Code of Ethics

Introduction

At Business Malta, we have established our code of ethics in compliance with the Code of Journalistic Ethics compiled and duly updated by the Institute of Maltese Journalists (Istitut tal-Ġurnalisti Maltin). The editorial staff of Business Malta are committed to making each article, analysis piece and news coverage comply with the guidelines below. At the same time, our Code of Ethics is synchronised with the international code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), which organisation has been making efforts for improving and protecting journalism since 1909.

Our editorial staff are highly driven to stay fair and accurate in our reporting. We make efforts to remain honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. We always seek truth and say nothing else but the facts as we know them.

All our staff take responsibility for our work, and we can be held accountable to explain our editorial decisions to the public. At the same time, we are required to carry on with our tasks along the lines of utmost transparency. We support the open and civil exchange of views.

We are here to explain our ethical choices and processes to our audiences. We encourage civil dialogue with the public about our journalism, analyses, coverage and news content. We also acknowledge our duty to expose unethical conduct of journalism in general, as well as within our organisation.

We abide by the same high standards that we expect of others. We never make promises we know we cannot keep.

We embrace diversity and the magnitude of the human experience, and we always make efforts to help the voices heard of the ones that are seldom represented.

Sources

The confidentiality of our sources is sacred for our editorial staff. Parties quoted in articles appearing in Business Malta are always asked for permission prior to publication. Our sources are always clearly identified, as the public is entitled to receive as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of the sources.

The motives of sources are always considered before promising anonymity, which is only reserved for those who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Granting anonymity is always justified and explained to the public in our reporting.

We also place particular emphasis on gathering information from trustworthy and reliable sources, with the cleanest tools possible. During our reporting, no deceit, trickery, intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit is ever utilised to garner information. No hidden recording devices are used for gaining knowledge, either. Using false identities is equally off limits.

Any information used in our reporting is always adequately credited to the respective sources when it is relevant and appropriate. No copyrighted material is ever published in our publication without the permission of the copyright holder. Our editorial staff never plagiarises.

We know that some sources might be offering information for favours or money. Along these lines, our editorial staff never pays for access to news and data. Content provided by external sources to the editorial room is always identified, to see whether they are paid or not.

At the same time, our editorial staff makes enhanced efforts not to lift quotations out of context, as such practice can result in misleading reporting and inaccuracies. Should the background be unclear in any quote, the editor always does duly clarify the meaningfor the reader by adding comments.

Context

Appropriate context is always to be provided for our readers. We understand that our readers might not have the same depth of following news and information as we do. Therefore, context is always clearly explained, as well as earlier stories are linked so that the reader can research the topic further.

Any story is never misrepresented or oversimplified in promoting, previewing or summarising its main ideas. Facts are hard or a reason and are handled with gravity. They are never distorted or misrepresented, as well as they are never represented outside their context. At the same time, illustrations and re-enactments are always clearly labelled.

Accuracy and Corrections

Our editorial staff always do our best to verify information before publication. We take responsibility for our accuracy in our work and opt for using sources whenever possible.

We always remember that speed never is an excuse for inaccuracy. We also respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.

We do know that living a life without mistakes is impossible. We are always ready to acknowledge our mistakes and take due corrections with the highest promptness possible. We are prepared ro explain all our corrections and apply clear and careful clarifications.

Information is always gathered, updated and corrected throughout the life of a news story.

Neutrality

Business Malta never distorts facts or statements.

Our news and reporting are handled with neutrality, completely lacking the opinions and views of the reporter and editor. As much as we understand that all our staff have their own views, we never let our points of view affect our reporting.

We clearly label advocacy, commentary, opinions and sponsored content. We avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do. We also avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived and we disclose unavoidable conflicts.

We always avoid stereotyping. We know very well that our values and experiences could shape our reporting; therefore, we still make sure to report on hard facts, as they come. We never judge in our reporting. We know very well that no single story or situation is ever black and white. We can never walk in each other shoes, and we can never really feel into the position of somebody else. We have no right to judge.

Our journalists always show the highest levels of compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. In line with this, the highest levels of sensitivity are applied when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Each journalist, in addition, does consider cultural, economic and religious differences in approach and treatment.

Opinions

The editorial board, however, is entitled to publish opinion pieces. Articles that clearly express the views of individuals are always labelled. The editorial board is welcome to post opinion pieces different from our beliefs. Moreover, we believe in pluralism and encourage people from all walks of life to share their opinions with us in the form of letters to the editor.

Regardless of the opinions we hold, they never do interfere with our reporting at any times.

Advertorial Content

Advertising has been part of journalism forever. Journalism has also highly depended on adverts to a great extent. Along those lines, it is impossible to be running a publication without advertisers. However, our editorial content is never compromised by our advertisers. Advertisements appearing in our online newspaper are always clearly signalled for the reader so that they can identify sponsored content with ease.

As we value the trust of our readers the most, integrity is a vital part of our editorial Code of Ethics. Our editorial room always does deny favoured treatment of our advertisers, donors or any other particular interest. No external or internal pressure ever does influence our coverage. In line with this, no gifts, fees or special treatment is ever accepted by our editorial staff. We also refrain from political and other outside activities that may compromise our integrity and impartiality or may damage our credibility.

Editorial content is always distinguished from advertising. The line in-between is never blurred. Sponsored content is clearly and prominently labelled.

Respect for Private Life

Our editorial staff always treat sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect. At the same time, we have the highest and primary obligation to serve the public.

Our editorial staff work along the lines of high levels of empathy. Public figures and individuals holding business positions are always reported about their professional life, while their private and family lives are respected in our reporting unless they affect their professional lives.

Our editorial staff recognise that private people have more right to control information about their own selves as compared to public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. When broadcasting personal information, our editorial staff always weighs the consequences of the publication.

Libel

We are always vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Aside from informing the public, journalism always gives voice to the voiceless. However, the public’s need for information is always balanced against potential harm or discomfort. We take it very seriously that pursuit of news and catchy headlines never do grant a licence for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.

Should our sources make claims, their veracity and accuracy are always checked as far as possible prior to publication. Other parties mentioned in quotes by our sources are always contacted and asked to comment on the claims, respond to criticism or allegations. Libellous and scandalous claims are never published by Business Malta for the sole sake of causing hysteria, as it can hurt stakeholders unintentionally, and also risks the trust of our readers.

Reporting about individuals — either in the scope of their private or professional lives — or businesses with the sole intention of the so-called “character assassination” is strictly prohibited by any of our journalists. We know well that the power of the press is never to be abused in our editorial room for selfish purposes.

We recognise that we have a special obligation to serve the public as watchdogs over public affairs, government and business activities. Public records are named “public” for a reason; therefore the public’s business is always to be conducted in the open.

We have studied and understood the contents and legislation included in the Maltese Defamation Act 2017, and therefore know our rights and obligations related to our public duties.

Reporting about Crime and Court Procedures

In the case of reporting about accident and crimes, the dignity of victims and the next-of-kin, as well as involved individuals, is always respected to the highest standards. The publication of specific names connected with the events is avoided if they are potentially harmful to the victims and their relatives.

All reports of crimes and court proceedings are carried out in a strictly factual manner, lacking expression of opinion by the writer. In the case of reporting about judicial proceedings, we report about the whole progress from the beginning to the conclusion.

A suspect’s right to a fair trial is always balanced with the public’s right to know information about proceedings. The implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges, therefore, is always considered.

Minors

Minors are never, not under any circumstances, named in our reporting. At the same time, all our editorial staff is obliged to respect minors under the age of eighteen. No minor can be interviewed unless the preventive permission of one of their parents or guardians is obtained.

At the same time, carrying photos of minors that make them identifiable is also off the limits, respecting their privacy, unless they are group pictures where identification of individuals is less obvious.

Photo Policy

The staff of Business Malta handles photos with special care, as we recognise them as the intellectual property of the photographers and platforms where they come from.

Business Malta, therefore, always properly attributes the photos, follows the attribution norms for photos with Creative Commons licences, purchases photos from their respective owners and domains if necessary, and even credits photos that are free to use without attribution.

In its editorial coverage, Business Malta also refrains from using imagery that places an unnecessarily big emphasis on the logos and branding of companies. As such, photos with watermarks or post-edited logos are not published in the editorial coverage of Business Malta.

Link Policy

Business Malta chiefly uses internal links in its editorial coverage, linking to previous stories published on its platform. On their rare occasion of being used, external links in its editorial coverage lead to either the editorial coverage of other online publications, to event registration pages, to public announcements by authorities, organisations and official bodies, or to help NGOs in raising awareness.

External links for the branding or promotional purposes of companies and products do not happen in the editorial coverage of Business Malta. Nevertheless, such links can be included in advertorial content published on this online platform, which only happens in articles that clearly bear the “sponsored content” tag, offering full transparency to our readers.

last updated on 21 August 2019