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Editorial Standards, Code of Conduct and Issue Resolution Procedures

In order to maintain a high quality experience for our readers, NewsNow operates a strict set of Editorial Standards, Code of Conduct and Issue Resolution Procedures for publishers.

Editorial Standards

Background

The credibility and quality of NewsNow as a news outlet is dependent on that of the websites it links to.

Our readers expect the inclusion of publications on NewsNow that have an established reputation for quality and/or breaking exclusive news stories through regular access to primary sources (e.g. in football, this means industry insiders such as players, clubs and their representatives). We classify such publications as authoritative, and examples of such publications include the press, broadcasters, officially authorised media, and some newswires.

We classify publications that do not have the same established reputation, or regular access to primary sources, as non-authoritative. The quality and credibility of their articles must be demonstrable to our readers, if they are to warrant a comparable level of exposure as authoritative publications on NewsNow.

This document sets out specific guidelines for non-authoritative publications to help them achieve this. These guidelines are designed to help deliver a high quality experience for users, leading to increased use of NewsNow and member publishers’ websites. [1]

1. Write original and substantial articles

Articles must be original and not consist of text substantially copied, rehashed, plagiarised, adapted, aggregated, or syndicated from other sources. They should add value to NewsNow and be materially different from those that are already on NewsNow. [Read more]

Content that is suitable includes exclusive news, current news rehashed with added value, round-ups of multiple sources with added value, comment, opinion pieces, columns, feature articles, analytical articles, investigative pieces, interviews and reviews. From sports sites, we also welcome match previews, match reports and player ratings.

Text articles should contain at least 150 words of original editorial. Multimedia articles (where the main content is video, audio or images) should contain at least 75 words of original text. Quotes copied from other publications/social media are not counted.

2. Substantiate claims, and use credible sources

Claims (including rumours) must be substantiated. Where claims are substantiated with reference to a source, the source must be credible (and attributed — see below). [Read more]

(For avoidance of doubt, an assertion is not a claim if it is common knowledge. To be considered common knowledge, a piece of information must have been previously verified by numerous credible sources and be widely known within the relevant community.)

You must take care and exercise good judgement when assessing the credibility of a source, even if the source is considered authoritative. Particular care should be taken when considering the credibility of anonymous sources, including those posting on social media or message boards, or referenced on other non-authoritative publications. If there exists reason to doubt a claim or the authenticity of a quote, or if after tracing it to its origin you find a claim or quote to have been misrepresented, then you should not report it as fact.

Distinguishing claims from speculation

You may convey your own speculation in your articles, but you must not present this as fact; the reader must be in no doubt that any speculation is your own guesswork.

3. Attribute claims and quotes

Attribution allows readers to verify the origin and legitimacy of the factual content of your articles. Where claims are substantiated with reference to a source, the source must be clearly attributed. Quotes must always be clearly attributed to their sources. [Read more]

Providing sufficient attribution

In the text of your articles, it must be unambiguously identifiable which quotes or claims are attributed to which sources. Generally speaking, it will be necessary to provide attribution within each separate block of information or quotes. Attributing a publication (or other source) only once at the beginning of an article will generally be insufficient.

Specific credible sources should always be attributed, which means that language such as "according to reports", “reports in Spain say”, "allegedly", "it is thought", “we understand” should be avoided.

Claims and quotes sourced from credible publications

You must attribute the publication from which you source any claim or quote. Also, where known, reference the original credible source of the claim or quote. For avoidance of doubt, when repeating a quote obtained from another publication you must state the name of the individual or organisation quoted.

Non-exclusive quotes or information

The origin of non-exclusive quotes or information, given to or observed by reporters from more than one publication, must be stated.

Where you have transcribed or taken your information from a broadcast (or webcast) of an event, you must attribute the broadcaster (or webcaster) and the context, such as the TV or radio programme (or hosting website) and its transmission time.

Where you have transcribed or taken your information from an individual in circumstances in which you were present, but not in a capacity allowing for dialogue with that person (e.g. when you are witnessing a public event), you must provide full details.

Phrasing such as ‘told reporters’ may only be used alone (i.e. without giving further details) when you were one of the reporters present and able in principle to enter into dialogue with the person quoted (e.g. when attending a press conference, or participating in a roundtable interview shared with other reporters).

Exclusive quotes or information

In the case of information obtained exclusively, you must state the means by which it was obtained (e.g. in response to email questions, by telephone or face-to-face interview) in conjunction with the name of your publication (e.g. ‘in an interview with The Daily Football’, or ‘answering questions posed by The Daily Football by email’ or ‘A club insider told The Daily Football’). You must do this whether you are in a position to disclose the source’s name or not.

Online sources

In the case of sources that are publicly available online, your articles must clearly link to them. Links should point to the exact page, whether in English or in another language, where the claim or quote can be seen (i.e. the original article). It is not sufficient to link to the source’s homepage. In the case of social media posts (e.g. Twitter, Instagram), we recommend using the embed function provided by the platform. Otherwise, the original post must be linked.

Offline sources

Offline sources must be referenced with sufficient information to allow readers to verify the claim/quote.

Round-ups

For avoidance of doubt, when producing round-ups of news from other publications you must still fully reference each source.

4. Proof-read and fact-check your work

You should take reasonable steps to avoid obvious mistakes in your spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Your prose should read well, and the message of your articles should be well constructed and easy to follow. [Read more]

All articles must be proofread, fact-checked and assessed for overall suitability prior to publication. On sites with more than one writer, there must be appointed editor(s) responsible for so doing. Responsibility for the quality of a publication’s articles ultimately lies with its editors.

5. Write relevant headlines

Articles must feature relevant headlines, which must be factually accurate and not sensational or misleading. NewsNow users must be given fair expectations of an article’s content when deciding which headlines to click on. [Read more]

Repeated publication of articles that fail to deliver what their headline suggests may be viewed as an attempt to manipulate our systems. This disappoints readers, damages NewsNow’s reputation and in the long run reduces traffic for everyone.

Examples of issues we commonly encounter include:

  1. Misleading headlines

    Headlines must accurately describe the nature of the articles that follow. Headlines are commonly rendered misleading by:

    1. The strategic inclusion of keywords and/or omission of pertinent information. (e.g. ‘Arsenal target agrees deal’ when the deal concerns an unmentioned club and not Arsenal; ‘Liverpool star set to leave’ when the unnamed individual is not an established star of the Liverpool first team.)
    2. Presenting your own speculation as fact.
    3. Using a question mark to present speculation as a potentially substantiated claim (e.g. ‘United star to leave in summer?’ when this is a speculative opinion piece and not based on substantiated information).
    4. Not adequately warning that the article is a joke or spoof, and not meant to be taken seriously.
    5. The paraphrasing, condensing, or otherwise misrepresentation, of an original quote. Quotes may only be incorporated into a headline when reproduced verbatim.
    6. The representation of previously unquoted words in the form of a quote. Quotation marks (or inverted commas) may only be used around word(s) that were published in quotation marks (or inverted commas) in your source material.
    7. Being overly long, so as to be truncated by our systems. Headlines must be representative of articles before the point at which their length necessitates truncation.
  2. Exaggerated and sensational language or typography

    Exaggerated and sensational language — such as ‘shock’, ‘amazing’, ‘unbelievable’, ‘outrageous’ — used in headlines must be fully justified in the articles that follow. You may use ‘Exclusive’, ‘Revealed:’, and ‘Breaking news’ only when your publication is genuinely breaking the news exclusively (i.e. before all other publications), as opposed to when repeating it. Exclamation marks and block capitals may not be used at any time.

  3. Unsubstantiated claims

    To avoid publishing headlines that make unsubstantiated claims:

    1. Claims made in the headline must be clearly attributed within the article text.
    2. Language implying conclusiveness — such as ‘confirmed’, ‘done deal’, ‘agreed’ — may only be used if the information has been officially confirmed.
    3. Valuations (for example: footballer transfer fees) must derive from a recently completed deal or else be attributed to an authoritative source within your article. Monetary amounts must be reported in the currency of your publication’s origin. Use of cumulative amounts — such as ‘City eyeing three players worth a combined £100m’ — may only be used when there is a clear intention for all of the deals to be completed together.
  4. Keyword stuffing

    Keyword stuffing is the practice of deliberately incorporating words (or keywords), that are not of primary relevance to the story, in the headline in an attempt to influence which NewsNow topics the headline will appear in. Headlines should rarely require numerous keywords, such as football team or player names, nicknames or stadium names.

  5. Excessive use of quotes

    A headline may only consist largely of quotes when they have been obtained exclusively by your publication.

  6. Headlines relevant to the nature of article content

    Headlines must accurately describe the nature of the article that follows. Where the primary content of the article is not a single piece of original text — for example in the case of a pictorial article, video article, or a round-up summarising other articles — this must be made explicit by prefixing the headline with one of the following tags: ‘Pictures:’, ‘Photos:’, ‘Gallery:’, ‘Slideshow:’, ‘Video:’, ‘Watch:’, ‘Round-up:’.

6. Provide article metadata

Each article must contain a byline, stating the name of the author. It must also include the date and, if possible, time of publication.

7. Provide ‘About us’ and ‘Contact us’ pages

Your publication must contain: an ‘About Us’ page, to provide background on your publication to your readers; and a ‘Contact’ page, to allow readers to provide feedback.

Code of Conduct

The following practices are considered grounds for immediate initiation of our Issues Resolution Procedures (detailed below):

  1. Attempting to manipulate in which sections of NewsNow links to your articles will appear, the ranking of articles within our Top Stories, or otherwise attempting to manipulate our systems.
  2. Causing any duplicate articles to be published on NewsNow (such as any article published under more than one URL or on a URL that has been changed). If you need to republish an article with an updated headline, you must do so on the original URL. If you cannot do this, or if your updated headline is not automatically picked up by our systems, you must contact us first to have the original headline and URL deleted from NewsNow. Only after the original has been deleted may you republish the article under a new URL. Deleting the original article from your site or your feed will not result in it automatically disappearing from NewsNow. Republishing that leads to duplication may be considered an attempt to manipulate our systems.
  3. Causing any off-topic articles to be published on NewsNow, including but not limited to competitions, offers or discounts, updates about one’s own website, or advertorial, or articles containing any editorial written purely for the purpose of providing paid links (such as to betting websites).
  4. Using sectarian, racist, defamatory or libellous language; hate speech; excessive or inappropriate profanity or insulting language. Content must abide by the laws of England and Wales, or any other relevant jurisdiction.
  5. Moving or removing the NewsNow logo from its agreed position on your site, or altering its appearance or implementation, except by prior arrangement.
  6. Any action or activity that in our sole judgement may affect the perceived quality or integrity of NewsNow’s services or that risks bringing NewsNow or its services into disrepute.

Issue Resolution Procedures

NewsNow aims to provide the highest possible quality of service, and to maintain an environment suitable for all. We therefore endeavour to investigate all serious issues or credible complaints that are brought to our attention, and to take appropriate action.

Where we have an immediate quality of service concern, we will normally remove one or more headlines, publication sections, or an entire publication, without notice and until the matter has been resolved.

For very serious breaches or for gross misconduct, we reserve the right to remove a publication permanently and without notice.

Where we identify other apparent breaches of our Editorial Standards or Code of Conduct, we will normally request a written explanation from the publisher. Where a publisher cannot provide a satisfactory explanation, sanctions will be applied. Depending on the severity of the breach, or the persistence of breaches, sanctions may include: written warning, temporary suspension (for a period of between one week and several months depending on circumstances), reclassification (changing where a site’s headlines appear on NewsNow) and permanent removal.

NewsNow reserves the right to amend or improve its Editorial Standards, Code of Conduct and Issue Resolution Procedures at any time without notice.


[1]While we would like for all publications to aspire to the same high standards of journalism, due to limitations in internal resources and availability of news in certain topics, we can't afford to strictly enforce our standards everywhere. However, we aim to enforce them where publications appear prominently in NewsNow's most popular topics (and where we otherwise deem necessary).