Code of Practice, Tunisia Live

This code of practice was updated on 20/6/12. It supersedes all previous codes.
1. Mission statement
2. Code of Ethics
2.1 Reporting Guidelines
2.1.1 Honesty
2.1.2 Impartiality
2.1.3 Fairness
2.1.4 Respect for privacy
2.1.5 Relevance
2.1.6 Attributing sources and confidentiality
2.1.7 Verifying information and authenticity
2.1.8 Writing balanced news reports
2.1.9 Opinion
2.1.10 Images and video recording
2.1.11 Plagiarism
2.1.12 Paying for interviews and cash for comment
2.2 Editorial Guidelines
2.2.1 Balance
2.2.2 Corrections
2.2.3 Public interest
2.3 Personal behavior and conflict of interest
2.3.1 Accepting gifts and quid pro quo
2.3.2 Declaration of interest
2.3.3 Identification as a journalist
2.4 Advertising and sponsorship
2.5 Harassment
3. Administrative procedures for breaches of the code
4. Dealing with complaints
5. Code of conduct for external contributors and article repliers
6. Updates to the code of practice

   Born in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, Tunisia Live aims to connect Tunisia to the world by providing accurate, verified and balanced information about Tunisia in English.
  Tunisia Live aims to contribute to a diverse, free and informed society by reporting honestly, fairly and accurately. We pledge to hold decision makers accountable and we pledge to be held accountable by our readers.
Tunisia Live is an independent news organization. We do not act on behalf of any political party, government or corporation. Our only agenda is to the truth and our only loyalty is to our readers.

   We are committed to fostering the well being of the community and to the promotion of equal access to opportunity for all Tunisians so they can achieve their potential.
  We are committed to fostering transparency and accountability in all aspects of Tunisian society
  We are committed to empowering people, promoting leadership and initiative in Tunisia by providing opportunities and programs for journalists and young people.
  We are committed to developing a society that is diverse, respectful of differences, open to the world, and aware of global issues.  
We are committed to developing a global media landscape that is honest, reliable, balanced, accountable and free.
   Tunisia Live's reputation as a credible source of news and information is built over time and depends on the trust of our readers. We take breaches of that trust extremely seriously. We aim to maintain the highest possible standards of integrity and honesty. We welcome honest and sincere criticism from our readers where they feel we are not living up to our promises.  
The code of ethics set out in this document applies to all employees and interns at Tunisia Live. It is intended to provide a guide to reporters, editors, photographers, video journalists and other contributors. It is also intended to provide a guide for the public to judge the work and credibility of Tunisia Live. Tunisia Live aims to adhere to the code of practice as closely possible and if breaches of the code occur, to resolve the issue in a manner that is as open and accountable as possible.  
This code of practice is a living document and will be updated from time to time. It is based on the Australian Journalists'Code of Ethics as well as similar codes in a number of internationally recognized media organizations. These codes have been adapted to suit the current Tunisian media landscape and the specific needs of Tunisia Live.

   Tunisia Live reporters will work honestly, with integrity, for the public good. They will tell the truth to the best of their ability. They will strive for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. They will not suppress, distort or knowingly misrepresent relevant facts. Reporters at all times will act with integrity and treat others with integrity in the interests of the greater public good.  
2.1.2 Impartiality

   Tunisia Live reporters will not allow personal interest, or any belief, relationship or commitment, to undermine their accuracy, fairness or independence.

   Tunisia Live reporters will treat their subjects fairly and respect their dignity. Reporters will be careful not to exploit those who are vulnerable or are unfamiliar in dealing with the media.
   Tunisia Live reporters will balance the right to privacy with the public interest. When assessing the public interest, Tunisia Live considers that a member of the public generally has a greater right to privacy than a public official or person seeking power, publicity or office.
   Tunisia Live reporters will not overly emphasize personal characteristics that are not relevant to the story. This includes age, race, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and physical disability. Reporters will avoid identifying a person as belonging to a particular social group or category unless it is clear that the person themselves identifies as a member of that group.
   Tunisia Live reporters will seek to attribute all information to its source. Reporters will carefully consider the motivation and reliability of their sources before using them. Before confidentiality is given, the reporter will first consider the source's motives and seek alternative attributable sources if possible. Where confidences are accepted, the reporter will respect and protect them in all appropriate circumstances. All secondary sources of news and information as well as photos and images should be indicated so that they give appropriate credit to their authors/creators.
   Tunisia Live reporters will not publish rumor or unverified information. The accuracy of information will be confirmed from at least one additional, independent source wherever possible. Tunisia Live will not repeat suspect or unverified reports from other news sources without first verifying their accuracy and authenticity.
   News articles on Tunisia Live will present more than one side of a story. Reporters will strive to give the subjects of their story the right of reply where appropriate. They will seek out sources which represent a range of views and opinions. They will refrain from using language that may distort or unfairly orient a reader/viewer's understanding of the story. When reporting political stories they will seek responses from both government and opposition sources where appropriate.
   Tunisia Live acknowledges the uppermost need to distinguish news from opinion. Opinion will be clearly labeled as such and will only be written by news reporters or editors with guidance from senior editors. Tunisia Live aims to actively solicit a range of opinion contributions from external writers. Opinion contributions should cover the spectrum of political and social points of view as fairly as possible. The opinions of external contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Tunisia Live and should not be construed as doing so.
   Images will not be doctored or changed in a way that misleads the public. Images used in an article will treat their subject fairly and with dignity. Images of victims or vulnerable people will only be used when there is an overwhelming and manifest public interest. Private citizens will not be recorded in secret or without their permission, except if there is an overwhelming public interest. Representations and reconstructions of events will be clearly labeled. The decision on whether or not to publish graphic images or those likely to cause offense or distress ultimately rests with the editor in chief.  

   Plagiarism is never acceptable at Tunisia Live. Along with the fabrication of sources and corrupt dealings, it is one of the most serious forms of professional misconduct that exist and will not be tolerated. Translating an article and republishing it without crediting the original source is considered by Tunisia Live to be an act of plagiarism.
   Tunisia Live will never pay for an interview or receive payment for coverage or interviews.  

   At an editorial level, Tunisia Live aims to ensure not only that articles published by Tunisia Live are fair and balanced, we also aim to ensure that the news site as a whole offers a range of articles, opinions and perspectives in a way that is fair and balanced.

   Where errors or mistakes are found in articles, corrections will be made promptly. Corrections to factual information or other major corrections or updates will be clearly indicated at the end of the article indicating the nature of the correction. Grammatical and spelling mistakes can be corrected without notification.
   When deciding on whether the publication of information is in the public interest, Tunisia Live will carefully consider the ethical and legal consequences of publication.
   All people working for Tunisia Live in any capacity need to be open and honest about the relationships they have with the public. They must not accept money, gifts or favors from anyone where there is an expectation of a reciprocal service or favor.
  Where an arrangement is made for a service, for example an invitation to a function or transportation with a parliamentary delegation, this must be approved by senior management and a public record kept.
  Any gift or service given to members of staff while acting in a professional capacity and above the value of 20 dinars shall become the property of Tunisia Live. Gifts will only be kept by Tunisia Live if doing so does not create a conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise, and does not affect the public perception of impartiality and fairness. Where this is not the case, gifts will be returned or donated to charity. The public will be informed of the source and value of all kept gifts through a list published on the website.
   Writers, editors and other media representatives must declare all potential conflicts of interest. Reporters should avoid reporting on stories where they have an interest, or using sources with whom they have an ongoing non-professional relationship, which may affect their impartiality, perceived or otherwise. Reporters and editors must not work on stories featuring companies or organizations in which they have a financial interest. Tunisia Live employees and interns must not freelance without prior agreement with management.
   Reporters and editors must identify themselves as working for Tunisia Live when dealing professionally with the public, showing their professional badge where appropriate.
   Tunisia Live is a private company that accepts advertising and sponsorship. However it never accepts money, gifts or services in return for editorial favors or positive coverage. Advertising and sponsorship is accepted on the express understanding that editorial and journalistic integrity will be maintained. A public list of all sponsors will be kept online. Advertising will be clearly distinguished from editorial and news reporting.  

   Tunisia Live is an equal opportunity employer. Staff members and interns have the right to be treated equitably and fairly and to not be discriminated against or receive unwanted attention because of gender, origin, color, disability, sexual orientation, age, beliefs or background.

   Tunisia Live takes the code of conduct seriously. Employees and interns who are in breach of the code will be offered training and support. Serious breaches, including plagiarism, false declarations and deliberate misrepresentation may lead to penalties including termination of employment in accordance with national labor laws.
   Tunisia Live is committed to dealing fairly with complaints. All formal complaints should be made by contacting the Editor in Chief through a complaints form on the website. Any complaint about an article must be made within 4 weeks from the date of publication. All complaints will be investigated by a complaints committee and a written response will be given to the complainant within a period of time not exceeding one month. In the event that the committee upholds the complaint, a correction or apology will be made. The committee will also notify the complainant if it does not agree with the complaint, explaining its reasons. The main purpose of the committee is not to defend Tunisia Live from legitimate criticism but to uphold the reputation of the news website by ensuring it conforms with its own code of conduct.    

   Tunisia Live aims to present a range of views and opinions through soliciting contributions from diverse people not directly affiliated with Tunisia Live. The opinions expressed by external contributors of op-eds do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors, writers or owners of Tunisia Live. Tunisia Live encourages people who would like to submit an op-ed to contact the editors before submitting an article. Publication of all op-eds remains the prerogative of the editor in chief.    

   Tunisia Live supports and encourages the public to comment and debate on published articles through a comments section at the end of most articles. In general it is not the policy of Tunisia Live to censor contributions, except in the case where such comments are deemed to be defamatory, to incite hatred or violence, personally insult the author or another commenter, put Tunisia Live at risk of prosecution or are considered to be spam.  
Moderating of comments on articles, as well as social media websites where comments can be made (for example Facebook) will be done by an online community manager. Anyone leaving a comment who feels that they have not been treated fairly has the right to contact the online community manager or the editor in chief. If they are not happy with the response they can also make a formal complaint.

   From time to time Tunisia Live will review its code of practice and update it as necessary. The process of drafting an updated code of practice will be done through consultation with staff and management. Each time an amended code is produced, it will be posted on the Tunisia Live website. Superseded codes of practice will remain posted on the website for a period of at least 5 years.