Editorial Integrity: Public media organizations been funded by some multi-national entrepreneurs tend to have some effects on the creation of contents and the rendering of their services. This is because funders come with their own ideas and agendas which are often targeted at maximizing profit.
As a media or editorial personnel, you may be wondering what policies are needed to ensure that while funding is provided it is not influencing the genuineness of contents or rendering of services in accordance to the ethics of journalism.
Integrity in editing and writing in the media world over the years remains a serious concern. What is editorial integrity one may ask; and how does one go about achieving it is the focus here.
What is Editorial Integrity?
Editorial integrity basically in the field of writing, editing and publishing deals with the ethics and norms guiding the profession of writers, reporters, editors and journalism as a whole. Editorial integrity has long been a concern in public media and journalism.
It also means not to sell your services for financial reward other than the salary you receive from your employer; not to take money from a person, group or organization in return for ensuring their story is covered by your news organization.
Also, editorial integrity refers to the act of not promoting a story based on any personal, group, or partisan interests; not endorsing or appear to endorse any organization, its products, activities or services; and not promoting commercial products or services.
The Importance of Editorial Integrity
Below are some of the reasons you should have editorial integrity;
It is a Key to Credibility
Editorial integrity is central to all a journalist does. Clearly, marketing in the digital age is difficult to execute with tact. Digital marketers must dance a fine line between selling and educating.
Traditional marketing content aims to sell, but marketing departments need to adopt a more journalistic approach to better serve the current customer’s behavior.
Without integrity your journalism is untrustworthy and suspect. Integrity gives a journalist the authority to investigate issues, shine a light in dark places and to dig where others do not. It is essential for informing the public debate with trustworthy.
It Curbs Mistrust in Marketing a Content
Now that people all over the globe have access to more information than ever before, lack of integrity can destroy a company’s credibility, break the consumer’s fragile trust, and have a huge impact on a business’s success.
Since consumers are researching, making more educated decisions, reading reviews, and seeing through the marketer’s underhanded activities, it is necessary to have, build and sustain integrity in your editorial job.
The digital era has transformed how marketing materials are created and distributed and the ways that marketers and customers are engaging with one another.
It makes your Work and Services Stand out
Another importance is that it makes you and the services you render stand out. In other words, it makes you unique.
How to Build Editorial Integrity
The following are some of the ways you can build editorial integrity;
Keep It Organic
Always stay true to the organic opinion column format that the discipline was birthed from. Though millions of journalists, bloggers, and other media personnel are throwing in their voices and those of their funders, you have to keep it organic.
You have to be transparent. Transparency is in two-fold. First, there is the obvious issue of not being dishonest, but there is also the need to be cautious to not even give the impression of dishonesty.
Do not Manipulate or Be Manipulated
When you are planning what topics to address in your content, check yourself to make sure your intentions to include it are for your own independent reasons. Be cautious that you do not spin the facts for the benefit of partisan parties, funding parties, or commercial companies.
Your audience will trust you more if you retain control of all your published content and do not give the impression that you are manipulating the truth for someone else’s advantage. Also, do not manipulate the reader for financial or any other kind of gain.
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Reasons for Editorial Integrity
To Build Trust
Trust is the most important asset and the most fragile element to the future of your business as a editorial personnel. If you are getting attention from an audience, it is only a matter of time before the marketers will show up with their agendas.
Trust takes years of laboring to establish and an instant to break. If you can remain honest with your readers and not let the motives of our financiers alter what you communicate to your audiences, you will protect your credibility, and earn trust with your customers.
To Function Effectively as a Journalist
Without integrity your journalism is a suspect. It is essential if a journalist wants to investigate issues, shine a light in dark places, and to dig where others do not. Without integrity it would be hard for a journalist to inform the public debate properly with trustworthy, rigorous journalism.
How to Avoid Damaging your Editorial Integrity
Avoid Product Placement in Return for Cash
A journalist must never include a product or service in sound, vision or print in return for cash, services or any consideration in kind. Always ensure that references to trade names, brand names, and slogans are clearly editorially justified.
Avoid Receiving Unnecessary Free Material and Gifts from Clients
It is extremely dangerous for a journalist to take gifts. There will always be a price to pay at some future date. The best advice is to say no. A journalist should always pay for their own travel and accommodation costs.
Be Mindful of Undue Prominence
Be careful where a guest on a program has a particular product to push, such as a book, a new piece of music, a show or a film. It is fine to discuss the editorial issues, but you need to ensure that they are not taking advantage of you and the position you have offered them.
Take note of online links
When creating links to articles online, make sure that you link only to material that adds value and is not simply promoting a product. Please never include a link to a commercial site in return for cash, services or any other consideration in kind.
Handle Conflict of Interest
There must never be any suggestion that personal, commercial, business, financial or other interests have influenced your news organization’s editorial decisions. If this occurs, then, presenters, reporters, producers, editors, researchers and managers will all be affected.
Always know that the higher someone’s level of editorial responsibility, the greater the need to avoid any possible conflicts of interest.
Some typical conflicts of interest for journalists include; writing for another news organization, public speaking/public appearances, delivering media public relations training, connections to charities and campaigning organizations and taking part in political activities.
Avoid Social Action, Charity and be Impartial
Journalists should not be seen to campaign about social issues, your job is to report about them, not be part of them. Journalists are free to have their own opinions, but these must not influence your journalistic work.
You must remain impartial. Please always consult modules on fairness and impartiality and objectivity in journalism. This is particularly important where; social action programmes or campaigns coincide with a government campaign or lobbying initiative.
The same is true with charities, because some are competing. As a journalist, you will probably have your favorites. This must never influence your story choice or story treatment. It is healthy to declare charitable interests at the earliest opportunity.
In a Nutshell
From the above, it is deducible that editorial integrity seems to be lacking in today’s media world because of the activities of entrepreneurs and investors.
That notwithstanding, as a journalist who aims at building a good reputation for yourself in the world of journalism, you must endeavor to build and keep your integrity intact no matter what.