The Junkee Media Editorial Code
As one of the primary outlets for young Australians to receive news, views, and entertainment, Junkee Media takes its responsibilities as a publisher seriously.
The purpose of this document is to set out how Junkee seeks to uphold its rights, values, and responsibilities, both to our readers and to ourselves. It is a guide for our readers, so that they know what we stand for and how we operate. Just as importantly, it serves as a guide for Junkee Media employees, management, advertisers and partners as a statement of our values, principles and responsibilities as a publisher.
Junkee Media’s audience is young, and compared to the legacy publishers we often compete with, so are we. We’re still growing and learning, which is why this is a living document that will be updated as we seek new ways to reach our audience, now and into the future.
THE PURPOSE OF JUNKEE MEDIA
The primary purpose of Junkee Media is to serve our audience. We are a publisher for the 21st century, reaching our audience not only on our owned websites, but across a range of social and video platforms, and the out of home network operated by Junkee’s parent company, oOh!media.
We seek to inform and entertain in equal parts. We aim to put information and events in context so that young Australians can understand the world around them. We seek to entertain and provide some respite for our readers from the world around them. We also seek to provide value to our partners, without whom we could not serve our audience.
In creating this document, we have consulted with Junkee Media employees and management, and have looked to other publishers we admire – including The Guardian, The Conversation & BuzzFeed News – for guidance, because we know enough to know that we don’t know everything.
Crucially, this document is a set of principles, not rules. It will act as a guide when we need to make difficult decisions, but each decision will be made by a team of individual writers, producers, editors and publishers, who will always seek to act in the best interests of Junkee Media and its audience.
Fact vs opinion
Junkee Media has strong opinions, which we will never shy away from. There are many issues which we firmly believe do not have “two sides”. We will always stand against racism, misogyny, homophobia and discrimination in any form. We will always promote equality for Indigenous Australians, refugees, migrants, women, and minority communities across the board. We believe in climate change, and will always advocate for stronger action to save the planet. This is a core part of Junkee Media’s identity, and it informs every editorial decision we make.
However, as Guardian Editor C.P. Scott said in 1921, “comment is free, but facts are sacred”.
Junkee will always seek to maintain a division between our news and opinion writing. When producing news, we will stick to the facts, and always strive to give our subjects a right of reply. When writing opinion, we will be strident, but fair. We will seek diverse views, we will check our facts and we will write in good faith. We will not baselessly slander people, and we will aim to hold the powerful to account.
Like every publisher, we will make mistakes. When we do, we will seek to correct those mistakes as quickly as possible. When a significant change is made to our copy, readers will be notified at the end of the article.
Corrections will lead with accurate information, and wherever possible will not repeat the mistake or inaccuracy. When new information comes to light that materially changes the nature of a story, we will update the story, and inform our readers of the update. We will always seek to avoid deleting an article in its entirety.
We are accountable to our readers, and all complaints and corrections can be made to [email protected]. We aim to respond to all valid emails for corrections within 48 hours.
Where it is right to do so, we will apologise for our mistakes.
Division between business and editorial
Junkee Media is an advertiser-funded business. Without our brand partners, we would not be able to bring our audience the editorial content we have produced for the last decade. It is the role of the entire business to strike the right balance between editorial freedom and commercial considerations.
Commercial considerations should never prevent a story from being published when it is in the clear public interest to do so.
Our editorial team is also one of our most valuable resources, and they understand our audience better than anyone. As such, our editorial team will occasionally provide ideas or words to a piece of brand-funded content.
Any content that has been funded by a brand will be clearly labelled on the article. Social media posts published with brands will also be clearly marked, as required by the platforms’ terms of service.
If Junkee stands to make a commercial gain from all or part of a piece of content, we will declare it to our readers.
Division Of Responsibility
Every piece of content on Junkee Media is a collaboration between writers, producers, editors, the Managing Editor, and the Editorial Director and each of those roles bears some responsibility for the final outcome of a piece of content.
Ultimate responsibility for all content published on Junkee Media rests with the Editorial Director.
Our Responsibilities To Freelance Writers
Junkee Media has a wide pool of freelancers, representing diverse perspectives from across Australia and the world. When commissioning freelance content, we will always seek to act in the best interests of our freelancers, and will never deliberately put them in harm’s way.
We will be upfront about the fees we offer freelancers, and we will always strive to pay our freelancers promptly.
Our Responsibilities Under The Law
It is the responsibility of Junkee Media and its staff to stay up-to-date with Australian media law and regulations, especially as it relates to defamation, contempt of court and copyright. As a business, Junkee regularly provides training and development to our staff in this area, because no one likes getting sued.
Reporting In The Public Interest
When determining whether to pursue or publish a story, Junkee will always seek to balance the public interest against the potential for that story to cause damage to the individuals or groups involved with the story.
Keeping Our Readers Safe
At times, we will need to report on serious issues that may affect our readers, such as suicide, domestic violence, mental health issues, or substance abuse. We take this responsibility seriously, and will always link to resources to help those affected, and will provide a content warning at the top of the article.
SOURCING AND ATTRIBUTION
Information from other media outlets
In the digital media age, all publishers will occasionally use information that has first been reported by other outlets, and Junkee is no different. In fact, we think our competitors do great work, and we’re more than happy to support them!
When we use information that was sourced elsewhere, we will always provide credit to the publication in writing and link back to the publication as soon as possible within the story. There’s no shame in crediting someone else’s good work. Re-producing someone else’s work without credit is plagiarism, and we don’t do plagiarism at Junkee. We expect other publishers to follow suit.
When publishing information that was first reported elsewhere, we will always try to verify that information ourselves.
Where possible, we will also try to add to the information. For example, by reaching out to the subject of a story ourselves, or by interviewing a subject expert. We will always try to avoid simply re-publishing a rival outlet’s story without adding to it.
Embedding, Terms of service & external platforms
We regularly embed content from social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. We will always follow the terms of service of the individual platforms, and will always try to find the original creator of a piece of content and give them appropriate credit.
If the subject or creator of a piece of content asks that we don’t embed their content for whatever reason, we will strongly consider removing that piece of content, while balancing the public interest and our rights under a platform’s terms of service.
Anonymous Sourcing, Pseudonyms, Source Protection
There are many good reasons to keep a source anonymous, but our default setting is to name all sources, and to avoid using reporting based on anonymous sourcing.
At times, we will provide anonymity to a source in order to protect them (for example, in reporting of workers who may have a genuine fear or retribution from their employer). If anonymity is granted, we should always explain to the reader why. These decisions are a matter for journalists, editors and the Managing Editor. Once the decision has been made to grant a source anonymity, we will protect that anonymity at all costs.
Where a quote is sourced, it should be sourced as clearly as possible, whether it’s a direct quote from an individual, an organisation or a press release.
Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, writers should be published under their full, legal names.
The use of generic group bylines (ie. “Junkee”) should be avoided.
Junkee will always seek to abide by copyright laws, and will avoid using content without obtaining permission. Where possible, we will seek to find the original creator of a piece of content, and will always strive to adequately credit the original creator of a piece of content.
As an organisation, Junkee will seek to educate its writers, producers and editors so that they have the skills and knowledge to ensure we are abiding by the letter and the spirit of copyright law.
LEGAL & ETHICS
In general, reporting on courtroom proceedings should be avoided unless the reporter was in the courtroom themselves. Where that isn’t possible, Junkee will always seek to independently confirm information, and will rely on multiple respected news organisations to guide its coverage, while always providing adequate credit to those organisations.
Comment moderation and respectful debate
Junkee has strong opinions on a number of issues, and we respect the fact that our audience does as well. We will always seek to promote respectful debate on our platforms and social media channels, while acknowledging that we cannot possibly control every element of the conversation surrounding our content, or the issues we cover.
We will not tolerate hatred or bigotry of any kind, and we reserve the right to delete or refuse to publish any comment on any of our platforms for any reason.
Comment or copy approval, promotion of artists etc
In general, we do not provide the opportunity for copy or comment approval to the subjects of our stories, and we will not share the drafts of our stories before they are published. We will sometimes seek to clarify a comment or quote, and where necessary will put the broad outlines of a story to the subject of that story in order to ensure that what we are publishing is fair and accurate.
There are some exceptions to the above rules, such as when a story deals with a potentially vulnerable person, or a sensitive issue. These exceptions should be discussed between writers and editors, and editors will have the final say on whether a source will be given copy or comment approval.
Allegations and right of reply
We will always seek to give the subject of a story or comment a right of reply. Where we have not received a reply, we will declare it in our copy. Where we have not been able to give the subject of a story a chance to reply (for example, during a live breaking news event), we will make that clear, and will update the story if/when that person provides a comment.
Graphic and/or adult content
We are a youth publisher and we speak the language of the internet. We accept that our audience has a more liberal attitude towards profanity, sex, drugs and nudity than some of our more traditional media peers, and that is reflected in our content. What we choose to publish is a judgement call made depending on the circumstances of each individual case.
However, we will seek to avoid publishing slurs, graphic images or descriptions of violence and discrimination. Where we feel that such descriptions are necessary for the complete telling of a story, we will give our audience plenty of warning so they can make their own choices about what they read or watch.
Interviews, consent, direct quotes
Junkee writers should always get clear consent from an interview subject before recording them.
It is never acceptable to change a quote in such a way that it alters a quote’s meaning. It is sometimes acceptable to lightly alter a quote for clarity, but it should be made clear when this has happened (Eg, by using square brackets).
Platforms for extremists
Choosing not to publish something is often as valuable and important as choosing to publish it. At Junkee, we will avoid publishing the thoughts, quotes or comments of well known extremists. There are many, many issues to which there are not “two sides”. We won’t give a platform to racism, misogyny or discrimination. Where we deem it necessary to publish someone with terrible views, we should make immediately clear that we disagree with those views, and where possible, we should refute them with facts. The decision to publish something or not should come after discussion between writers and editors.
We will not give a platform for people who inflict mass violence, such as mass shooters. These are hugely important stories, and they should be told in the right way. That means focusing on acts of heroism, and highlighting the stories of victims. It does not ever mean giving the people who inflict mass violence a name or a platform. For example, it is better to describe a mass shooter as simply a “25-year-old Sydney man”, than to use that man’s name or repeat his message in any way.
Junkets, conflicts of interest and freebies
Like all media organisations, we will occasionally be sent products for review, or will work with brands on junkets. Being sent or accepting a product or service does not guarantee that the product will receive favourable coverage, or any coverage at all. Junkee writers should not give any guarantees about the nature of coverage they will give in exchange for access to a product or service.
As a general rule, the Junkee team prefers to be sent delicious food stuffs, and scented candles.
For larger collaborations such as junkets, it is acceptable to reach broad agreement on the scope of work to be produced (ie, the number of stories, and general ideas about potential angles). But decisions about the final product remain at the sole discretion of Junkee’s writers and editors.
Staff should not use their positions at Junkee to obtain free goods or services, unless they genuinely expect to use those goods or services for the purposes of criticism and review. Where Junkee has received a good or service from a brand, it should be noted in any subsequent content.
Where possible, conflicts of interest for the business or any individual Junkee employee should be avoided. Where it cannot be avoided, the conflict of interest should be noted within the copy.