Our Editorial Ethics

We bring stories of social relevance to our readers, we recommend products, services and solutions, and we promote alternative living. As an independent publication, we have to be objective, non-partisan and tell the truth at all times. To establish and maintain credibility with our readers, it is essential that we operate from a position of […]


We bring stories of social relevance to our readers, we recommend products, services and solutions, and we promote alternative living. As an independent publication, we have to be objective, non-partisan and tell the truth at all times. To establish and maintain credibility with our readers, it is essential that we operate from a position of trust.To safeguard this trust, we have established a code of conduct that will be consistently followed by each and every contributor of “The Alternative”.

A) OUR JOURNALISTIC STANDARDS

1. Honesty

All our dealings with sources, staff and our customers will be truthful.We are an independent voice. Our stories, photographs, graphics, recordings, and interactive features etc. should be published solely based on whether they meet our editorial criteria.Our analyses represent our best judgments based on thorough fact checking and research. As a journalist it is our duty to be an observer and not judge.

We do not do stories to cater to any particular agenda – hidden or explicit.

We will clearly differentiate between editorial and commercial material on our website.
We do not support political parties or candidates.            
We are not biased towards/against any NGO/social enterprise/company/individual/group.                                                        
Plagiarism is strictly frowned upon in our organization. As a policy, we do not accept or publish any pre-written material on an organization or individual originating from them.

Submitted articles are also subjected to our editorial checks unless it is a personal experience/view, in which case we will clearly indicate the same while publishing. We vow not to publish facts, information, quotes, pictures etc out of context in a manner that distorts the truth.

2. Accuracy

Our reporting will be accurate, based on information that will be honestly and professionally gathered. Facts and figures, references, all data will be cross-checked more than once to ensure that it is accurate before publishing the same. Our editing standards should be the highest. We will adhere to established editing practices to ensure that all our articles are grammatically, syntactically and semantically correct.

3. Responsibility

We will be sensitive towards all the people/sections of society we feature. We will always give the full story brief and context to the people we interview/shoot. We will be extra cautious when handling children, women, those with special needs, deprived sections of society, especially people who have suffered losses or are grieving. We will always talk to more than one affected person/affecting person to get the right stories. We will always feature work that has been carried out as well as its results when we talk about organizations. If we write an article about an organization that has just begun, we will encapsulate their vision and plans in a clear manner, separating it from work done.

4. Fairness

We give the subjects of a story — people, organizations, institutions and groups — an opportunity to have their views presented. We include relevant portions of those views — or report that the subject declines to comment. We also present differing or dissenting opinions, though they may be subordinate to the main thrust of the story. If someone complains about a story, we will investigate promptly and even-handedly. If we are right, we will stand by the story regardless of who is complaining. If we are wrong, we will say so and make appropriate amends.

5. Attribution

On record: We are free to use all material from the interview, including information and quotations, and to identify the source.

Not for attribution: We are free to use information and quotations, but we agree not to identify the source. “Not for attribution” is an acceptable method of gathering information, though not the one we prefer. We generally should have more than one source for information that we can’t attribute, both to double-check its veracity and to guard against being used or misled by a single source. In situations where we wish to report, without attribution, extremely sensitive information, we should seek approval beforehand from the immediate editor, the Chief Editor.

Background:  The information can be published but only under conditions negotiated with the source. Generally, the sources do not want their names published but will agree to a description of their position. In case of affected people who do not want to be named, we will use other names to protect identity and indicate so in the article. In general, information obtained under any of these circumstances can be pursued with other sources to be placed on the record. We will make such decisions carefully because “The Alternative” generally will have to honour whatever arrangement we make.

Routine attribution: “He said” means we got the quote from the source — in person, at a press conference, or on the phone. “He said in a statement” or “in a report” means the quote came from a written statement or press release, or from any official document. “He said in an e-mail interview” means exactly that.If the quote comes from another news source, we must credit it. Information taken from the Internet must be vetted according to our standards of accuracy and attributed to the original source. File, library or archive photos, audio or videos must be identified as such. For projects, attribution can be contained in an extended editor’s note, usually at the end, detailing interviews, research and methodology. The goal is to provide a reader with enough information to have full confidence in the story’s veracity.

6. Quotations

We do not alter quotations unless it is flawed because of grammar or lack of clarity, or we wish to shorten it in the interest of length. It is the writer’s responsibility to render the paraphrased quote so as to adhere to the true meaning of the original. If a quote’s meaning is too murky to be paraphrased accurately, it should not be used. Dates, events etc of public knowledge should be verified before it is put in a quote, even if the person “said” the wrong thing.  (eg: if someone believed and said that Indira Gandhi died in 1990). When relevant, stories should provide information about the setting in which a quotation was obtained – for example, a press conference, phone interview or hallway conversation with the reporter. Use of regional dialects should generally be limited to a writer’s effort to convey a special tone or sense of place. In this case, as in any interview with a person not speaking his or her native language, it is especially important that their ideas be accurately conveyed. Always, we should take utmost care not to mock the people we quote.

7. Audio

Audio actualities must always tell the truth. We do not alter except for correcting pauses or stumbles. “The Alternative” does permit the use of the subtle, standard audio processing methods of normalization of levels, general volume adjustments, equalization etc to make the sound clearer provided we don’t chop off information in the process.

8. Plagiarism and Fabrications  

This is our golden rule. We don’t copy the work of others. We do not plagiarize, meaning that we do not take the work of others and pass it off as our own. If we are referring to certain articles in our blogs, we will always provide links to the original, rather than copy-pasting that content onto the blog with a reference. In case the referred portions need to be interspersed with the blogger’s post in multiple places, we will clearly demarcate the referred excerpts and also credit the source underneath it. We do not transmit news releases in their original form; we try and rewrite them, so that the approach, content, structure and length meet our standards. We can use information and quotes from releases provided we clearly cite the source. A story that appears in our paper and has plagiarized work from a press release is a serious violation of our Code of Conduct. We will never create a fictional character or situation in our stories to embellish it, however boring the article may seem.

9. Graphics

We use only authoritative sources. We create work only from what we know. We can create charts/graphs to give a visual representation of data. The information in these must be clear and concise. We credit sources on every graphic, including graphics for which “The Alternative” journalists have created the data set or database.

10. Images

“The Alternative” pictures must always tell the truth. We do not alter or manipulate the content of a photograph in any way. Except for cropping or lightening effects, grayscale conversion, toning and color adjustments, we will use a photo as-is. We will not add/subtract anything from the photo. Blurring out faces or parts in photographs is not desired, we just do not use such photographs unless there is a strong need. Such photographs must be approved by the editor before publishing. It is the photographer’s responsibility to let the editor know how a photograph has been touched digitally. Editor will decide if that is allowed or not. For online video, “The Alternative” permits the use of subtle, standard methods of improving technical quality, such as adjusting video and audio levels, color correcting due to white balance or other technical faults, and equalization of audio to make the sound clearer. Videos can also have embedded text and graphics added to them to explain the same. All additions should also strictly adhere to our journalistic policies. Often times, we may make a composition of photographs, like a collage. In these cases, we can crop the photograph, and use desired portions that are relevant to the composition. Such compositions must be clearly identified, and should not look like original photographs.

11. Obscenities, profanities, vulgarities

We do not use obscenities, racial epithets or other offensive slurs in stories unless they are part of direct quotations and there is a compelling reason for them. If a story cannot be told without reference to them, we must first try to find a way to give the reader a sense of what was said without using the specific word or phrase. If a profanity, obscenity or vulgarity is used, the story must be flagged at the top by the reporter, advising editors to note the contents.

A photo containing something that could be deemed offensive must be approved by the Editor. We take great care not to refer readers to Web sites that are obscene, racist or otherwise offensive, and we must not directly link our stories to such sites. For photo galleries and interactive presentations we alert readers to the nature of the material in the link and on the opening page of the gallery or interactive. If an obscene image is necessary to tell the story, we blur the portion of the image considered offensive after approval of the department manager, and flag the video.

12. Responses

We must make significant efforts to reach anyone who may be portrayed, and especially if that portrayal is a negative one, in our stories, and we must give them a reasonable amount of time to get back to us before we move the story. What is “reasonable” may depend on the urgency and competitiveness of the story. Please make sure you consult your immediate editor when in doubt. If we don’t reach the parties involved, we must explain in the story what specific efforts were made to do so.

13. Corrections & Amplifications Policy

We will adhere to a zero-tolerance policy in terms of correcting our errors. We will clearly communicate to all our readers the best way to reach us so we can promptly correct our mistakes. If we are aware of a mistake, we will correct our stories irrespective of whether a correction is being sought so that databases don’t contain uncorrected stories. Not informing your editor of an error in your story, especially if it has been pointed out by anyone, is a serious violation of this code of conduct and could result in the relevant employee being subject to discipline up to and including termination.

B) EMPLOYMENT

“The Alternative” values the talents and contributions of its employees. The company also seeks and values diversity among employees, recognizing that a mix of people enriches the company and encourages creativity. “The Alternative”’ policy is to provide equal employment opportunities and advancement consideration to all individuals based on job-related qualifications and ability to perform the job, without regard to race, color, ancestry, national origin, religious creed, sex, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, age or marital status.

(Acknowledgement: The Mint code of conduct was used as a general reference and adapted while creating this code of conduct).

 


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