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BNS ethics code


I. Opening part


1. BNS is independent news organisation committed to comprehensive reporting on important issues in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
2. We serve, and are accountable to our readers and, indirectly, to the society as a whole.
3. We recognize that our readers rely on our reporting to make important decisions in their professional capacity. We acknowledge that their trust is vital for our success.
4. BNS is completely transparent about our ownership and structure of our organization.
5. The quality of news reporting is the overriding interest in all operations of BNS.
6. The primary principle and the underlying value of all our operations is the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
7. This code applies to BNS newsgathering and reporting operations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
8. This code sets the minimum standards; stricter requirements may be enacted by editors if justified by particular circumstances.
9. BNS shall not be involved in activities which would compromise our ability to report accurately, objectively and comprehensively.
10. In our operations we respect the limits set for acquisition of information and news reporting by national and international laws.
11. BNS editorial staff adhere to the journalists’ and news publisher’s ethics codes of the countries where they are employed.
12. We resist undue and ungrounded restrictions on freedom of the press.

II. Editorial policy

1. We judge newsworthiness by the influence on society, its groups and markets.
2. Public interest is our first priority in newsgathering.
3. We always use honest means to obtain information, except in cases where it is not possible and is justified by the public interest.
4. Whenever possible, we ensure the reliability of our reports by seeking confirmation from independent sources.
5. We always seek comments from all parties affected by the story. If such comment is unavailable prior to release of important breaking news, we update the story after the receipt of such comment.
6. BNS treats equally all sides of a story.
7. We introduce ourselves to our sources and state whether the information they provide will be made public.
8. We do not solicit and use information received from children and/or mentally disabled except where it is acceptable to their parents/guardians and/or it is justified by public interest and/or it is justified by the interests of the interviewee and/or the interviewee understands the consequences.
9. We do not offer and do not pay money or provide any other economic benefits for information.
10. We avoid publishing information provided by anonymous sources, unless justified by public interest or the need to protect the source and provided that we have made every effort to confirm the report with a non-anonymous source.
11. We respect the presumption of innocence.
12. We avoid revealing the identity of crime or accident victims unless it is justified by public interest.
13. We aim to report the news as soon as possible without compromising its accuracy.
14. We make every reasonable effort to check the accuracy of the report before the publication
15. We seek to clearly and expressly separate the facts from opinions.
16. We admit mistakes and inaccuracies and correct them openly and clearly as soon as they are discovered.
17. BNS does not promote stereotypes about race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or other particularities of social status.

III. Independence and transparency

1. We never publish any news produced by any other sources than our editorial teams.
2. We never allow editing our reports by anyone else than our editorial team.
3. No-one outside members of BNS editorial staff are allowed to review news reports prior to publication, except persons who are quoted in the particular report, and within reasonable time.
4. Subscribers to BNS content are not eligible for preferential treatment or exceptions to general editorial policies when reporting.
5. We strive not to accept coverage of travel expenses or any other reporting-related expenses unless we cannot afford the cost and the trip is justified by public interest. In all of such cases, we disclose the existing arrangements to the public.
6. We never assume obligations to provide news coverage in exchange for paid travel expenses.
7. We do not accept any payments or gifts, or any personal benefits that could be seen as a direct or indirect attempt to influence our reporting.
8. Editorial staff must disclose potential conflicts of interest to his superior.
9. We understand a conflict of interest subject to disclosure as any existing or potential controversy or bias due to the personal or economical interests of the BNS staff, their family members and/or any related persons, or due to their political, religious or ideology-based convictions, or their belonging to any racial, ethnic or any other social group, that in each specific case can influence the objectivity of coverage.
10. Paid-for activities by members of editorial staff outside BNS are permitted if they do not raise a conflict of interest and are cleared with the superior.
11. Members of BNS editorial staff cannot use the information, obtained because of their work and available only to BNS, for personal gain.
12. When using images, supplied by external source, we indicate who provided it and whether we asked for it or it was offered.
13. BNS discloses to the public all regulatory or court decisions where BNS is involved.
14. We disclose to the public all gifts of a value exceeding 50 EUR.
15. All disclosures are published on a dedicated space on BNS website.

IV. Internal relations

1. Any member of editorial staff can voice opinions on any editorial issues.
2. Journalists can refuse to take assignments that contradict the law, this code, or due to a conflict of interests or for other justifiable reasons.
3. Journalists must report any pressure to disobey this code to management.
4. Editorial decisions are made by the editor on duty.
5. BNS takes full responsibility for the published reports except in cases where the journalist who published the report has performed wrongdoing intentionally or by negligence.

V. Outside BNS

1. Whether on- or off-duty, BNS editorial staff members must avoid doing anything that could compromise BNS readers’ trust in his/her judgement.
2. A member of BNS editorial staff may speak on behalf of BNS only when authorized by his superior.
3. All journalists of BNS are encouraged to reveal their identity when expressing opinions in online media channels.

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