Editorial Policy

Gathering Material – Editorial Policy

Accuracy is not just about getting facts right. Relevant opinions, as well as facts, must be considered. All relevant information should be weighed to uncover the truth.

Where appropriate to the output and whenever possible, we should:

  • Gather material using first-hand sources.
  • Check facts and statistics, identifying important caveats and limitations.
  • Validate the authenticity of documentary evidence and digital material.
  • Corroborate claims and allegations made by contributors.
  • Weigh, interpret, and contextualize claims, including statistical claims.

In news and current affairs content, achieving due accuracy is more important than speed.

We should strive to witness and gather information first-hand. When this is not possible, we should talk to first-hand sources and, where practicable, corroborate their evidence.

We should be reluctant to rely on a single source. If we must rely on a single source, it should be credible, and a named, on-the-record source is always preferable.

We should, wherever practicable, record our research interviews with sources making serious allegations. When recording might inhibit the source, full notes should be made, preferably at the time or, if not, as soon as possible afterward.

We must check and verify information, facts, and documents where required to achieve accuracy. If we have been unable to verify material, we should usually say so and attribute the information.

Live Content

Achieving due accuracy in live content can be challenging, as there may be little opportunity to verify factual claims. Where practicable, especially if an issue is controversial, content makers should take steps to ensure due accuracy.

Where possible, risks should be identified in advance and measures taken to mitigate them. This may include ensuring appropriate preparation so that the content contains sufficient challenge or context or ensuring other contributors can provide additional challenges. Significant inaccuracies that may arise should be corrected quickly.

Statistics and Risk

We should reserve the same skepticism for statistics as we do for facts or quotes and not necessarily take numbers at face value. When our output includes statistics, we should explain the numbers clearly, put them into context, weigh, interpret, and, where appropriate, challenge them, present them clearly, and attribute them. The statistics must be accurate and verified where necessary, with important caveats and limitations explained. We should use a range of evidence to put statistical claims into context and help audiences judge their magnitude and importance. Where claims are wrong or misleading, they should be challenged.

The reporting of risk can impact the public's perception of that risk, particularly with health or crime stories. We should avoid unduly worrying our audiences and contextualize our reports to be clear about the likelihood of the risk occurring. This is especially true in reporting health stories that may cause individuals to alter their behavior in ways that could be harmful. We should consider the emotional impact pictures and personal testimony can have, particularly on perceptions of risk.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content raises particular challenges. We should not assume that the material is accurate and, depending on how we plan to use it, should take reasonable steps to seek verification. We must take care over how we use any material that may have been supplied by a member of a lobby group or anyone with a vested interest in the story, rather than a disinterested bystander. We should ensure that user-generated content is clearly identified as such.

Internet and Social Media

Even apparently reliable sources of information on the web may not always be accurate. It may be necessary to check who is running the website or confirm with an individual or organization that the material relevant to them is genuine.

Care needs to be taken to distinguish fact from rumor, particularly – but not exclusively – on where misinformation may be deliberate and where error or rumor can spread around the world in minutes, while corrections find it harder to gain traction.

Additional scrutiny may be necessary if material from a social media site or other internet source is being used to corroborate a fact. Material that we did not gather ourselves should be attributed.

Third Parties

Material supplied by third parties, including news providers, needs to be treated with appropriate caution, taking into account the reputation of the source.

We should normally only rely on an agency report if it can be substantiated by a Entgh reporter or if it is attributed to a reputable news agency.

We should only use other material supplied by third parties if it is credible and reliable. This includes weather reports, financial markets information, and music charts.

Any credit or attribution included relating to the use of third-party material should be in accordance with the appropriate credit guidelines.

We should only broadcast material from third parties who may have a personal or professional interest in its subject matter if there is an editorial justification. The source of this material should be identified. This includes material from the emergency services, charities, and environmental groups.

We should be reluctant to use video and audio or other similar material from third parties. We do not normally use extracts from such material if we are capable of gathering it ourselves. The editorial significance of the material, rather than simply its impact, must be considered before it is used. If it is editorially justified to use it, then we must explain the circumstances and clearly label the source of the material in our output.

Notes

We must take accurate, reliable, and, wherever possible, contemporaneous notes of all significant research and other relevant information. We must keep records of research, including written and electronic correspondence, background notes, and documents. They should be kept in a way that allows double-checking, particularly at the scripting stage, and, if necessary, by another member of the team.

When we broadcast serious allegations made by an anonymous source, full, timely notes must be kept of interviews, conversations, and information that provide the basis for the story.

Misleading Audiences

We must not knowingly and materially mislead our audiences with our content. We may need to clarify the nature of some content by labeling (for example, verbally, in text, or with visual or audio cues) to avoid being misleading.

We should normally identify on-air and online sources of information and significant contributors and provide their credentials so that our audiences can judge their status.

When quoting an anonymous source, especially a source making serious allegations, we must take all appropriate steps to protect their identity. However, we should give the audience what information we can about them in a way that does not materially mislead about the source's status.

Whenever a promise of anonymity is made, both the journalist and the source must understand how this commitment extends to all those in Entgh who are aware of the identity of the source.

Where it is sought, the relevant editor, including the Director-General, as editor-in-chief, has the right to be told a source's identity and is equally obliged to keep this information confidential. In cases involving serious allegations, we should resist any attempt by an anonymous source to prevent their identity from being revealed to a senior Entgh editor or, for independent production companies, the relevant commissioning editor. If this happens, it should be made clear that the information obtained confidentially may not be broadcast.

Any proposal to rely on be over-dramatic in a misleading or sensationalist way. Reconstructions are when events are quite explicitly re-staged. They should normally be based on a substantial and verifiable body of evidence. They should also be identifiable as reconstructions, for example by using verbal or visual labeling or visual or audio cues, such as slow-motion or grading. It should be obvious to the audience where reconstruction begins and ends.

News programs should not normally stage reconstructions of current events because of the risk of confusing the audience. But reconstructions staged by others may be reported.

Drama

When a drama portrays real people or events, it is inevitable that the creative realization of some dramatic elements such as characterisation, dialogue, and atmosphere may be fictional. However, the portrayal should be based on a substantial and well-sourced body of evidence wherever practicable and we should ensure it does not distort the known facts, including chronology, unduly.

Sensitivities will often be at their highest when a drama has, as its central purpose, the portrayal of living people, people with living close relatives, or recent events. Care should be taken to achieve due accuracy.

It is important to explain the drama's factual basis (or use of dramatic license) with clear signposting.

Archive Material

Archive material should not be used in a way that materially misleads the audience about a situation, events, or what is being depicted. Labeling may be required.

Correcting Mistakes

We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct such mistakes quickly, clearly, and appropriately. Inaccuracy may lead to a complaint of unfairness. An effective way of correcting a serious factual error is saying what was wrong as well as putting it right.

On-demand and Online Content

Where mistakes in our on-demand content, which is available online after the broadcast, are unlikely to be a serious breach of editorial standards, a correction should be published on that platform, so that it is visible before the output is played. Such on-demand content does not then normally need to be changed or revoked.

Where mistakes in our on-demand content are likely to be considered a serious breach of editorial standards, the content must be corrected and the mistake acknowledged, or in exceptional cases removed. We need to be transparent about any changes made unless there are editorial or legal reasons not to do so.

In online text content, any mistake that alters the editorial meaning should normally be corrected and we should be transparent about what was wrong.

These standards and practices ensure that Entgh maintains the highest level of accuracy, reliability, and integrity in our reporting and content production.