact adversely named parties.

1.6 Journalists should rely only on credible sources.

1.7  Direct quotations should not be altered except to delete offensive language, protect against defamation, or to make minor changes for clarity.

1.8  Plagiarism is theft.

1.9  Information sourced from social media should be verified for accuracy. Editors should be informed of images sourced from social media sites. Publication and gathering of material from social media should also adhere to MetroNews NG’s Social Media Policy.

1.10 Images prepared for publication should meet the guidelines of the Photographic Enhancement and Manipulation policy, outlined below in Section 23.0 of this policy.

2.0 Mistakes

2.1 Subject to legal advice, a correction or other adequate remedial action should be provided promptly if published material is significantly inaccurate.

2.2 MetroNews NG supports self-regulation of the publishing industry.

2.3 Editors should publish complaints about their publication in accordance with the publishers.

3.0 Misrepresentation

3.1 Editorial employees should not use false names when representing MetroNews NG.

3.2 Employees should not try to obtain information, photographs or video by deception.

3.3 Any exceptions require the approval of the Editor and the most senior MetroNews NG executive who has oversight of the Editor (or the most senior executive’s authorised nominee) as detailed in 4.0 – Covert Activities for authorised operations which must be demonstrated to them as justified in the public interest.

4.0 Covert activities

4.1 Covert operations by editorial employees must be approved in advance by the Editor and the most senior MetroNews NG executive who has oversight of the Editor (or the most senior executive’s authorised nominee).

4.2 Approval will be given only where the material cannot knowingly be obtained by other means and the authorised covert operation must be justified on public interest grounds.

4.3 The public interest includes (although it is not an exhaustive list) ensuring the public’s right to reliable information and to not be misled; protecting and enhancing public safety and health; due administration of justice, government and national security; exposing, detecting or preventing crime, the threat of crime, dishonesty, serious misconduct, incompetence, impropriety or unethical behaviour; disclosing a person or organisation’s failure or likely failure to comply with any obligations; and disclosing a miscarriage of justice.

4.4 Where appropriate when publishing, the nature and reasons for operating covertly should be disclosed to readers.

4.5 Rules surrounding permission to tape telephone conversations differ between states and territories. If unsure, seek specific legal advice before taping any conversations. Be aware that approval must be sought if recording is to be used as audio in any digital capacity.

5.0 Confidential sources

5.1 A promise of confidentiality to a source must, of course, be honoured. However, editorial employees should be aware of the possible consequences. For example, a judge may order the source to be identified. Defiance of this order could lead to conviction for contempt of court, with the consequence of being imprisoned or being sanctioned with a heavy fine.

5.2 Before providing any entertainment, meals or other hospitality to any confidential source, employees should refer to Section 11.0 – Personal Gain, Gifts to ensure they comply with its clauses and the MetroNews NG Third Party Entertainment and Business Gift Policy.

6.0 Payment for information

6.1 Payment should not be made for interviews or information. If a request for payment or other reward or compensation is made, agreement must not be given without the approval of the Editor and the most senior MetroNews NG executive who has oversight of the Editor (or the most senior executive’s authorised nominee).

6.2 The same requirement applies to payments to criminals and their families and associates, witnesses in criminal proceedings and their families and associates.

7.0 Private investigators

7.1 Private investigators must not be used to provide editorial services without prior approval of the Editor and the most senior MetroNews NG executive who has oversight of the Editor (or the most senior executive’s authorised nominee).

7.2 Private investigators must comply with this Professional Conduct Policy, the MetroNews NG Standards of Business Conduct and provide a written assurance that they will not engage in unlawful surveillance or activities.

8.0 Conflict of interest

8.1 A conflict of interest arises when personal interests or divided loyalties interfere with the ability to make sound, objective business decisions on behalf of the company. Staff may join and participate in lawful political or community organisations or activities but must avoid potential conflicts of interest with their employment.

8.2 Employees as defined by this policy must report as soon as possible potential personal conflicts of interest to the Editor or Managing Editor (or their authorised nominee). Failure to notify them may result in dismissal.

8.3 Any employee wishing to perform paid or unpaid work for a rival media outlet must receive written approval in advance from the Editor.

8.4 The MetroNews NG Standards of Business Conduct apply in regard to conflicts of interest.

9.0 Financial Reporting

9.1 It is illegal for employees to make personal gain from financial information received in advance of general publication. It is illegal to pass this information to others.

9.2 Editorial employees must not report about shares, securities or companies in which they, their family or close friends have a financial interest without disclosing before publication that interest to the Managing Editor or Editor (or their authorised nominee).

9.3 Editorial employees should declare an interest to the Managing Editor or Editor (or their authorised nominee) if they have traded or intend to trade, directly or indirectly, in shares or securities about which they have reported recently or intend to report on soon.

9.4 Editorial employees should not write about prospectuses before their lodgement without confirming relevant regulations including those of a stock exchange are not breached.

10.0 Travel

10.1 Only the Managing Editor or Editor (or their authorised nominee) is authorised to accept offers of free or discounted travel, accommodation etc for a publication.

10.2 The Managing Editor, Editor (or their authorised nominee) has the right to decide whether to accept an offer, who should be assigned and whether a report is published as a consequence. These conditions must be made clear to whoever made the offer.

10.3 Employees must never solicit discount travel or accommodation for themselves; nor misrepresent their role within News to secure any form of travel discount or accommodation.

10.4 All international travel must be approved in advance by the Editor or Managing Editor (or their authorised nominee) as well as the most senior MetroNews NG executive who has oversight of the Editor (or the most senior executive’s authorised nominee to approve travel).

10.5 In accordance with the MetroNews NG Travel Policy, employees are expected to contact International SOS for trips to high and extreme risk countries to seek assistance with itinerary specific briefs to review the medical, personal safety and security risks.

10.6 MetroNews NG is prohibited from engaging in any activity involving Sanctioned Countries or Restricted Parties. MetroNews NG also does not participate in foreign boycotts that the Nigerian Government does not support. Please refer to the MetroNews NG Global Sanctions Anti-Boycott and Import Export Policy for further details.

11.0 Personal gain, gifts

11. Employees must not request or accept any money, travel, goods, discounts, entertainment or inducements of any kind outside the normal scope of business hospitality.

11.2 Bribes are to be rejected promptly and the Managing Editor or Editor (or their authorised nominee) or divisional head should be informed immediately of any offer or request to pay a bribe, including a facilitation payment or other inappropriate payments.

11.3 Gifts of cash (any sum) are never acceptable.

11.4 Employees must never solicit or request any gift or benefit for themselves or anyone else in connection with their employment.

11.5 Employees must never use their employment with MetroNews NG as a means of gaining any form of entitlement or benefit from a commercial organisation.

11.6 Employees must not accept gifts above a nominal value of $100. If a gift has more than a nominal value, it may only be accepted after approval of the Managing Editor or Editor (or their authorised nominee). The frequency, timing and nature of the gift must be considered. Any proposed gifts of $100 or more to or from government officials must be pre-approved in accordance with the MetroNews NG Global Third Party Entertainment and Business Gift Policy.

11.7 In accordance with the MetroNews NG Global Third Party Entertainment and Business Gift Policy all entertainment, meals or other hospitality provided to any third parties must be accurately recorded for the purposes of expense reimbursement.

11.8 MetroNews NG employees are not permitted to provide any entertainment, meals or other hospitality to any third party if a true and accurate record of the attendee cannot be disclosed for the purposes of expense reimbursement.

11.9 The MetroNews NG Standards of Business Conduct and MetroNews NG Global Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy apply to all issues involving personal gain.

12.0 Confidential Information

12.1 You must not disclose confidential information or commercially sensitive information about News Corp companies, even if you no longer work for us, including (but not limited to):

  • Trade secrets
  • Pricing information, such as internal cost and pricing rates
  • Marketing or strategy plans
  • Supply agreements or arrangements
  • Commercial and business plans • Contractual arrangements with third parties
  • Tender policies and arrangements
  • Financial information
  • Sales and training materials
  • Schematics, proposals, intentions or designs
  • Policies and procedures documents
  • Data which is personal information for the purposes of privacy law; and
  • All other information obtained from the MetroNews NG companies or obtained in the course of working or providing services to News Corp companies that is by its nature confidential.

12.2 You must not use any such information as detailed in 12.1 for personal gain. You must comply with the MetroNews NG Insider Trading and Confidentiality Policy.

13.0 Interviews/Requests for information or documentation in third party litigation

13.1 In general, MetroNews NG expects employees to co-operate with authorities in investigations. But requests by police or other authorities for work-related interviews must be referred to the Managing Editor or Editor (or their authorised nominee) and divisional head.

13.2 No employee should speak in that capacity to another media organisation or at a public event without permission of the Managing Editor or Editor (or their authorised nominee).

14.0 Privacy

14.1 All individuals, including public figures, have a right to privacy. But public figures necessarily sacrifice their right to privacy, where public scrutiny is in the public interest.

14.2 Publication of sensitive personal information — such as taxation details, Family Court records and health and welfare matters — may be prohibited by law. The MetroNews NG Privacy Policy also applies to the collection and use of personal information. Seek legal advice as to how the law applies for the purposes of conducting journalism.

15.0 Harassment

15.1 Do not harass or try to intimidate people when seeking information or photographs.

15.2 Do not photograph or film people on private property without their consent unless it is in the public interest to do so. If asked by the resident to leave private property, do so promptly.

15.3 Do not persist unreasonably in telephoning, pursuing, questioning or door-stopping someone after an authorised person has asked you to stop.

16.0 Grief and distress

16.1 Editorial employees should always behave with sensitivity and courtesy toward the public, and in particular towards those involved in tragic events. No one should be put under pressure to be photographed, filmed or interviewed. Initial approaches might best be made through friends or relatives. We should respect the wishes of the bereaved or grieving.

17.0 Hospitals, other facilities

17.1  Do not go into non-public areas of hospitals, welfare institutions, funeral parlours, churches etc, without either identifying yourself to relevant authorities or without permission of the people affected or their intermediaries unless appropriate prior approval has been obtained under the requirements of 4.0 Covert Activities for such operations.

18.0 Children

18.1  Children should not be prompted in interviews, or offered inducements to cooperate.

18.2 Do not identify children in crime and court reports without state specific legal advice.

18.3 Do not approach children inside schools without the permission of a school authority.

19.0 Discrimination

19.1 Do not make pejorative reference to a person’s race, nationality, colour, religion, marital status, sex, sexual preferences, or physical or mental illness or disability. No details of a person’s race, nationality, colour, religion, marital status, sex, sexual preferences, or physical or mental illness or disability should be included in a report unless they are relevant.

20.0 Suicide

20.1 Do not reveal graphic details of a suspected suicide or graphic details of the method and location of a suicide unless the public interest in doing so clearly outweighs the risk, if any, of causing further suicides. Always consult your editor or relevant editorial executive.

20.2  Avoid making judgements about the method of death which suggest suicide is an acceptable means of resolving problems, particularly among young people.

20.3 Do not sensationalise, glamorise or trivialise suicides. Adopt sensitivity and moderation in news gathering and in any contact with those who might be affected.

20.4  Where possible, include in such reports the contact number of support groups where people with problems may seek help.

21.0 Illegal drugs

21.1 Do not report recipes for drug manufacture details of distribution or descriptions of the use of other harmful substances unless justified by public interest considerations or at the request of authorities.

22.0 Weapons and threats

22.1 Do not report threats to use bombs or other weapons or threats of extortion unless public interest justifies it, or when the authorities request you to do so, or when it is necessary to explain public disruption caused by the authorities’ reaction to such a threat.

22.2 Do not report details of the manufacture or methods of using explosives, ammunition, firearms, fireworks, crossbows, booby traps or any potentially lethal device unless public interest justifies it, or when the authorities request you to do so.

23.0 Photographic enhancement and manipulation policy

23.1 Enhancement of photographs is acceptable. However, this should be limited to simple procedures to improve reproduction quality, ie auto enhancement.

23.2 Colour alteration, over sharpening and image manipulation is prohibited.

23.3 Subject to 23.1, wire services images from non-MetroNews NG sources should not be altered unless approved by the Editor, Managing Editor (or their authorised nominee) to delete matter which might cause offence. Any alteration should be explained in the caption.

23.4 Freelance, occasional and on-the-spot contributors must give an undertaking in writing their images have not been altered. Except in special circumstances and on approval of the Editor, Managing Editor (or their authorised nominee), the source should be credited.

23.5 Any image that has had the subject altered or added to should be clearly acknowledged in the caption as “Digitally Altered Image”.

23.6 Images that MetroNews NG companies sell for publication or private sales must be offered without electronic manipulation subject to 23.1.

23.7 Images by staff photographers being published in MetroNews NG publications may be altered to achieve special effects or for artistic purpose, but only with the approval of the Editor, Managing Editor (or their authorised nominee). Captions for such images should advise they have been altered when they are published or transmitted interstate or overseas.

23.8 Any special image that requires archiving and has been altered must be clearly marked to this effect before being archived and an original filed.

24.0 Other Obligations

24.1 Do not bring the reputation of MetroNews NG, your colleagues or masthead into disrepute.

24.2 Respect the confidences and sensitivities of your colleagues at all times.

24.3 Familiarise yourself with all of MetroNews NG’s employee conduct policies.

24.4 All employees are required to be neat and dressed appropriately for their particular job and should be aware of requirements of the News Corp Business Attire Policy.

24.5 Employees must protect company assets from theft, carelessness, waste and misuse and respect the property rights of others.

25.0 Breaches of policy

25.1 Complaints involving alleged breaches of this policy will be investigated by the Managing Editor of the publication concerned, or an executive of equivalent status. Proven breaches will be dealt with in accordance with the company’s disciplinary procedures.

MetroNews NG

Editorial Code of Conduct Professional Conduct Policy August 2016

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