(This represents a synthesis of Australian Property Investor Magazine policies and is not meant to be comprehensive.)
These policies are meant to guide Australian Property Investor Magazine journalism as we deliver news and information in a rapidly changing media environment. We consider these guidelines to be a “living document” that we will continually modify and update based on feedback from our journalists, from our readers and from our perceptions of our changing needs. Because the circumstances under which information is obtained and reported vary widely from one case to the next, these guidelines should not be understood as establishing hard and fast rules or as covering every situation that might arise.
Conflict of interest
This news organisation is pledged to avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest wherever and whenever possible. We have adopted stringent policies on these issues, conscious that they may be more restrictive than is customary in the world of private business. In particular:
We pay our own way.
We accept no gifts from news sources. We accept no free trips. We neither seek nor accept preferential treatment that might be rendered because of the positions we hold. Exceptions to the no-gift rule are few and obvious — invitations to meals, for example, may be accepted when they are occasional and innocent but not when they are repeated and their purpose is deliberately calculating. Free admissions to any event that is not free to the public are prohibited. The only exception is for seats not sold to the public, as in a press box, or tickets provided for a critic’s review. Whenever possible, arrangements will be made to pay for such seats.
We do not accept payment — either honoraria or expenses — from governments, government-funded organisations, groups of government officials, political groups or organisations that take positions on controversial issues. A reporter or editor also cannot accept payment from any person, company or organisation that he or she covers. And we should avoid accepting money from individuals, companies, trade associations or organisations that lobby government or otherwise try to influence issues the newspaper covers. Broadcast organisations, educational institutions, social organisations and many professional organisations usually fall outside this provision unless the reporter or editor is involved in coverage of them.
It is important that no freelance assignments and no honoraria be accepted that might in any way be interpreted as disguised gratuities. We make every reasonable effort to be free of obligation to news sources and to special interests. We must be wary of entanglement with those whose positions render them likely to be subjects of journalistic interest and examination. Our private behaviour as well as our professional behaviour must not bring discredit to our profession or to the company.
We avoid active involvement in any partisan causes — politics, community affairs, social action, demonstrations — that could compromise or seem to compromise our ability to report and edit fairly. Relatives cannot fairly be made subject to company rules, but it should be recognised that their employment or their involvement in causes can at least appear to compromise our integrity. The business and professional ties of traditional family members or other members of your household must be disclosed to department heads.
Reporters and editors of the company are committed to fairness. While arguments about objectivity are endless, the concept of fairness is something that editors and reporters can easily understand and pursue. Fairness results from a few simple practices: No story is fair if it omits facts of major importance or significance. Fairness includes completeness.
No story is fair if it includes essentially irrelevant information at the expense of significant facts. Fairness includes relevance.
No story is fair if it consciously or unconsciously misleads or even deceives the reader. Fairness includes honesty — levelling with the reader.
No story is fair if it covers individuals or organisations that have not been given the opportunity to address assertions or claims about them made by others. Fairness includes diligently seeking comment and taking that comment genuinely into account.
Australian Property Investor Magazine respects taste and decency, understanding that society’s concepts of taste and decency are constantly changing. A word offensive to the last generation can be part of the next generation’s common vocabulary. But we shall avoid prurience. We shall avoid profanities and obscenities unless their use is so essential to a story of significance that its meaning is lost without them. In no case shall obscenities be used without the approval of the executive or managing editors.
If editors decide that content containing potentially offensive material has a legitimate news value, editors should use visual and/or text warnings about such material. For example, we may link to a webpage that contains material that does not meet standards for company original content, but we let users know what they might see before they click the link by including a warning, such as “Warning: Some images on this site contain graphic images of war.”
Finally, we do not link to sites that aid or abet illegal activity. Consult with us if you have a question about whether a site falls under this rule.
When using networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., for reporting or for our personal lives, we must protect our professional integrity and remember: Australian Property Investor Magazine journalists are always Australian Property Investor Magazine journalists.
Social media accounts maintained by Australian Property Investor Magazine journalists reflect upon the reputation and credibility of the newsroom. Even as we express ourselves in more personal and informal ways to forge better connections with our readers, we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Australian Property Investor Magazine for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence. Every comment or link we share should be considered public information, regardless of privacy settings.
API journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything — including photographs or video — that could objectively be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favouritism.
Verification and fact-checking standards
Australian Property Investor Magazine reporters have primary responsibility for reporting, writing and fact-checking their stories. Stories are subject to review by one or more editors. Editors who oversee digital platforms also may be involved in the presentation of stories as well as headlines, news alerts and newsletters.
Australian Property Investor Magazine strives for an accurate and complete news report. We endeavour to be promptly responsive in correcting errors in any material published.
Updating a digital report
Our individual pieces of journalism evolve as we sharpen and improve them. Our readers expect that from us in the digital age. It is unnecessary to put notes on stories stating that a story has been updated unless there is a particular reason to note the addition of new information or other change; the time stamp signals to readers that they are reading a developing story. It is necessary to use a correction, clarification or editor’s note to inform readers whenever we correct a significant mistake.
A correction that calls into question the entire substance of an article, raises a significant ethical matter or addresses whether an article did not meet our standards, may require an editor’s note and be followed by an explanation of what is at issue. A senior editor must approve the addition of an editor’s note to a story.
Policy on sources
Australian Property Investor Magazine is committed to disclosing to its readers the sources of the information in its stories to the maximum possible extent. We want to make our reporting as transparent to the readers as possible so they may know how and where we got our information. Transparency is honest and fair, two values we cherish.
Dealing with sources
We strive to treat sources fairly. This means putting statements we quote into context, and summarising the arguments of people we quote in ways that are recognisably fair and accurate. Potentially controversial statements by public figures and others should be quoted in a complete sentence or paragraph when possible, and in context. In some cases, this will mean making clear what question was being answered when the statement was made.
When seeking comment from people who are the subject of a story, we should give them a reasonable opportunity to respond to us. This means not calling at the last minute before deadline if we have any choice about timing.
We do not promise sources that we will refrain from additional reporting or efforts to verify the information they may give us.
We should not publish ad hominem quotations from unnamed sources. Sources who want to take a shot at someone should do so in their own names.
We should avoid blind quotations whose only purpose is to add colour to a story.
We do not use pseudonyms, and we do not mislead our readers about the identities of people who appear in our stories. In the rare situations when we decide to identify someone by other than their full name, we do so in a straightforward manner — by using a first name only, for example. Editors must participate in decisions to provide less than a full name, and we must explain to readers why we are not using full names.
We do not fool or mislead sources. When identifying ourselves, we say we are reporters for the company. Our reporting should be honourable; we should be prepared to explain publicly anything we do to get a story.
We must be truthful about the source of our information. Facts and quotations in a story that were not produced by our own reporting must be attributed. Attribution of material from other media must be total. Plagiarism is not permitted. It is the policy of this newspaper to give credit to other publications that develop exclusive stories worthy of coverage by the company.
Readers should be able to distinguish between what the reporter saw and what the reporter obtained from other sources such as wire services, pool reporters, email, websites, etc.
We place a premium value on original reporting. We expect Australian Property Investor Magazine reporters to see as much as they can of the story they are reporting and to talk to as many participants as possible. Reporters should consider the advantages of reporting from the scene of events they are covering whenever that is possible.
If a reporter was not present at a scene described in a story, the story should make that clear. Assertions that something actually happened although it was unseen by the reporter should be attributed, so the narrative device of describing an event as it was recounted to us by witnesses must include attribution. If we reconstruct statements or exchanges between people based on the recollections of those people or witnesses who heard them speak, we must attribute those recollections transparently. If you are unsure about the application of these guidelines in a particular situation, discuss it with your editors.
In some circumstances where a source has allowed us to see something that reporters would not otherwise be able to observe, special problems of attribution may arise. They should always be discussed with editors.
Any significant reporting by a stringer, staff member or other company employee should be credited in a byline or a tagline at the end of a story. When such people take notes from broadcasts of news events on radio or television, conduct basic research or check routine facts, they need not be credited.
Journalistic ground rules can be confusing, but our goal is clarity in our dealings with sources and readers. This means explaining our ground rules to sources, and giving readers as much information as possible about how we learned the information in our stories. If a source is not on the record, it is important to establish ground rules at the beginning of a conversation. In a taped interview, it is preferable for the discussion of ground rules to be on the tape. We strongly prefer on-the-record interviews to all other types, but we recognise that getting sources on the record is not always possible. When it is not, we owe readers explanations as to why not, as discussed above.
We should start virtually all interviews with the presumption that they are on the record. Inexperienced sources — usually ordinary people who unexpectedly find themselves the news — should clearly understand that you are a reporter and should not be surprised to find themselves quoted in the publication.
A source may be willing to give us information for our guidance or to prompt further reporting, on the understanding that we will not use his or her comments as the basis for publication.
Quoting sources and sharing information
Our objective in quoting people is to capture both their words and intended meaning accurately. That requires care in negotiating ground rules with sources. We do not allow sources to change the rules governing specific quotations after the fact. Once a quote is on the record, it remains there.
Sometimes, a source will agree to be interviewed only if we promise to read quotations back to the source before publication. We should not allow sources to change what was said in an original interview, although accuracy or the risk of losing an on-the-record quote from a crucial source may sometimes require it. A better and more acceptable alternative is to permit a source to add to a quotation and then explain that sequence to readers.
We must strive always to get a rich variety of voices into our work. This means avoiding dependence on the same academics or public figures for reactions to stories.
Diversity is at the core of Australian Property Investor Magazine journalism. Accurately reporting stories from around the country means engaging a variety of voices as interviewees and first-person writers, striving for a staff that reflect a range of backgrounds and life experiences, and seeking feedback from all who would give it.