1. All work submitted to the editors of the Mail and Guardian must be the reporter or photographers' original work. Any reporter or photographer found to have plagiarised another person's work will be liable to disciplinary action by the company.
2. No reporter should cover an event or issue in which he or she has personal, financial, family or any other kind of interest which may affect his or her attitude to the story. Where this arises, the conflict of interest should be immediately declared to the head of department or editor
and the story should be handed over to another reporter. In the case of an opinion or guest article, the author's interest in the matter must be clearly declared in the article or in a note at the end of it.
3 No reporter may accept a gift or loan from a professional contact. Any offering should immediately be returned with a polite explanation. This does not apply to tickets, books and CDs sent for purposes of a review, or to PR handouts of a value less than R200.
4. No reporter or photographer may accept free or reduced-cost travel without the approval of the editor. Where such an offer is acceptable, it should be noted in the article or in a note at the end of the article.
5. No staffer may solicit free or discounted food, drink, gifts or related freebies on the basis of his employment as a journalist.
6. No staffer may pay a source for information, nor offer any gifts or inducements to sources. However, if the life of a source is endangered because he or she is providing information, the newspaper may pay the costs of travel, accommodation and security. This is at the editor's discretion and no staffer may make such arrangements without the editor's approval.
7 Reporters and photographers must at all times identify themselves to informants as employees of the Mail and Guardian newspaper. Reporters and photographers should carry their press cards at all times and produce them on request. Staffers should never abuse their press cards by using them to gain admission to a function they are attending in their personal capacity.
8. It is the duty of reporters and photographers to know the law as it affects their work. All staffers should have read and should abide by the Press Council's code of conduct.
9. Reporters must be able to produce their notes or tape recordings on demand for a year after a story is published.
10. Reporters should avoid the obligation of reading back, faxing or e-mailing their articles to their sources after it is written. While there is not a problem checking facts or quotes with sources, a reporter should not accept a read-back as a prior condition to getting information from a source. When it is essential to do a read-back because the source will not co-operate on any other basis, it should be made clear that the only changes which will be considered will be errors of fact.
11. All possible effort should be made to avoid single source stories. Reporters should get corroboration of their information, unless the single source's point of view is the only relevant viewpoint.
12. Reporters should do all they can to get comment from all people and organisations relevant to their story. It is completely unacceptable for a reporter to make one phone call to a person and then to write that the person was unavailable for comment. The news editor or editor could ask reporters to prove that they had tried all means possible to elicit comment by asking for facts and notes which indicate that every possible attempt was made to find the person, or a suitable alternative.
13. Unnamed sources should be avoided unless there is absolutely no other way to handle the story and if the source is backed by others. No unnamed source should be used without the explicit agreement of the editor or head of department, who will require the reporter to identify the source, in the strictest confidence. In particular, intelligence sources are to be treated
with extreme caution ï¿½ it is their job to plant information in the paper which cannot be tracked back to them. If a reporter undertakes to protect the confidentiality of the source, it is expected that this is upheld, no matter what threats or inducements are offered to break the agreement.
14. Reporters are expected to uphold their undertakings of keeping information "off the record", although it is best to avoid making such arrangements. However, when such arrangements are made, reporters should specify what they mean by "off the record": is the material for background purposes only and not to be quoted; is it quotable with anonymity; can it be used to ask questions of others; can it be used to seek out another source to make it reportable?
15. No reporter or photographer should allow publication of material which can put informants at risk of losing their positions, injury or death. In particular, ordinary people are sometimes unaware of the possible consequences of talking to the media. In these cases, it is incumbent on
the reporter or photographer to establish informed consent by spelling out to the informants what the likely dangers are.
16. It is the responsibility of the reporter to ensure that everything is done to update a story before the newspaper goes to print. The reporter must offer any necessary updates to the editor or news editor who then makes the decision whether the pages of the paper should be changed or delayed.
17. Breaches of this Professional Code will render the employee liable for disciplinary action.
18. Breaches of this Code of Conduct will render the employee liable for disciplinary action, the procedure for which is reflected in the Company's Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.