The Globe and Mail has updated its anonymous source policy, as well as its overall editorial code, public editor Sylvia Stead reported.
In addition to its anonymous source policy, the Globe and Mail revised guidelines for handling leaked information, unpublishing, freebies, social media, political activity, and investing.
The changes were made after “a group of editors and reporters” including Stead spent months looking at the code that had been in place for several years and compared it with other journalism codes, Stead wrote, and then suggested the new code to Globe and Mail editor David Walmsley. In an e-mail to iMediaEthics, Stead wrote, “It was a very collegial process with the committee and the editor in chief and his senior staff.”
New guidelines include
- “Every reasonable effort to confirm the veracity of” any leaked information.
- Anonymous sources cannot be “used to take potshots at people”
- Direct quotes attributed to anonymous sources must be OKed by a supervisor.
- Journalists should contact all “key subjects of their stories” before publication, and disclose if they weren’t able to get a response
- Unpublishing requests must be filed via e-mail to the public editor so “a committee of editors and lawyers will review the request.” (That said, Stead added that the newspaper usually only unpublishes if it’s required for “legal reasons.”)
- Journalists who are allowed to accept discounted stays must get approval from supervisors beforehand and disclose that. Here, Stead reminded, that is typically only in “sections like Travel or Drive, where it is a common industry practice” to OK review discounts for “certain non-news-related features”)
- On social media, journalists shouldn’t “post partisan, defamatory or clearly false material,” or “personal attacks.”
- Journalists shouldn’t share political views “in public” or participate in any political campaign. Journalists can only participate in “protest or political marches” if their supervisor approves.
- Staff can’t write about any companies they invest in. Further, “staff members who have advance knowledge of specific investment news should not make a securities transaction related to that news until it has been published for a full market day.”
Further, the code advises Globe and Mail journalists warn its anonymous sources that “anonymity may, on rare occasions, be compromised beyond our control due to external factors.” That isn’t just superstition, Stead noted; she reminded staff reporters that last year some Quebec journalists’ phone records were monitored by police.
The code is published in full on the Globe and Mail’s website. Read The Globe and Mail Editorial Code of Conduct.