4 Aug 2020

Gurtong Trust - Peace & Media Project Editorial Policy

1. Gurtong’s Editorial Policy Guidelines

The Gurtong Editorial Policy Guidelines are and updated from time to time, the outline of the standards Gurtong expects of all Gurtong content online, radio, print and any future productions of Gurtong. They are designed for everyone who makes content for Gurtong to help them deal with difficult editorial decisions.

2. Introduction

The Gurtong Editorial Guidelines are a statement of the values and standards we have and seek to set now and over the years to come. They also codify the good practice we expect from contributors to all Gurtong content, whether it is from its own correspondents or independent contributors to the website, radio programmes, magazine or any other medium of communications Gurtong may deem appropriate:

2.1. Gurtong is committed to delivering the highest editorial and ethical standards in the provision of its programmes and services to the peoples of South Sudan and all consumers of its content, both at Home and in the Diaspora.

2.2. We seek to balance our rights to freedom of expression and information with our responsibilities, for example, sensitivity in covering issues of ethnicity, the disabled and minors.

2.3 As different technologies evolve, these guidelines apply to the Gurtong content, whoever produces it and however it is received. The values and standards outlined in these guidelines should be observed regardless of location.

3. Ethics & Conduct

3.1. Gurtong shall not publish, print or broadcast information likely to incite violence, or provoke hatred, or discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, language, regional origins, class, gender, and religion.

3.2. Gurtong staff or contributors to Gurtong will not accept any payment in any form from official of government, party, business or individuals for publicity of themselves or their organisations. Where and when generosity has been extended to staff or contributors when in pursuit of contributing to Gurtong, such generosity should be reported immediately to the immediate editor or Editor-in-Chief, who will there and then write or authorise a “Thank You” letter to the person or organisation involved.

3.3 Gurtong subscribes to the South Sudan’s Media Code of Ethics & Conduct. Subsequently all creators of Gurtong content must familiarise themselves with the content of this document and adhere to its directives.

4. Truth and Accuracy

We strive to be accurate and establish the truth of what has happened. Accuracy is more important than speed and it is often more than a question of getting the facts right. We will weigh all relevant facts and information to get at the truth. Our output will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language. We will be honest and open about what we don't know and avoid unfounded speculation.

5. Impartiality & Diversity of Opinion

We strive to be fair and open-minded and reflect all significant strands of opinion by exploring the range and conflict of views. We will be objective and even handed in our approach to a subject. We will provide professional judgments where appropriate, but we will never promote a particular view on controversial matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy.

6. Editorial Integrity & Independence

6.1 Gurtong is independent of both state and partisan interests.

6.2 Our audiences can be confident that our decisions are influenced neither by political or commercial pressures, nor by any personal interests.

7. Serving the Public Interest

Gurtong seeks to report stories of significance to our society. We will be as vigorous as possibly so within the law of the land in driving to the heart of the story and well informed when explaining it. We will seek specialists’ expertise where possible to bring authority and analysis to the complex world in which we live. We will ask searching questions of those who hold public office and provide a comprehensive forum for public debate.

8. Fairness

8.1 Gurtong’s output will be based on fairness, openness and straight dealing.

8.2 Contributors will be treated honestly and with respect.

9. Privacy

9.1 Gurtong will respect privacy and will not infringe it without good reason, wherever in the world we are operating.

9.2 Private behaviour, correspondence and conversation will not be brought into the public domain unless there is a clear public interest.

10. Harm and Offence

10.1 Gurtong aims to reflect the world as it is, including all aspects of the human experience and the realities of the natural world.

10.2 But we balance our right to publish and broadcast innovative and challenging content with our responsibility to protect the vulnerable.

11. Children

11.1 Gurtong will always seek to safeguard the welfare of children and young people who contribute to and feature in our content including their right to be heard, wherever in the world we operate.

11.2 We will also use appropriately content which might be unsuitable for children.

12. Accountability

We are accountable to our audiences and will deal fairly and openly with them. Their continuing trust in Gurtong is a crucial part of our unspoken contract with them. We will be open in admitting mistakes and encourage a culture of willingness to learn from them.

13. Politics

13.1 Principles of political impartiality:

13.1.1 We must treat matters of public policy or political or business controversy with due accuracy and impartiality in our news services and other output.
13.1.2 We must not express an opinion on current affairs or matters of public policy other than those hindering our ability to effectively serve the public.
13.1.3 We must not campaign, or allow ourselves to be used to campaign.

13.2 Introduction

Under the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, South Sudan is a multiparty democracy Over time Gurtong must aim to give due prominence to all the main strands of argument and to all the main parties Although the government of the day will often be the primary source of news and other important national information, the voices and opinions of opposition parties must also be routinely aired and challenged.

14. Reporting on South Sudanese Political Parties

Policies and opinions of all registered South Sudanese political parties will be given due coverage and adequately reflected in all Gurtong publications.

14.1 As there is no established “Official Opposition Party” as yet in South Sudan, specific party labels are preferable to general descriptions of “the opposition”.

15. Political Interviews

15.1 We should be clear when making requests for political interviews about the nature of the programme and context for which they are intended

15.2 Our arrangements must stand up to public scrutiny and must not prevent the programme asking questions that our audiences would reasonably expect to hear.

15.3 Any reporter/producer proposing to invite a politician to be a guest of Gurtong should consult first with his immediate editor or with the Gurtong Editor-in-Chief as early as possible

16. Interviews With or Profiles of Party Leaders

16.1 Except for brief news interviews, any proposal to interview or profile any of the party leaders in South Sudan or anywhere in Sudan must be referred to the Editor-in-Chief well in advance, who will ascertain that due weight is given to opinions by and profiles of all party leaders.

17. Political Contributors

17.1 We must take care when inviting politicians to contribute to our output on the basis of their expertise outside their political field, not to give them such prominence as to give them undue advantage over their opponents. This applies all the time, and not only during election campaigns.

17.2 If in doubt about whether it is appropriate to invite someone with an overt party political label to be a contributor or presenter to non-political output, consult your immediate editor or Editor-in-Chief.

18. Payments to Political Contributors

Gurtong will not pay any fee, were it able, to members of political parties, government opinion and information contributors.

19. Use of Proceedings in Our Parliaments in Juba and States

19.1 We must observe the rules of coverage laid down by Southern Sudan Parliament and that of the States. These include:

19.1.1 No internal editing of speeches. When using two sections of a speech, a definite break must be provided to make clear the two sections are not continuous.

19.1.2 No manipulation of the pictures or sound.

19.1.3 We can only use parliamentary material in news and factual programmes or for educational purposes.

19.1.4 We must not use any parliamentary recordings in light entertainment, fictional or drama programmes or items or programmes of political satire.

20. Elections

As member of the Mass Media entity in South Sudan, Gurtong subscribes to the Media Code of Ethics and Conduct covering elections in South/Sudan as stated below:

Mass Media Code of Ethics and Conduct:

In a constitutional democracy like South/Sudan, freedom of expression, including the constitutional right to receive and impart information, is a prerequisite for free and fair elections. In order to enable citizens to make informed and democratic choices, the Mass Media has a heightened responsibility to provide accurate and impartial information to the public throughout the electoral process. For these reasons, in its coverage and reporting during election periods, the Mass Media shall comply with this Code of Ethics and the Regulations issued by South/Sudan Electoral Commission, in accordance with relevant Articles of the Electoral Law and other relevant provisions of the Current Interim Constitutions of South/Sudan and the Law on Mass Media.

The Mass Media plays an essential role in the democratic process. It is imperative that they be afforded the highest level of access to election-related events, access to information, and protection from all forms of harassment and/or intimidation as reasonably possible at all stages of the electoral process, in accordance with the Law on Mass Media and any other Regulation, Procedure or Guideline issued by the South/Sudan Electoral Commission.

The legal and ethical standards described in this Code of Ethics and Conduct are intended to guide the activities of members of the Mass Media during the entire electoral process from beginning to end, including candidate nomination, registration, political campaigning, polling and counting. All members of the Mass Media must obey these standards and implement them with common sense and good faith. Individuals may be sanctioned by the Media Commission (once set up) for violations of this Code of Ethics and Conduct.

Members of the Mass Media:

1. Shall enjoy the fundamental right of freedom of expression, association, assembly and movement so as to participate in the registration, political campaign and election processes.

2. Shall comply with the Constitution, the Law on Mass Media, all electoral laws and all other relevant laws of South/Sudan, including Regulations, and Procedures issued by the Joint Electoral Commission (JEC).

3. Shall not broadcast or print any information likely to incite violence, or provoke hatred or discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, language regional origins, class, gender and religion in connection with the election and other electoral activities.

4. Shall seek the truth and provide fair, balanced, accurate and impartial reporting that is not misleading to the public.

5. Shall ensure that information on the electoral process is widely disseminated.

6. Shall not knowingly publish, broadcast, distribute any matter or thing in relation to the electoral process which the person knows to be false or does not believe to be true and which is intended to mislead or deceive a person in relation to the free exercise of his electoral right.

7. Shall not knowingly publish, broadcast or distribute any defamatory statement in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate in the election and intended to prejudicially affect the prospects of that candidate at the election.

8. Shall provide equitable treatment to all political advertisers.

9. Shall report facts and figures and clearly distinguish between facts and rumours.

10. Shall label opinions as opinions.

11. Shall avoid conflicts of interest or the perception of conflict of interest.

12. Shall not accept or demand gifts, special treatment or favours from nominated candidates, politicians, political parties and their agents in exchange for coverage.

13. Shall correct in a prompt and prominent manner all errors of fact, as well as error of omission and provide a right of reply to any individual or group that is the subject of an allegation.

14. Shall comply with orders of the Electoral Complaints Commission and the Media Commission, including orders to broadcast and print a correction or retraction.

Last updated at 7/6/2020