Exit News is proud to announce its completion of the Ethical Journalism Network ‘Journalism Trust Initiative’ questionnaire and ethical media audit as a part of the global initiative led by Reporters Without Borders. Exit is the first media in Albania and the Western Balkans to complete the audit under the supervision of the President of the EJN Aidan White.
The process Exit underwent is a part of the Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey, supported by UNESCO and the EU.
White, the former General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, a former journalist with The Guardian, and long-time campaigner for journalist rights commented on the outcome of Exit’s participation.
“The Exit News commitment to ethics is a guarantee to the public about the quality of its journalism.
In these difficult days, people are bombarded with information- much of it false, distorted and even abusive. To combat these threats news media must renew their commitment to truth-telling, transparency and ethical reporting.
Exit News has done just that by setting a standard that all newspeople should follow, not just in Albania, but across the Western Balkans and the European Union.”
“Exit News have taken up the challenge, declaring “we have nothing to hide and are ready to speak the truth in the public interest.”
“I congratulate them for their pioneering action to build public trust in media.”
The project was developed in accordance with the European Committee for Standardisation, with the professional input from organisations and media including Article 19, BBC News, Disinformation Index Ltd, European Broadcasting Union, Facebook, Free Press Unlimited, Google, International Press Institute, Reporters Without Borders, The Associated Press, The Guardian Foundation, multiple educational institutions and national journalism associations. Observers of the project include UNESCO and the Council of Europe.
The ultimate goal of the initiative is to support “universal, individual freedom of opinion through access to information and independent, pluralistic media. By safeguarding professional standards, a healthier digital media landscape should emerge, from which each citizen and media worker, but also societies at large, could benefit.”
In order to face challenges in the local and international media scene, the initiative aims to enhance and safeguard journalism through ensuring compliance with ethical rules, approved journalistic methods, and guarantees of independence. Described as a “transparent framework”, the process promotes the principles of ethical journalism to provide guidance to the public and to encourage news providers to raise their professional norms and practices.
Overall, the initiative believes in self-regulation of journalism which requires agreed standards, rules, and benchmarks to be implemented to ensure the best practice of the journalism profession.’
The process follows five key principles:
- Accuracy and fact-based communication;
- Independence from political, corporate or other centres of power;
- Due impartiality in a systematic approach to reporting and editing;
- Fairness, respect and consideration of the impact of journalism on the lives of others;
- Transparency to facilitate accountability and responsibility to the public.
Exit will implement these principles through a code of conduct, internal and external policies, editorial guidelines, the guidance of an independent ombudsman, and ongoing training and reviews.
As a part of the process, Exit had to provide information including funding sources, revenue, owners and employees, structure, compliance, and internal processes to the EJN. In addition to this, Exit published on its site details of journalists, owners, editorial guidelines, contact information, and policies relating to complaints and accuracy.
Furthermore, Exit has appointed an independent external ombudsman to manage any complaints or issues. The Albanian Media Council (AMC) will deal with any matters escalated to them and Exit has pledged to be bound by their decisions.
Koloreto Cukali, Head of the AMC said:
“This is great news for Albanian media. Until now self-regulation has seemed as a burden we are somehow “forced into” because we want to keep the government out of handling the regulation of ethics.
But the latest decision by Exit shows a new, contemporary approach: accepting to be self-regulated not by “fear” but by the belief that this will improve the standards of reporting and build a more trusting relationship with the audience.”
In addition to this, Exit staff are undergoing ongoing training on ethics, compliance and independence as a part of the development of their professional skills. This will continue on a periodic basis with an aim to keep standards in line with evolving industry best practices.
Exit has also committed to undergoing an independent external audit after which they will receive an additional certification confirming its independence and adherence to international journalistic standards. Exit will then be subject to ongoing spot checks to ensure that compliance with the expected standards are maintained.
Exit News is proud to be the first media in Albania and the Balkans region to submit themselves to expert scrutiny of their activities.
You can read more on Ethical Journalism Network here: JTI Transparency Report_Exit_2021_Clean_Final