As an organisation that has produced television programs and other content for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation over many years, The Checkout has been generally been required to produced broadcast content in accordance with the ABC Editorial policies.
The Checkout believes that the ABC Editorial Policies set out robust editorial standards and principles for creating conduct.
So, while the ABC Editorial Policies do not apply to The Checkout for non-ABC by their own force, The Checkout adopts the substance of the ABC Editorial Policies as set out below for the purpose of editorial self-regulation on the The Checkout project.
Independence, integrity and responsibility
The trust and respect of the community depend on editorial independence and integrity. Independence and responsibility are inseparable. The Managing Director is the Editor-in-Chief who has ultimate editorial power and responsibility.
Maintain the independence and integrity of the organisation.
Exercise editorial control over the content The Checkout broadcasts or publishes.
Ensure that editorial decisions are not improperly influenced by political, sectional, commercial or personal interests.
External activities of individuals undertaking work for The Checkout must not undermine the independence and integrity of the Fair Cop’s editorial content.
Exercise editorial independence as authorised and accept responsibility for it. When in doubt about an editorial matter, refer it up to the next most senior person for advice or decision.
When any editorial matter, including an editorial matter not being referred up for advice or decision, is likely to cause controversy or have an extraordinary impact, give proper notice of it to the most appropriate senior manager.
Credibility depends heavily on factual accuracy.
The Checkout requires that reasonable efforts must be made to ensure accuracy in all fact-based content. It gauges those efforts by reference to:
the type, subject and nature of the content;
the likely audience expectations of the content;
the likely impact of reliance by the audience on the accuracy of the content; and
the circumstances in which the content was made and presented.
The accuracy standard applies to assertions of fact, not to expressions of opinion. An opinion, being a value judgement or conclusion, cannot be found to be accurate or inaccurate in the way facts can. The accuracy standard requires that opinions be conveyed accurately, in the sense that quotes should be accurate and any editing should not distort the meaning of the opinion expressed.
The efforts reasonably required to ensure accuracy will depend on the circumstances. Sources with relevant expertise may be relied on more heavily than those without. Eyewitness testimony usually carries more weight than second-hand accounts. The passage of time or the inaccessibility of locations or sources can affect the standard of verification reasonably required.
Reasonable efforts, appropriate in the context, should be made to signal to audiences gradations in accuracy, for example by querying interviewees, qualifying bald assertions, supplementing the partly right and correcting the plainly wrong.
Make reasonable efforts to ensure that material facts are accurate and presented in context.
Do not present factual content in a way that will materially mislead the audience. In some cases, this may require appropriate labels or other explanatory information.
Corrections and clarifications
A commitment to accuracy includes a willingness to correct errors and clarify ambiguous or otherwise misleading information. Swift correction can reduce harmful reliance on inaccurate information, especially given content can be quickly, widely and permanently disseminated. Corrections and clarifications can contribute to achieving fairness and impartiality.
Acknowledge and correct or clarify, in an appropriate manner as soon as reasonably practicable:
significant material errors that are readily apparent or have been demonstrated; or
information that is likely to significantly and materially mislead.
Impartiality and diversity of perspectives
[intentionally deleted given the nature of a consumer advocacy project]
Fair and honest dealing
Fair and honest dealing is essential to maintaining trust with audiences and with those who participate in or are otherwise directly affected by The Checkout content. In rare circumstances, deception or a breach of an undertaking may be justified. Because of the potential damage to trust, deception or breach of an undertaking must be explained openly afterwards unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.
Dealing with participants
Participants in The Checkout content should normally be informed of the general nature of their participation.
A refusal to participate will not be overridden without good cause.
Opportunity to respond
Where allegations are made about a person or organisation, make reasonable efforts in the circumstances to provide a fair opportunity to respond.
Attribution and sources
Aim to attribute information to its source.
Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motive and any alternative attributable sources.
Do not misrepresent another’s work as your own (see acknowledgement of ABC Editorial Policies above!).
Assurances given in relation to conditions of participation, use of content, confidentiality or anonymity must be honoured except in rare cases where justified in the public interest.
Secret recording and other types of deception
Secret recording devices, misrepresentation or other types of deception must not be used to obtain or seek information, audio, pictures or an agreement to participate except where:
justified in the public interest and the material cannot reasonably be obtained by any other means; or
consent is obtained from the subject or identities are effectively obscured; or
the deception is integral to an artistic work and the potential for harm is taken into consideration.
Privacy is necessary to human dignity and every person reasonably expects that their privacy will be respected. But privacy is not absolute. The Checkout seeks to balance the public interest in respect for privacy with the public interest in disclosure of information and freedom of expression.
Intrusion into a person’s private life without consent must be justified in the public interest and the extent of the intrusion must be limited to what is proportionate in the circumstances.
Harm and offence
The Checkout potentially reaches the whole community, so it must take into account community standards.
Applying the harm and offence standard requires careful judgement. Context is an important consideration. What may be inappropriate and unacceptable in one context may be appropriate and acceptable in another. Coarse language, disturbing images or unconventional situations may form a legitimate part of reportage, debate, documentaries or a humorous, satirical, dramatic or other artistic work. Consideration of the nature of the target audience for particular content is part of assessing harm and offence in context, as is any signposting that equips audiences to make informed choices about what they see, hear or read.
Content that is likely to cause harm or offence must be justified by the editorial context.
Where content is likely to cause harm or offence, having regard to the context, make reasonable efforts to provide information about the nature of the content through the use of classification labels or other warnings or advice.
If inadvertent or unexpected actions, audio or images in live content are likely to cause harm or offence, take appropriate steps to mitigate.
The reporting or depiction of violence, tragedy or trauma must be handled with extreme sensitivity. Avoid causing undue distress to victims, witnesses or bereaved relatives. Be sensitive to significant cultural practices when depicting or reporting on recently deceased persons.
Where there is editorial justification for content which may lead to dangerous imitation or exacerbate serious threats to individual or public health, safety or welfare, take appropriate steps to mitigate those risks, particularly by taking care with how content is expressed or presented.
Avoid the unjustified use of stereotypes or discriminatory content that could reasonably be interpreted as condoning or encouraging prejudice.
Children and young people
Take due care over the dignity and physical and emotional welfare of children and young people who are involved in making, participating in and presenting content.
Before significant participation of a child or young person in content, consider whether it is appropriate to obtain the consent of both the child/young person and the parent/guardian.
Adopt appropriate measures wherever practicable to enable children and young people, or those who supervise them, to manage risks associated with the child/ young person’s participation.
Take particular care to minimise risks of exposure to unsuitable content or inappropriate contact by peers or strangers.
Advertising and sponsorship restrictions
Do not accept advertising or sponsorship in relation to The Checkout content or services.
[x.8] Do not enter into any advertising or sponsorship arrangement if it would be likely to undermine Fair Cop’s independence and integrity or could be reasonably perceived to do so.
The Checkout needs to be able to reflect the world as it is, and this involves referring appropriately to commercial organisations, products and services, while maintaining editorial independence and integrity.
References to trade names, brand names, and logos may be made provided that:
the references are editorially relevant in the context; and
editorial independence or integrity is not undermined.
Commercial references must not be unduly frequent or unduly prominent.
Take particular care to minimise commercial references in content designed for children.
[intentionally deleted – editorially justified positive statements about products are permitted subject to the The Checkout editorial policies generally]
External funding and relationships
External funding sources for The Checkout content must be scrutinised to ensure editorial independence and integrity are maintained. Contentiousness alone is not a reason to reject a proposal.
In these Standards, “external partners” includes funders, producers, publishers and distributors.
Before The Checkout enters into an arrangement for external funding or co-production of content, the arrangement must be scrutinised by an appropriately senior person designated for the purpose who must reject the arrangement unless satisfied that the independence and integrity of The Checkout is fully protected. Factors to consider include:
the nature of the external partners’ interest in the subject matter of the content and in broadcast or publication of the content The Checkout, and how that interest – whether it be political, commercial, sectional, personal or otherwise – is likely to be perceived;
the extent to which the making, promotion or scheduling of the content will be influenced by any funder and how that influence is likely to be perceived;
the reputations of the external partners, including where relevant whether they have editorial standards similar to Fair Cop’s
the willingness of external partners to contract to comply with the The Checkout Editorial Policies;
the degree to which the subject matter or proposed treatment of the subject matter or scheduling of the content is likely to be contentious, and ways to manage that contentiousness.
A record of the reasons for acceptance or rejection of external funding proposals must be kept.
13.3 The sources of funds obtained by external partners must be disclosed to The Checkout before an external funding or co-production arrangement is formalised.
Free or discounted products, services or facilities may be accepted to support the creation of content provided that:
there is no obligation imposed on or accepted by The Checkout to structure or present any matter with a particular editorial perspective;
prior approval is obtained from an appropriately senior person designated for the purpose;
the independence and integrity of The Checkout is fully protected; and
accurate records are kept of what is accepted.
Any credits acknowledging creative, managerial and financial contributions must be editorially justified and not unduly prominent.
Ensure appropriate disclosure of any external funding arrangement, and any acceptance of free or discounted products, services or facilities, where the arrangement or acceptance, if it were not disclosed but later became public, may reasonably be perceived to distort the editorial content or otherwise undermine The Checkout’s independence or integrity.