GUIDELINES
Journalistic products are accompanied by mistakes and incorrect details, which in some cases are the result of time constrains, inattentiveness, lack of professionalism, lack of experience or other factors. Responsible media, for which the trust of the audience and reputation is important, tries to promptly correct the mistake and work to share true information.

In case of incorrect information being published, the editorial group has a challenge to share the corrected information with the same audience who got the incorrect information in the first place. The correction can take different forms, according to the way the information was shared, the scale of the audience and the length that it was available.

1. Main Principles
  • Journalists and editors have to take responsibility for their mistakes and correct them.
  • Audience has to understand what was corrected and what was false and is true.
  • If the events are ongoing and new details will be revealed, it is necessary to say that the information is renewed.
  • The responsibility for the mistake has to be shared between the journalist and editorial group and if possible, the reason should be explained.
  • The correction has to be made in the reasonable time. The time is dependent upon the type of the media and scale of the audience, therefore is individual, according to the context.
  • Editorial group needs to be attentive to the comments made on different platforms by the audience, which shows the mistake.
  • According to the practices of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics, the message about the mistake can be made in any form to the journalist or the editorial group. It will be considered a violation of the correction rule if it becomes known that they knew after publishing the information that it was not true but did not correct it.
  • The editorial group has to decide how to react, when to correct/not correct the material, who has to make a decision, etc. after acknowledging that there was a mistake made. It is preferential that organizations have their own guidelines of this procedure.
  • It is better if the company’s official web-page has special part where audience can send the information about mistakes.

2. Online Media

2.1. Correction

  • The published information should be corrected in a way that notifies the audience of the correction. Where it is possible and does not damage anybody, it should be noted what was incorrect in the first place.
  • When changing the headline, the media should check that it is corrected on every platform where it was shared. Pay attention to the URL of the link, which in many cases is similar to the headline and correct it too.
  • In case of correcting the photo, make sure that it is not searchable on any platform of the media.
  • Use Facebook tools to correct the link, for the incorrect link not to be shareable anymore.

You can also renew the shared material on Facebook without deleting it. 



2.2. Deletion

  • Fully deleting the material is the last resort. It can be done when there is no public interest present and it violates somebody’s rights or ethical standards.
  • Material can be deleted instead of correcting it when you are the only open source of the information. If others also shared the information, it is better to correct it.
  • It is preferable for the media to explain the reason of such decision.
  • If in the following days new details are revealed which change the previously shared information, it is better to create a new material and make a link in the previous one about the newer version having been published. (სურათი)

3. Broadcasting Media

  • The broadcaster has to openly and immediately state that a mistake was made and correct it in an equal form. For example, if the mistake was made in prime time in the main news show, it has to be corrected in the same show next day. The equal form of correction depends on the case relevancy and in some cases it might be better to correct the mistake in the next news show.
  • Official web-page can be used to correct the information promptly.
  • In case of internet broadcasted video, it has to be re-uploaded with the correction on the official webpage and corrected on every platform according to the rules stated in the guidelines for online media.
  • According to the code of broadcasters, a person, who was the target of incorrect information, can address the media in 10 days after the broadcasting and request for the mistake to be corrected in equal form or for the information to be denied in the same length and approximately the same manner of the incorrect statement.
4. Printed Media

  • In case of press the equal form and measure are also important. If the incorrect information was printed on the first page of the newspaper, it is preferable for the correction to also be printed on the first page of the next issue. It has to be made clear that information in the previous issue was incorrect.
  • The standard of correction for printed media is the same as the online media.
  • If the mistake is grave, the editorial group can neglect to wait for the next issue and correct the mistake on their official webpage or social network pages.
Privacy of every person is protected. Therefore, Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics principle 10 distinguishes this – “Journalists must pay respect to privacy, and not intrude into the private lives of people unless there is special public interest” The right to have personal life gives everyone, including public figures, the ability to protect their personal life from others’ unwanted attention, not to publicize the details related to their health, personal relationships, etc. Privacy is a wide concept and does not have a precise definition.

Maintaining balance between releasing personal details in case of public interest and protecting privacy is a challenge and responsibility of media.

1. Public interest

Violation of privacy by a journalist is approved only in case of public interest existing in the topic, when the released material can bring more good to the society than bring the damage to one person. This is the difference between public interest and public curiosity. Public interest exists about the topics including:
  • Systemic crime of the government
  • Improper expenditure of public money
  • Crime committed by officials
  • Public healthcare
  • Environment
  • National security
  • Uncovering important crime, etc.
This list can never be complete and is dependent upon the case. The higher the value of the information for the public, the lower importance is given to privacy issues and vice versa. Journalist has to think about the public interest aim – is it aimed at the problem which will be uncovered by releasing the information or is it aimed at the life of a person depicted in the information. Violating privacy can be approved in the first case only. The more intimate is the information, the stronger the argument of the journalist needs to be. When violating the privacy there can be two arguments:

  1. A person agreed to make the information public;
  2. The reason why the personal information was made public is detailed.

1.1. Agreement

  • Reporting about personal details is agreeable when the person gave his permission to do so. Be sure, that the respondent is aware of what he is agreeing on. If there are several people in the material, get the permission from all of them. In other case, specify which ones did not give you an agreement;
  • People in public space should not have an expectancy that their life will be as protected as in their own home or in their property, but in public spaces there are cases when the privacy can be protected. For example, if a person had health problems in public space;
  • When talking about antisocial behavior, illness or any other negative context material, you cannot use close-up, accidental photos of a person taken in public space. The responsibility is higher in places such as hospitals, schools, prisons, emergencies… in this case you need double agreement – one from the institution and the second from the respondent, other persons in the place. Agreement is not necessary if you don’t identify the people.
  • Video recording can be made without agreement in semi-public places, but the owner can ask you to stop the recording. Semi-public places are for example shopping centers, airports, places which belong to a private person, but are open for the society. Minors younger than 16 have higher privacy protection. Information about them needs to be approved by their guardian. Children who became interest figures by their actions, for example are singers, sportsmen, winners in a competition, are also protected. You cannot take an interview with them in public space without their guardian’s permission. For more information see the guidelines about reporting on children’s issues.
  • A journalist needs to be careful using the information depicting personal life which was published on social media. In this case, it’s better to get the agreement from the one who posted it; for more, see the guidelines on using social media

1.2. Argumentation

If there is no agreement from the person, think about these: 
  • What and who are you uncovering with this material?
  • How will this information support the discussion important to society?
  • Can you show the problem fully without these details? What additional information does the material give?
  • What damage will a person take by publication of his personal information?
  • Is the public interest satisfaction worth the damage done to the person?
  • What alternate ways are there to report the issue?
You must consider whether the publication of personal information will make a person stigmatized, ostracizes, discriminated against. Think about what will the consequences of publication be, for example danger of physical revenge, etc. Give the audience arguments with proof on why you decided to publicize private information.

2. Secret video/audio recording

Secret recording is: 

  • Recording with hidden recorder, camera;
  • Recording with any equipment (camera, mobile phone, etc.) when the person is not aware of this;
  • Recording phone calls with the aim of publishing it without respondent’s agreement;
  • Starting or continuing recording when the respondent thinks that it has not begun yet or it is already finished.
  • Hidden recording with the aim of getting information is possible, but must be published only when the media proves that here was no open way of getting this information and they had to show it;
  • Entering private property and hidden recording can be used in high public interest situations and this must be proven;
  • Hidden recordings for entertainment and comedic shows can be released when the participants are informed; be careful when using other people’s recording, recordings of observation cameras, operative materials.

3. Public and private figures

  • Public figure for media has a wider definition and includes everyone who has a function for public life in any field, for example politics, economy, culture, sports… public figures, especially politicians, high level officials (government workers), should have lower expectancy of privacy. But to some degree they also have the right to protect their personal life from other people. For example, their relationships, their health is private, if it does not attract public interest, which can be in case of improper use of public money for private relationships and treatment, etc.
  • Interest in public figures’ life does not automatically mean that their family members, especially minors, have to be reported on as much. Their personal lives are more protected than that of their parents’.

4. Sensitive issues of private life

There are issues which can be more sensitive, as there is higher risk of improper violation of privacy. These issues include topics such as health, sexual life, adoption, surrogacy.

4.1. Health

  • Information about health and sexual life has higher protection than others. Reporting these is always a privacy violation. Therefore, there needs to be especially high public interest and the reporter should get through either of two steps – person’s agreement or argumentation;
  • The health topic reporting can also damage other people, because it creates distrust and they might abstain from getting treatment.

4.2. Accidents, crime

  • It is vital to maintain balance between public interest and reporting on details about people who were in accidents. Showing close-ups of people who are injured, suffering, and in shock is approved when this shows the scale of happened tragedy, is needed for showing context and fully covering the issue. While working live, the media has to try not to focus on suffering of specific people.
  • Media has to think about whether the repeated showing of horrific image will cause re-traumatization. Try to minimize re-traumatization of close people to the deceased and survivors. It is necessary to get the permission to record funerals of private figures.
  • Media needs to refrain from releasing the information from the private life of victims, accused and other people involved in the case, that does not relate to the case;
  • Journalists can stay near the home of accused as long as they wish, in the public place, for example the road, and not at the front door, whether the accused is a public figure or not; For more, see the “Guideline of reporting on crime”
  • It is not advisable to show photo/video materials which depict difficult emotional state of people in the courtroom.
PDF Version Social media has become an integral part of the contemporary journalism, both in terms of finding and dissemination of information. The following recommendations are based on the editorial documents of international media, press council codes,
REPORTING ON TERRORISM

Guideline

A terror act is an action that aims to spread terror, fear and chaos in the population. Its spread often depends on the messages and images that the media uses while covering it. Terrorism needs publicity to spread its ideology within the society. Media is one of the best means for achieving this goal. That is why they try to get into the daily agenda to spread their messages with the frame that suits them. Terrorist groups not only know how to operate necessary equipment, video cameras, sound equipment and internet, but also have vast knowledge of the media effect and techniques that they can use to attract the attention of the media. Tragedy and shocking news sell well in media, which is why there’s always the temptation to spread terrorist messages. In such cases the media is an accomplice to sharing terrorist ideas. Using media as an instrument is not the only tactic the terrorists use. Quite often the journalists themselves are the targets, they become victims, used as negotiation tools. Following rules will help the media with covering subjects affiliated with terrorism, choosing correct angles or terms.

General Principles:

  • The population has the right to receive information on terrorism and possible threats, although the media has the responsibility not to become an affiliate to spreading terrorist messages and appeals.
  • Terrorist acts and any related news should be covered accurately and fully, using related terminology and with great care.
  • Affiliating a negative action to the ethnic background or religious belief of individuals participating in it is irrelevant. Such information will only further the negative stereotypes and assist the stigmatization. Instead show the full picture and underline the fact that the religious or ethnic backgrounds have no relation to terrorism. Show expert and analyst evaluations, statistics and other related information, that will help to see the problem fully.
  • When covering terrorism related news, it’s important to maintain balance to not cause panic in the population by over-inflating the news, but so that the population still receives full information at the same time.
  • In case if the situation is escalating and there’s a chance of discrimination against any specific group, the media has to start a discussion on discrimination and the risks related to it. It’s recommended to show the examples of cooperation between opposite sides.
  • A neutral tone should be used when covering news. Avoid separating the population into “us” and “them” groups.
  • Members of a terroristic organization should not be covered as heroes. Do not attribute them features that would show them as “brave warriors”, as that may cause positive outlooks on their actions, especially in youth groups. Terrorism should be covered as a criminal act, in relation to legislation and law enforcement.
  • Big part of the coverage should not involve the leaders of terrorist organizations, their ways of life, goals and actions. This may cause a positive outlook on them.
  • Do not describe a terrorist act (suicide) in details, it should not turn into an instruction.
  • Do not cover anti-terrorist or self-defense action in detail, as that may cause a change of plans in radical groups and operation failures.
  • The population should receive information on the sources of received information. They should understand what the journalist’s information is based on.
  • Personal lives and other human rights must be kept at all times.
  • In case of spreading incorrect information, the audience must be notified of it and a correction must be issued immediately.
  • When covering subjects related to terrorism on web-pages, it is recommended to use comment moderation or turning the comment function off completely in order to avoid the intensification of radicalism.

Terminology

  • When covering terrorist acts, it is important to employ a journalistic language that is free of judgement. It is better to describe the facts in a dry manner; the media should not use overly emotional words and evaluations. It is important for the term “terrorist” to be used accordingly and not become a label, which may damage the reputation of the media source.
  • It is better if the media uses more precise words to describe the event instead of “terrorist act”, for example “explosion”, “bombing”, “shooting”, “opened fire”, “gunman”, “kidnapper”, “assailant”, etc.
  • Journalists should make the process of perceiving information as easy as possible, thus they should not use language/terminology of other people to convey information.
  • Journalists should not substitute the word “terrorist” when it is mentioned in the quote of the respondent, it must be visible that the source is the one using the word. Journalists themselves should generally avoid using that word, not because the journalist is impartial or sympathizes with terrorism, but because it is a complex subject, with important political subtexts. When covering events like these, both sides expect that the media will be objective. The word “Terrorist”, “Terrorist organization” makes the impartiality of the media questionable.
  • Often, during explosions or other tragic events, it is very clear that it may be a terror act, but the media still should avoid the usage of that term, in order to let the audience evaluate the event for themselves. It is important for the journalist to ask themselves if using the word “terrorist” is objective, do we know for a fact that we’re dealing with terrorist? Or is it only our doubts… are we maybe making a political stance when using that word?

Visualization
  • Visual materials with terrorist contents is often attractive to the media, as violence implies emotions, tragedy and attracts more attention. Which is why it’s important for the media to have information on the event depicted in the materials.
  • The Media should treat the effects of spreading terrorist video materials with high respect. Respect means to: o Not spread terrorist calls to action and aims; o Not violate the privacy of people, thus causing them more grief, especially to victims and their relatives.
  • Video materials should be edited in order to avoid the manipulation of population’s opinions.
  • The media should think through the political and ethical subtexts, that may be involved with airing such video materials. By constantly airing materials that contain violent visuals, eventually it will cause the normalization of such events in the population.
  • It is absolutely unacceptable to publish photo/video materials filmed at different time without specifying it, in order to intensify current events.
  • The media should treat materials submitted by readers or found on social media with utmost care. The origins of such materials should be checked carefully in order to avoid misinformation.
Balance

When covering topics relevant to terrorism, the media should be able to maintain a balance between:

  • Freedom of speech and giving a platform to terrorism;
  • Spreading graphic video materials and relative context;
  • Own opinions and impartiality;
  • Market demands and professional responsibility;
  • Societal pressure, that calls for action and justice, that dictates to limit actions, in order to report the whole event;
  • Showing the pluralism of opinions and maintaining a general policy against terrorism.
These are the dilemmas that a journalist will face during any specific event and they must make a corresponding decision.