HKFP has developed and committed to a new Code of Ethics to govern our reporting practices. The new guidelines – adopted this week – are part of our 2020 relaunch and have been shared publicly as part of our commitment to transparency. View them in full here.
In an era of growing misinformation and mistrust in institutions – including the media – HKFP believes that openness and accountability are evermore vital in order to safeguard public trust. During the recent months of political turmoil and unrest, HKFP has been repeatedly confronted with ethical conundrums. Should we blur protesters’ faces? How do we report on suicides without inspiring copycats? Can we ignore conspiracy theories when they are triggering mass protests? How can we best protect our sources?
Debating these issues, consulting others on a case-by-case basis and making top-down decisions was time-consuming, and it became clear that we needed to develop our own guidelines in order to ensure we remained consistent.
The code puts into black and white principles which will ensure we remain accurate, independent and impartial. It governs how we use quotes and anonymous sources, and how we can report sensitively on issues such as suicide, sexual violence and hate speech. It states how we will interact with victims of trauma and how we present graphic imagery or rumours. Issues surrounding scientific breakthroughs, confidentiality and election coverage are also covered.
The code also details new commitments related to staff conduct, with guidelines covering issues such as conflicts of interest, hospitality, impartiality, social media use and security. The final section deals with HKFP’s funding and assets, and details circumstances where we may refuse donations if there is any probability of editorial interference.
The code was developed by the team over almost two months and was adopted on March 11, 2020 to govern all future reporting practices. We wish to thank Agence-France Presse, who allowed us to use their guidelines as inspiration. The final phase of HKFP’s relaunch involves a complete website redesign and overhaul as part of the Newspack initiative – we aim to complete the website migration in early April following a brief shutdown.
Not-for-profit, run by journalists and completely independent, the HKFP team relies on readers to keep us going and to help safeguard press freedom. Learn more about our achievements in our latest Annual Report. Our Transparency Report shows how carefully we spend every cent.