The undersigned, board members of the Journalists Association and editors in chief of newspapers and publications, and out of belief in our responsibility towards the public and society, and the basis of journalism, on top of which is commitment to the truth and principles of freedom, justice, values, ethics and respect of law, approve the “Journalism Code of Ethics" and undertake to:
1. Respect the truth and the right of the public to have access to the true and accurate information.
2. While performing his duty, the journalist is demanded to commit himself at all times to the principles of freedom and integrity in gathering and publishing stories. He should also voice fair and neutral comments and criticism.
3. A journalist must only publish facts from sources known to him, and must not hide any basic and important information, forge facts of falsify documents.
4. He should use only legitimate means to obtain information, photos and documents from original sources.
5. Publishing news and information of pictures must be examined carefully for accuracy, and their true meaning must not be altered by editing, title or photo comment. All documents must be edited accurately, and any uncertified reports, rumours or speculations must be reported as such. If re-edited or reproduced material was used as a symbolic picture, it should be made clear through the comment that it is not a documentary picture.
6. Journalists undertake to rectify any published information that proved to be wrong and harmful to others.
7. There should be no compromise in credibility.
8. Respecting privacy is a main principle in the profession and journalists should respect the privacy of individuals and not expose it by publishing any thing without the consent of those individuals. If personal conduct over crosses with public interest, such conduct may be covered without violating the personal rights of uninvolved individuals.
9. In regards to the news source, the code and charter stress that Professionalism and confidentiality should be strictly observed if the source demands anonymity. The journalist has every right to present evidence or expose their source without the source’s consent.
10. Journalists should not seek to provoke or inflame public feelings by any means or use means of excitement and deception or dishonest reporting. They should not use media organs for purpose of libel or slandering.
11. The edited publications should not be influenced by personal interests or businesses with a third party. Publishers and editors-in-chief must turn down any such attempts, and draw a clear line between reported stories and commercial articles or publications.
12. Journalists should be very vigilant to traps of discrimination and avoid involving themselves by any means in any stories hinting to discrimination of race, sex, language, faith or national and social backgrounds.
13. They must be aware that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty, thus names and photos of suspects should not be published until a final verdict is issued.
14. In crimes and issues dealing with children, names and photos should not be published.
15. Journalists must be very careful in their personal relationships with news sources so as these bonds can not impact the Partiality.
16. The media should refrain from publishing photos of brutal violence and respect the feeling of the public especially children.
17. Journalists are urged to avoid using offending and obscene language in their reports.
18. Islam is a basic and important component of UAE culture, values and traditions, and the respect of divine religions and traditions and values of nations takes centre stage at the mandatory code of ethics of the media and should not be offended or desecrated by any forms.
19. Human rights should also be respected and valued and should not be abused by the media under any pretext.
20. Plagiarism, ill-intention interpretation, libel, slandering, censure, defamation, allegation and accepting bribery to publish or hide information are all dangerous professional violations.
21. When using facts published by competitors, journalists must give credit to the competitor.
22. Competing for news, pictures and information is a right, provided practicing such competition is honest and clear and does not hinder the work of colleagues in competing publications.
23. A journalist has to do his best not to become part of a story, and to cover news not make them. While gathering information, a journalist may not present himself as anything other than a journalist.
24. Coverage of medical cases must not be sensational, as this can lead to spreading fear or unrealistic hope among readers. Publishing the first stage of results of researches and medical achievements must not be portrayed as final and undisputed.
25. Journalists must not acquire information or pictures through harassment, temptation or violence.
26. Accepting valuable cash and kind gifts may cause a journalist to be biased in his coverage and is considered breach of the code. This does not apply to souvenir gifts given to the public.
Portions of this document have been adopted from the best practices of several newspapers from around the world, which we gratefully acknowledge.
The following document details a set of guidelines undertaken by GN Media is to produce journalism of the highest quality to the highest ethical standards.
To assist in attaining these requirements this document has been prepared to provide a set of guidelines.
For the purposes of this document, the term "Gulf News" will be used as shorthand to include but not limited to all print media presently published by GN Media and any subsequent publications, including its websites and any other form of electronic or broadcast medium.
The standards outlined here apply to all editorial employees and to all work they produce for Gulf News whether it appears in print, on the radio or television, or on the internet, or any other medium.
The privacy of individuals shall be fully respected, except in instances of demonstrable public interest.
Photographs shall not be electronically or manually altered, except in a photomontage or similar graphic illustration. If a photograph is so altered this shall be made clear to readers. Fact and opinion shall be separated and clearly identified.
Gulf News is committed to helping develop an industry-based self-regulatory organisation in the UAE based on international best practice. Gulf News is committed to the higher interests of the UAE, including its development, progress, safety and security. It is otherwise independent of any political, commercial or sectional obligations or commitments, and will not represent the interests of any one section of the population at the expense of another.
In its reporting, Gulf News will strive to ensure there is no discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, ethnic group or any physical attribute.Reports of a sensitive nature in regard to any of the above issues will be handled with great care to ensure the rights of freedom of expression and a free press do not diminish any other basic human rights, nor incite feelings of contempt, hatred or aggression in one section of the population against another.
Great care will be taken to ensure that reports on events that might be deemed by a reasonable person to be of a lewd or salacious nature are sensitively handled and only used if they can be shown to be in the public interest.
The same applies to reports that might be deemed to encourage or incite crime or violence. Full cognizance will be taken of the fact that Gulf News is read by people of all ages, including children.
Fairness and accuracy are among our core values to achieve quality journalism. However, perhaps nothing stands above the need for Gulf News to maintain and preserve its integrity. We cannot hold the people we cover to standards we do not meet ourselves. The public’s trust in our work - our most important asset - depends on our meeting these high standards.
In deed and in appearance, journalists at Gulf News must keep themselves - and Gulf News - above reproach. The ways a publisher can discredit itself are beyond calculation; these guidelines do not purport to cover them all.
It is up to staff members to master the general principles and, beyond that, to listen carefully to their individual sense of right and wrong. Credibility, a publisher’s most precious asset, is arduously acquired and easily squandered. It can be maintained only if each of us accepts responsibility for it.
When uncertainty arises about the application of these guidelines, the primary goal should always be to protect Gulf News’ integrity. When in doubt, do not be shy about asking questions. A robust, ongoing discussion of ethics at all levels of the newsroom is essential to producing first-rate publications.
A fair-minded reader of Gulf News coverage of news events should not be able to discern the private opinions of those who contributed to that coverage, or to infer that Gulf News is promoting any agenda.
A crucial goal of our news and feature reporting - apart from editorials, columns, criticism and other content that is expressly opinionated - is to be non-ideological. This is a tall order. It requires us to recognise our own biases and stand apart from them.
It also requires us to examine the ideological environment in which we work, for the biases of our sources, our colleagues and our communities can distort our sense of objectivity.
In covering controversial issues - government policies, labour disputes, emiratisation and the like - we seek out intelligent, articulate views from all perspectives. Reporters should try genuinely to understand all points of view, rather than simply grab quick quotations to create a semblance of balance.
People who will be shown in an adverse light in an article must be given a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves. This means making a good-faith effort to give the subject of allegations or criticism sufficient time and information to respond substantively.
Whenever possible, the reporter should meet face to face with the subject in a sincere effort to understand his or her best arguments.Investigative reporting requires special diligence with respect to fairness. Those involved in such stories should bear in mind that they are more credible when they provide a rich, nuanced account of the topic.
Our coverage should avoid simplistic portrayals.
We report in environments - Arab Gulf countries - where anonymity is routinely sought and casually granted. We stand against that practice and seek to minimise it. We are committed to informing our public as completely as possible; the use of anonymous sources compromises this important value.
These standards are not intended to discourage reporters from cultivating sources who are wary of publicity. Such informants can be invaluable. However, the information they provide can often be verified with sources willing to be named, from documents, or both.
We should make every effort to obtain such verification. We will not allow the use of unnamed sources in the case of personal attacks and we will avoid letting them be the sole basis for any story. Relying on unnamed sources should be a last resort, however, when a story arises where the reporter and editor together believe the use of an unnamed source may be necessary the following guidelines apply:
The editor and reporter need to ask each other: why does this person need to remain unnamed? There must be a thorough discussion between the reporter and the assigning editor on whether there is any other way to get the story and the ramifications of using the unnamed source, considering the option of not running the story at all if the source cannot be identified. We recognise that some people may be risking their livelihood by speaking out for a story and the need to be protected.
If both the reporter and editor agree that the use of an unnamed source is necessary, the source must be described in as much detail as possible to indicate the source’s credibility. Simply attributing a comment to "a source" is inadequate.
We should try to be as specific as possible. We should use the source’s job title or general job description or say how they know the information if possible. We should use the word "person" or an equivalent rather than the word "source" in most cases; the word "source" is journalistic jargon and is vague. And we should be precise about the number of sources we have for any piece of information; saying "sources close to the investigation" when there is only one is not acceptable.
Some examples of phrasing that works in describing an unnamed source: "a city employee" or "a person present at the meeting" or "a university administrator" or "someone who has seen the affidavit". While it is important to protect the identity of our unnamed sources, we should not mislead our readers in order to provide this protection. So we should not say a key source "could not be reached for comment" if we reached them and had a not-for-attribution interview.
Likewise, if an unnamed source in a story is quoted on the record elsewhere in the same story, we should not allow the on-the-record quote to make contradictory assertions or distort the facts.
The reporter must identify the source to his or her editor and the editor must ask for the identity of any unnamed source used in the story. Editors who learn the identity of the source will be bound by the same confidentially agreement reached by the reporter and the source, and the source’s identity will not be made known to anyone outside Gulf News.
In cases where the assigning editor judges the story to be of great importance, of a highly sensitive nature or has any questions about using the unnamed source, that editor needs to bring the story to the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief for discussion and approval. In all cases where a story is based largely on unnamed sources, the matter should be discussed with the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief.
Every story that includes an unnamed source must include a notation on the check-in form indicating that the use of the source has been discussed with the assigning editor or section head. Staff members should be extremely circumspect about how and where they store information that might identify an unnamed source. Many electronic records, including e-mail, can be subpoenaed, or retrieved by non-newsroom employees.
Promises to a source must be kept except under the most extraordinary circumstances. If a source, acting in bad faith, were to succeed in using Gulf News to spread misinformation, we would consider our promise of anonymity no longer binding. That said, we do not "burn" sources.
Carefully consider whether to allow the use of unnamed sources produced by other media or wire services. Since we cannot check the credibility of unnamed wire stories the way we can with staff-produced stories, the following guidelines should apply:
a) Wire stories should be held up to as many of the standards required of staff-produced stories as possible. These should include not allowing the use of unnamed stories in the case of personal attacks and using unnamed sources only when news warrants it and cannot be obtained in any other way.
b) Whenever possible, consult any in-house experts who may be knowledgeable on the topic discussed by an unnamed source. Picture: does it ring true? Are any red flags raised?
c) Consider the source: is the news organisation offering the story credible? In general Gulf News only uses credible wire services, but at the same time, a story is only as good as the reporter filing it. Is the story on a topic which the news organisation would have expertise? (You wouldn’t expect E! to run a story on the stock market, for example.)
d) Carefully examine how the story is written and any circumstantial evidence that would point to the story being true or not: Does it all add up?
e) Spell out clearly in the wire story that the unnamed source is "an unnamed source in the New York Times" (for example) so readers are clear it is not a source of a reporter at Gulf News.
f) In cases where there are significant conflicts of interest between attribution of information in the wire story and Gulf News policy on unattributed sources, an effort should be made to contact the originating news agency for more information. This should be done especially when information comes from one of the Gulf News mediums.
g) Any doubts about the story, about questionable sourcing or insufficient attribution should be brought to the attention of a senior editor.
Precision and truthfulness
We live and work in a media environment suffused with hyperbole. It is Gulf News’ intention to stand distinctly apart from that world and speak straightforwardly to readers.It is obvious that we should not knowingly publish falsehoods. Fabrication of any type is unacceptable. We do not create composite characters. We do not use pseudonyms. We do not manufacture, embroider or distort quotes.
Quotations should always be the exact words that someone spoke, with the exception of corrections in errors, as of grammar and syntax that often occur unnoticed when someone is speaking but are embarrassing in print. In most cases,
the grammar of people for whom English is a second language should be corrected as well. Spoken hesitancies such as "um" and "ah" should usually be omitted.
Parentheses within quotations are almost never appropriate and can almost always be avoided. Quotations are used to enliven and emphasise elements of a story, and internal explanations will often bog them down. If many parenthetical explanations are needed, the quote probably wasn’t set up properly or wasn’t a good quote to start with.
Avoid ellipses within quotations. While reporters often use ellipses in an attempt to remove extraneous elements, to readers they simply signal that we have altered the quotation and raise concerns that we may have changed its meaning in the process.Simply put, ellipses raise issues of credibility. We will, however, use ellipses to remove profanity from quotations.
How do we identify the manner in which quotes are received? Quotes obtained in a face to face conversation or over a telephone need no special explanation. However, we generally should explain when a quote was received in some other way: via e-mail, in a prepared statement, in a press conference on television or radio.
In cases where we conduct an interview through a translator, we should identify quotes received in that manner ("said through a translator") as a signal to the reader that there are limits on our ability to attest to the accuracy of the information. In cases where the reporter does the translation, no special designation is necessary, unless the fact that the interviewee spoke in a foreign language is material to the story.
Superlatives such as "biggest," "worst" and "most" should be employed only when the writer has proof. It is the responsibility of assigning editors and copy editors to challenge all questionable claims. The burden of proof rests with the writer; it is not the desk’s responsibility to prove the writer wrong.
It is unacceptable to hedge an unverified or unverifiable assertion with words such as "arguably’ or "perhaps". Our job is to tell readers what is true, not what might be.By-lines, datelines and credit lines should accurately convey to the readers the source of our reporting.
By-lines tell readers who is responsible for an article’s content while giving credit where credit is due. When multiple by-lines are proposed for an article, the editor should consider, did all the reporters contribute significantly and more or less equally? If not, a credit line is more appropriate for lesser contributors.
In multiple by-lines, the first name generally should be that of the reporter who wrote the article, or if different, of the largest contributor. This most directly tells readers who is responsible for the content.
Datelines are statements of fact and are intended to show where a story was principally reported. Visiting an area fleetingly solely to justify a dateline is not acceptable.
Criminal suspects and convicts
In general, the identity of criminal suspects or convicts is not disclosed unless given by the appropriate authority, such as the Police or the Courts. Names of convicts in the UAE, anyway, are rarely released to Gulf News until all avenues of appeal have been pursued.
On this aspect, and all others related to reporting and publishing, Gulf News abides by the UAE Publishing Laws.Any dispute of legal nature in regard to an article we have published must be brought to the immediate attention of the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief.
Photographs and graphics
Photographs and graphics must inform, not mislead. Any attempt to confuse readers or misrepresent visual information is prohibited.In photographing news we do not stage or re-enact events. Photographers may direct subjects of portraits, fashion shoots or studio work. In presenting such images, we must avoid the impression that they were captured spontaneously.
We do not add colour, remove objects or flip images. We do not digitally alter images beyond making minor adjustments for colour correction, exposure correction and removal of dust spots or scratches required to ensure faithful reproduction of the original image.
Exaggerated use of burning, dodging or colour saturation is not permitted. If we need to create photomontages then it will be clearly indicated as such.On occasion we publish artistic or graphic renderings that include altered photographs. Such renderings should be clearly labelled "photo illustration". Before creating a photo illustration, photographers, photo editors and designers must obtain approval from a senior editor for photography.
Gulf News expects its editorial staff to behave with dignity and professionalism. We do nothing while gathering the news that we would be ashamed to see in print or on television. We do not let the behaviour of the pack set standards for us.
As well as the guidelines outlined here, staff are also required to familiarise themselves with the staff manual, with particular reference to Chapter 19. In general, we identify ourselves as staff members when covering news events. There are some instances when offering such identification is impossible, impractical or counterproductive, but in no case should a staff member lie about his or her affiliation with Gulf News.
We should deal honourably with people and institutions we cover, just as we expect them to deal honourably with us.
Staff members may not use their affiliation with Gulf News to resolve personal disputes or seek special treatment or personal benefits.
Generally, staff members are not permitted to freelance for any other media, anywhere. That said, there maybe occasion when a reporter is sought for his or her specialist knowledge.If such occurs, then the Managing Editor or Editor-in-Chief must give approval, in writing, before any work is done on the story. Any staff contravening this will be subject to disciplinary measures.
The work of freelance journalists appears in Gulf News alongside staff-produced photographs, articles and graphics.
Freelancers must therefore approach their work without conflicts and must adhere to the same standards of professionalism that Gulf News requires of its own staff.It is the responsibility of assigning editors to inquire about a freelancer’s potential conflicts of interest before making an assignment.
Conflict-of-interest provisions may apply differently to contributors to the Op-Ed pages. They are expected to bring institutional and personal perspectives to their work. They are not expected to bring conflicts, but they are expected to disclose them.
Conflicts of Interest
Guidelines cannot cover every conceivable conflict of interest. If doubt exists, staff members should consult with either the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief. Nevertheless, some principles are clear. Financial Holdings:
Staff members may not enter into business or financial relationships with their sources. Similarly, staff members may not cover individuals or institutions with which they have a financial relationship.
In no circumstance will staff members allow personal investments to influence their news decisions. They may not work on stories that could, in any way, shape events for their own financial gain. Likewise, they may not use non-public information obtained by Gulf News to make personal investment decisions.
In the case of, say, a personal finance columnist who owns securities in a company or shares in a fund, the columnist must disclose this financial interest to readers whenever writing about the company or fund. Outside affiliations and community work: Staff members may not use their positions at the paper to promote personal agendas or causes. Nor should they allow their outside activities to undermine the impartiality of Gulf News coverage, in fact or appearance.
Staff members may not engage in political advocacy – as members of a campaign or an organisation specifically concerned with political change. Nor may they contribute money to a partisan campaign or candidate.Staff members should avoid public expressions or demonstrations of their political views - bumper stickers and the like.
While Gulf News does not seek to restrict staff members’ participation in civic life or journalistic organisations, they should be aware that outside affiliations and memberships might create real or apparent ethical conflicts.
When those affiliations have even the slightest potential to damage Gulf News’ credibility, staff members should proceed with caution and take care to advise either the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief.
Some types of civic participation may be deemed inappropriate. A reporter on environmental issues, for instance, would be prohibited from affiliating with environmental organisations, a health writer from joining medical groups, a business editor from membership in certain trade or financial associations.
More broadly, staff members should be aware of the goals and funding sources of organisations with which they affiliate, and should avoid those whose purpose or backing could cause the paper or staff member embarrassment. Gulf News staff members occasionally are invited to speak to organisations or to appear on discussion panels. Before accepting, they should consider the purpose of the event and how it might be perceived.
Staff members should avoid situations in which their participation could be construed as endorsement of the sponsoring organisation’s interests. In general, staff members should refuse honorariums for appearances, though exceptions may be made, at the discretion of the Managing Editor or Editor-in-Chief, when the sponsors are educational institutions or journalistic organisations. Staff members should be careful during such appearances not to make comments that stray beyond what they would contribute to Gulf News.
Radio and television
Shows that are related to a staff member’s area of expertise - in other words, shows where the appearance is generated by work that has been published in Gulf News - require the approval of their immediate supervisor. The guest must be clearly identified as a staff member of Gulf News. (Example: Joe Jones writes a column on children and health issues that appears on Tuesdays in Gulf News.)
Staff members who appear as private citizens to discuss subjects not related to their work in Gulf News do not need the permission the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief. (Example: An assistant features editor does not need permission to go on the air to discuss his opinions US/China relations).If the guest is to be identified as a Gulf News member of staff, it must be clear that he or she is appearing as an individual and is not representing Gulf News.
Staff members shall demonstrate the same commitment to fairness and high standards of impartiality of which they are expected in Gulf News. Personal Relationships: Activities of family members may create conflicts of interest.
Gulf News recognises that it has no authority to restrict the activities of spouses, companions or close relatives of staff members who do not themselves work for the newspaper. However, Gulf News may restrict a staff member’s assignment based on the activities of a family member or significant other. Staff members are responsible for informing the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief whenever a companion’s or close relative’s activities, investments or affiliations could create a conflict.
Staff members shall not write, photograph, illustrate or make news judgments about anyone related to them by blood or marriage, or with whom they have a close personal relationship.This does not apply to first-person stories or stories in which the relationships are clearly spelled out. Nor shall personal relationships within the newsroom affect news judgment.
Meals: As a principle, we pay our own way. However, newsgathering often occurs in settings where payment is awkward or impossible. When that happens, staff members should make every effort to reciprocate as soon as possible. Let common sense and good manners be the guide.
Travel: Gulf News also pays for travel by staff members on assignment. They may not accept free or discounted transportation or accommodation unless the same discount is available to the public, or the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief has approved it in advance in writing. Staff are also expected to be familiar with the procedures outlined in Chapter 24 of the staff manual.
Exceptions may arise when access to a news event or source can be gained no other way. A journalist covering a military or scientific expedition, for instance, may have no reasonable method to pay for travel. Those arrangements should, however, be the exception.
Review items: Gulf News receives countless unsolicited items, such as books, CDs, DVDs, and food, to review or cover. They are tantamount to press releases.
Accordingly, staff members may keep such items for reference, share them with other staff members, donate them to charity or throw them away. No staff member may sell or otherwise profit by review material. Items of significant value - electronic equipment, rare books and the like - must be returned.
Gifts: Staff members are prohibited from accepting gifts from or giving gifts to news sources, potential news sources or those who seek to influence coverage.
Exceptions can be made when reporting in countries and cultures where refusing to accept or provide a modest gift would give offense. When in doubt about the appropriateness of a gift, ask the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief.
Honorariums: When invited, Gulf News staff members should be permitted to speak before trade groups, community organisations, etc. However, staff members should not accept honorariums from groups they regularly cover or are related to their work.
In the event the invitation to speak requires travel or special accommodation, Gulf News should normally cover all reasonable costs for legitimate engagements.
Instances where a staff member will be permitted to accept expenses as part of a speaking engagement will be decided on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief, using ethics - not economics - as the overriding factor. If a staff member does accept expenses, he or she will not cover the event as a story.
There is one exception: In the event the presentation is a professional seminar before a group of peers, staff members are permitted to accept expenses for travel, tickets and admission: Gulf News staff members should make every effort to pay for admission to cultural events that they intend to cover. Critics may accept free admission to events they attend in order to write reviews. Arts organisations commonly provide critics’ press passes in pairs.
Because viewing and discussing it with someone else enriches a critic’s appreciation of a performance or work of art, a critic may accept the additional pass for a colleague, spouse, companion or friend with an assigning editor’s approval. Staff members attending cultural and sporting events purely for private enjoyment may not use their affiliation with Gulf News to gain access or to avoid paying.
Misrepresentation: In ordinary circumstances, reporters or photographers ought to identify themselves to news sources. There might be times, however, when circumstances will dictate not identifying ourselves. Only the Managing Editor or the Editor-in-Chief may approve such exceptions.
Plagiarism: Plagiarism exists in many forms, from the wholesale lifting of someone else’s writing to the publication of a press release as news without attribution. Staff writers’ work should be an original work. Do not borrow someone else’s words without attribution.
Paying for news: Any attempt to pay for news or for access to news raises serious questions about the validity of the news and the motives of seller and buyer. Except in extraordinary circumstances - approved in advance, in writing, by the Managing Editor or Editor-in-Chief - we do not pay for news.
Employee responsibility: Any employee who is aware that another staff member has caused or intends to cause publication of a falsehood has a responsibility to alert a supervisor. Any employee who suspects a fellow staff member of committing ethical violations is encouraged to report the matter.
Corrections: Gulf News strives to guard against inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortion through either emphasis or omission. Errors, whether made by the reporter, editor or source, shall be acknowledged.
This includes all matters of fact, including the misspelling of proper names. When an error has been made, it shall be acknowledged in a straightforward correction, not disguised or glossed over in a follow-up story. Corrections and clarifications shall appear as soon as possible after confirming the correction or clarification is necessary.
Contests: Photographs, stories, headlines or artwork shall not be submitted to, nor awards accepted from, contests sponsored by organisations or special-interest groups that we may normally cover. Participating in such contests may create the appearance of conflict of interest or raise doubt about our ability to report fairly on that group or organisation.
By the same token, material shall not be submitted to, nor awards accepted from, contests where the entry will be used for the sole purpose of advertising or promotion. However, contests that are judged by professional journalists or non-partisan experts are acceptable, even if sponsored by a commercial institution.
Portions of this document have been adopted from policy guidelines laid down by the Knight Rider Group, The Tribune Group and the New York Times for which we gratefully acknowledge.
An open letter from the Editor-in-Chief to the readers:
I am often asked this question, especially when interacting with the younger readers: “Do you think newspapers will survive?”
I have no definitive answer to that question, as is the case for the numerous media experts who frequently debate the future of newspapers. But, several readership studies have thrown up one word that just might be key to survival for print journalism. And that is: “reinvention”.
We have to challenge every day, every hour, every minute, every second of our existence as journalists. Our quest is for truth and our endeavour to present all sides of it. A free and fair newspaper presents all aspects of an argument, in a neutral manner. We have to rethink everything that we do and have done in the past.
The vital part in that process is maintaining loyal readers while attracting new, younger ones. Readers should be granted respect and a forum to express their views. In Gulf News the main platform for that is the space devoted to readers’ letters. It is a place that only has the voice of the readers, edited for clarity, structure, factual error and space. We receive hundreds of responses through email, fax and phone calls. Each one is important to us, but space allows only a few to be published.
The fact that readers have taken the effort to pen their thoughts across to us make them invaluable. The reader comments are picked based on the various viewpoints they offer, argument presented, relevance and focus. We try and give as many people as possible an opportunity to be heard.
As Gulf News and its sister publications evolve and develop, the need exists to formulate basic guidelines to communicate and collaborate with readers. No set of rules could possibly address all situations. But, we have attempted to create a Reader’s Policy based on best practices followed by newspapers around the world. The guidelines in it describe the values and standards we pursue in the journalism we practise at Gulf News. We see this as more of a decision-making process than a set of regulations.
Building an adaptive, constructive culture that is attuned to readers is our primary goal. Such a process changes the ethos of the organisation and treats readers with respect.
The first consolidated step in that direction has been the appointment of the Readers Editor Anupa Kurian.
What is her role and how does it matter to you, the reader?
She is your representative, your point of contact in the newsroom. She is the reader advocate in all news planning and strategy discussions. Her aim is to help the newspaper achieve maximum interaction with its readers and address any concerns or complaints that you may have with the newspaper. She will ensure solutions are achieved and implemented.
Will this guarantee perfect service?
We hope so. There will be the occasional failure, but we will evaluate them objectively and learn, to prevent them from happening too often. It is about creating an environment that is more outward looking and responsive to change. For a newspaper, objectivity is not just an idea that is debated in its editorial pages but a social responsibility.
Objectivity must be supported by a set of guidelines that specify for readers how the newspaper and its editors will handle situations that may arise, to make readers feel as respected, participating members of the newsgathering and disseminating process. Here we are presenting some of those tools to give readers a fair idea of the guiding principle.
All of it may not be to your satisfaction, but we hope that you will use these means to have a dynamic and robust dialogue with Gulf News, to keep us relevant and alive.
Abdul Hamid Ahmad
A letter should be a rational dialogue about an issue or idea.
It should at all times conform to the code of civil discourse.
The maximum word count is 100.
The letters section has no political inclination. All views are published.
Readers are free to either agree or disagree with any of the opinions, stories or news reports published in the newspaper.
The letters should be exclusive to Gulf News and preferably in response to an article that appeared in the newspaper in the recent past.
To ensure that the letters are honest opinions, we may get in touch with a reader once they are selected, for which we need their contact numbers and address.
Reader privacy will be protected at all times.
Letters are subject to editing, to give as many readers as possible a chance to express their views.
The newspaper reserves the right to publish, edit and limit the number of reader writers. This is to allow for the space to be used by as many readers as possible.
Writers are required to source their information accurately; it is not the responsibility of the newspaper. The publication of a letter is not an endorsement of that viewpoint by the newspaper
Preference is given to letters that are in response to a report/news that was published in Gulf News.
Preference is given to submissions by members of the Gulf News Reader’s Club.
We do not publish open letters or third-party letters. But, if the need arises, the Editor-in-Chief could allow it after clearance.
We don’t usually accept unsolicited submissions whether faxed or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org . This holds especially for freelance writers and photographers. However, if they are valid and of quality, the Reader’s Desk sends it to the appropriate section to follow up. We are not responsible for the loss or return of these unsolicited pieces.
All letters need a full name, emirate, city and country. Name can be withheld by request.
No defamatory comments will be entertained - a statement that is capable of damaging the reputation of a person or organisation. This opens up the newspaper to libel.Avoid contempt of court - any comment that risks prejudicing ongoing or forthcoming court proceedings. This includes naming a person or speculating about their whereabouts after a court has issued an injunction against doing so.
Responses that incite people to commit any crime, including racial hatred will not be accepted.
Plagiarised content will not be accepted.
Responses that are unlawful, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or racially offensive will not be allowed.
A reader is not allowed to impersonate another person or use a false name or a name you are unauthorised to use to create a false identity or email address or try to mislead others as to the identity or origins of any communications.
No personal information in the responses will be published including address, place of employment, name of institution, telephone number and email address.
No advertising of services or websites will be accepted.
Only submissions in English will be taken.
Impersonating other people is unacceptable.
Offensive or otherwise, responses with non-specific user names will not be published.
We receive hundreds of letters every day. So many readers’ submissions might not get printed. We apologise for this.
Gulf News is committed to being fair. If there is an error in the newspaper we will correct it promptly and fully.
If you come across any factual errors, mistakes or inaccuracies, please let us know by emailing email@example.com
We will publish corrections as quickly as possible, be it factual errors, mistakes or inaccuracies
Our policy is to be correct and if we are wrong, to publish a correction the next day.
Clarifications will also be published if important details that impacted the presentation of the story were omitted, despite the overall story being accurate.
Corrections will be published in the same place every day.
The Gulf News Reader's Desk gives every citizen the chance to be a journalist.
If you have a story idea, suggestion or complaint regarding the editorial content of the newspaper, call the above number. If staff have been rude to you and not listened, call the number.
All staff, including the people manning the switchboard, is responsible to answer reader calls at all times.
Everybody is obliged to listen to the reader.
Non-cooperation with the reader could result in appropriate disciplinary action.
If you have a story idea, suggestion or complaint regarding the editorial content of the newspaper, call (04) 4067666.
If staff have been rude to you and not listened, call (04) 4067666. If you want to convey a comment regarding an issue, call (04) 4067666.
Reader feedback will be taken into account when planning editorial content, make Gulf News your own.
The working hours for the desk are from 8:30am to 8:30pm Sunday to Thursday, and from 8:30am to 6pm on Friday and Saturday.
1. When you submit any contribution (including any text, photographs or graphics) to Al Nisr Publishing LLC and Al Nisr Media FZ LLC, you agree, by submitting your contribution, to grant the Owners a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub-licensable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, play, make available to the public, and exercise all copyright and publicity rights with respect to your contribution worldwide and/or to incorporate your contribution in other works in any media now known or later developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in your contribution. If you do not want to grant to the Owners the rights set out above, you must not submit your contribution.
2. Further to paragraph 1, by submitting your contribution, you:
2.1 warrant that your contribution; is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to the Owners for all the purposes specified above; is not defamatory; will not cause harm; and does not infringe any law; and indemnify the Owners against all legal fees, damages and other expenses that may be incurred by the Owners as a result of your breach of the above warranty; and waive any moral rights in your contribution for the purposes of its submission to and publication and the purposes specified above. Any material submitted, is assumed to have been supplied in full knowledge and acceptance of these terms.
Information and content guidelines courtesy: Freedom Forum, Poynter Online, The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and Readership Institute
Gulf News has traditionally tackled all reader-related consumer complaints. It is a customer service that we have offered over the years.
However, several factors have changed including the size of the readership and the number of businesses in the country.
As both escalate at a fast pace, we have decided to evaluate our consumer complaint policy and make the necessary alterations that reflect the changing environment in the country.
1. The Reader’s Desk will tackle consumer complaints that are related to organisations/companies that offer a public service such as telecom providers, banks, housing, health sector and government departments including the municipal bodies, water and electricity boards, roads and transport authority and other emergency services.
1.1 All other consumer complaints will not be entertained.
1.2 Gulf News reserves the right to reject a complaint at any stage of the process. The reader will be informed of this.
1.3 A consumer complaint related to the sectors covered as detailed in paragraph 1 would first be evaluated for the Nation section, if they could pursue it as a “Reader Complaint” article.
1.4 If not, it will then be appraised to see if the response/result would be of service/value to a larger reader base.
1.5 If yes, the following procedure will be put into action:
The reader will be contacted and asked to fill in a form with the following details —
Identify the business/organisation:
Describe the problem:
2. If the reader is not a Gulf News subscriber, we will only pursue the complaint if it is of high value to our readers when published. Otherwise the reader will be informed that we cannot pursue it.
3. Procedure for tackling a consumer complaint:
• Once the form is filled and returned, a complaint letter will be sent to the organisation/business with the details.
• The company/organisation has the right to get in touch with the complainee to resolve the matter directly. A reader can withdraw his or her complaint if satisfied, but we would need this confirmation in written format from the company/organisation.
• It will be first sent to the manager or the company's customer service representative. Most problems should be resolved at this level.
3. After two reminders, each one 10 days apart, if there is still no response, the head of the company could be contacted. But, this is optional and dependent on whether the complaint is worth being pursued further.
4. For complaints that we cannot tackle, we would advice the reader to file it with the Economic Department or a consumer service body.
All reader submissions must be of original authorship, unless otherwise intended. All submissions have to provide the following information in a clear and detailed manner: Name of the original author, contact number, email address, where, when and how the photograph was taken.
Plagiarised submissions will result in stringent legal action against the person submitting the content. They will be named and shamed in print and banned from any further submissions to the organisation.
In case of photographs that involve members of public, the person submitting the photograph, who would be the original author, needs to have obtained clear permission to include them in the photograph’s composition.
We reserve the right to reject submissions at any stage.
Unsolicited submissions are subject to all of the above-mentioned conditions.
When selecting submissions for publishing or display on any of our digital platforms, preference will be given to Gulf News subscribers and Gulf News Readers Club members.
Endangering the environment, animals or a person in the process of taking a photograph is unacceptable.
Technically manipulated work using photo editing software will not be accepted, unless otherwise specified.
All submissions can be used on multiple digital and print platforms of the organisation.