Exit News’s mission is to serve the public interest and all audiences by providing independent, high-quality, factual, and ethical content which inform, educate and start discussion. Exit is independent from government and political parties and has its editorial independence in the hands of its editors.
The purpose of Exit News is:
To provide up to date and relevant information to help people understand what is happening in Albania and the Western Balkan Region;
To be accessible and relevant to all people, regardless of social, economic, political, gender, religious, or cultural background;
To create innovative content of the highest quality;
To reflect, represent, and serve the diverse communities and voices in Albania with honesty and integrity;
To remain an independent voice at a time when trust in the media is at a global, all-time low.
It is the duty of the editor and co-editors of exit to set the standards for the Exit News editorial and content output. Exit will publish, review, and ensure the observance of guidelines that have been created to ensure appropriate editorial standards, while safeguarding the editorial integrity, and high quality of the platform in all of it’s forms.
Producing and upholding these standards is the obligation of the editor and co-editors. Ensuring that content meets the standards laid down in this document, is the responsibility of the whole team.
Exit News comprises an Editor (in Chief), Co Editors, Senior Contributors, Junior Contributors, and external contributors. The Editor has overall editorial control of Exit News and makes important editorial decisions. In many cases, this responsibility is delegated to Co Editors who will refer again to the Editor in cases where they are unsure or there is contentious content.
Senior Contributors, Junior Contributors, and External Contributors answer to the Co Editors and Editor with the Editors word being final.
Each article that is published will be reviewed by one person of Co Editor or Editor status, and in most cases, two.
Out Editorial Values
Our readers trust Exit News and they expect us to adhere to the highest possible editorial standards.
Under the provisions of the Albanian Constitution, as well as international law such as the European Convention on Human Rights, we have a right to freedom of expression. This freedom is at the heart of Exit News independence. Our audience has the right to consume content, information, and ideas that have not been interfered with by any external influences or third parties. Our readers also expect us to balance the right to freedom of expression with our responsibilities to our audiences and contributors.
We operate in the public interest by publishing stories we believe are significant to our audiences and by holding power, in all its forms, to account. Through our journalism, we seek to establish the truth and to provide coverage that is accurate and fair. We publish stories that many are scared to because we feel we have a duty to our readers. We seek to publish impartial stories that are based on facts and even in the case of our opinions, we seek to back them with fact and careful analysis. We strive for an output that includes a diversity of opinion from every side of the political and social spectrum, ensuring that no thought is omitted. We are independent of outside interests and arrangements that could compromise our editorial standards.
Our editorial standards do not require absolute neutrality on every issue, or total detachment from fundamental democratic principles.
The concept of freedom of expression facilitates the exchange of ideas and information without state interference. It informs public debate, encourages discussion, and promotes curiosity, engagement and criticism. However, we recognise that freedom of speech is not an absolute right and we acknowledge that it carries responsibility and is subject to legal restrictions and limits.
In exercising our right to free speech, we must ensure we offer appropriate protection to vulnerable groups and avoid causing unnecessary or unjustifiable offence. We must also respect privacy- only putting private information into the public domain in cases where the public interest outweighs the individual’s right to privacy.
The Public Interest
We publish stories that are ‘in the public interest’. There is no single definition of public interest but it comprises freedom of expression, imparting information that assists people in decision making on matters of public importance, preventing misleading statements or actions from individuals or organisations, detecting or exposing crime and corruption, exposing injustice, incompetence, and negligence.
Albanian Ethical Media Council
Exit News is a founding member of the Albanian Ethical Media Council, a non-governmental organisation and a self-regulatory platform. This platform brings together local media and ensures adherence to a set of ethical guidelines and obligations. Signatories are bound to act in an ethical way and in line with the code of the Council, failure to do so can result in expulsion from the Alliance.
Exit News wants to be transparent and accountable. Every year we will conduct a survey of our readers to ask for their criticisms, complaints, and compliments. We will publish these answers and act on issues raised, within our team. The Editorial Standards and other applicable policies will be updated as a result of changes made.
We also keep a written record of all complaints and the outcome of each complaint.
Anyone with any complaints or comments is invited to contact us via email, or in the case of an emergency, via phone.
We are open in admitting when we have made mistakes. Sometimes mistakes can be made even with careful checking and sourcing. We want to learn from each mistake that we make. As such we have a process in place for the handling and resolution of complaints. This sets out the timeframes that complaints will be answered within.
Complaints are initially dealt with by the Editor of Exit News as laid out in the Complaints Procedure. If the outcome is not satisfactory, the matter can be escalated to the Albanian Ethical Media Council or the Albanian Media Council.
In cases where a serious breach of standards has been observed, we will publish an apology, retraction, or explanation where required. In terms of decisions made by the Albanian Ethical Media Council or Albanian Media Council, we are obliged to act on their recommendations.
How to Use the Guidelines
The Exit News Editorial Guidelines apply to all content that is published under the name Exit, Exit News, or Exit News- Explaining Albania. These guidelines set out the standards that are expected by anyone creating or publishing content for use on our platforms. They are based on industry best practices and standards published by leading media houses and journalism unions and organisations. They are intended to help anyone producing our content, with difficult editorial issues.
The Guidelines set out our ethical obligations which are also in-line with local law. There will be occasions that we publish content that could be considered controversial or that raises ethical questions. In these situations, we are sure to follow all ethical standards and even obtain legal advice prior to publishing.
Roles and Responsibilities
Knowledge of the editorial guidelines is mandatory for all journalists at Exit News. Furthermore, it is an essential professional skill and everyone who writes for Exit. In the case of contributors who are not contracted, it is the duty of the editor or co-editor to ensure that editorial guidelines are met.
When applying Guidelines, individual journalists are expected to make most of the necessary judgements but also to recognise that some need the input of a co-editor or editor. The Guidelines advise, and sometimes require reference to a more senior team member or a specialist such as lawyer.
Editors and co-editors must be prepared to discuss areas of concern and offer guidance. They must provide support to all staff and contributors in the editorial management of their content.
Referrals are a key part of Exit News editorial guidelines. When dealing with complex, important or contentious issues, journalists should not hesitate in referring to higher-up team members.
The Editorial Guidelines specify a number of Mandatory Refeerrals which refer to senior editorial figures within Exit News. Mandatory referrals are an important part of Exit’s editorial management system and are essential for compliance.
Responsibility for Editorial Content and ensuring that it complies with guidelines lies with each member of Exit news. We insist that all content we publish is reviewed by at least one, if not two, individuals before publication. In the case of time sensitive or breaking news, there are occasions where it can be published but then a senior team member will be asked to review it immediately.
The concept of Editorial Justification recurs throughout our Guidelines and is an integral part of applying our values and standards.
It refers to a judgement that is made in particular circumstances in the case where the editorial purposes of the content outweigh any potential negative impact on our audience or individuals. It includes but is not limited to: balancing the privacy of individuals against the public interest in revealing information about them: the use of potentially offensive content in appropriate contexts against the obligation to avoid unnecessary offence; Exit News right to freedom of expression; the audiences right to know.
Exit News is committed to achieving due accuracy in all of its content. We believe this is a fundamental part of building and maintaining our reputation and the trust of the reader. The term “due” means that accuracy must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the nature of the content and the audience expectation.
The due accuracy of some content, for example fictional writing, opinions, hypothetical situations, will not be the same as for factual content. The requirements can vary significantly between factual writing, reporting, analysis, commentary, opinion, historical content, or other.
Exit News bases all reports on reputable sources, original sources, interviews, comments from sources, and other forms of sound evidence. We ensure that we corroborate all information that we receive and base our reporting on. We are honest about what we don’t know and avoid unfounded speculation. If we are unable to corroborate a claim, allegation, or fact, we must ensure that we state this.
Exit News must not knowingly and materially mislead readers. We must not distort facts, present invented material as fact, or seek to undermine our readers' trust in our content.
We should acknowledge serious factual errors and correct them clearly, quickly, and appropriately.
Any proposal to rely on a single unnamed source that is making a serious allegation, or to grant anonymity to a significant contributor making a serious allegation must be approved by the Editor prior to publication.
Accuracy is not just about getting facts right. Opinions, as well as facts must also be considered. When necessary, all facts and information should be weighed to get to the truth.
Where appropriate and possible we should:
Use first hand sources;
Check facts and statistics, identifying important limitations and caveats;
Validate the authenticity of documents and digital material;
Corroborate claims and allegations made by contributors;
Weigh, interpret, and contextualise claims;
Offer the right of reply to any individual who has had an allegation lodged against them or an entity that they represent.
In terms of breaking news and current affairs, it is more important to be accurate than to be the first to publish the story.
We must also try to witness events and gather information first hand. When this is not possible, we must talk to first-hand sources and corroborate their evidence where possible. We must also not rely on a single source, unless in extenuating circumstances. If we do, the source must be credible, named, and on-the-record.
Where possible, we should record our research interviews with sources that make serious allegations. In circumstances where this may inhibit the source, full notes should be made, ideally at the time, or straight afterwards.
We must check and verify all information, documents, and facts. If we have been unable to verify it, we should say so.
Reporting Statistics and Risks
We should treat statistics with the same level of scepticism that we do for facts or quotes and not take the numbers at face value. When content includes statistics, we should explain them clearly, contextualise, weigh, and interpret them, and even challenge them where appropriate. They must be accurate and verified where necessary with all limitations and caveats explained.
When reporting risk, we must be aware that our reporting can have an impact on the public perception of that risk, particularly in terms of health and crime. We should avoid sensationalism and worrying our audience. We can achieve this by contextualising our reports to be clear about the likelihood of the risk occurring. We must also consider the emotional impact pictures and personal testimony can have, particularly in terms of risk.
The inclusion of user-generated content raises a number of challenges. We should not assume that it is accurate and steps to verify it should be taken. We should be particularly careful not to include material that could have been supplied by a political party, a lobby group, or anyone with a vested interest in the story. User-generated content must be clearly identified as such.
Material from the Internet and Social Media
Even apparently reliable sources of information on the internet are not always accurate. It may be necessary to check who is running the website or to confirm that the material is genuine.
Care needs to be taken to distinguish fact from rumour, particularly on social media where misinformation can be deliberate and where rumours can spread within seconds. Additional scrutiny may be necessary if material from social media is being used to corroborate a fact.
Material from Third Parties
Any material supplied by a third party including other news providers must be treated with appropriate caution, taking into account the reputation of the source. We should only use material supplied by third parties if it is credible and reliable.
Note-Taking for Journalists
We must take reliable, accurate, and detailed notes of all significant research and other information. We must keep records of research including written and electronic correspondence, background notes, and documents. They should be kept in a way that allows double checking by another member of the team. When we publish serious allegations made by an anonymous source, full, timely notes must be kept of all interviews, conversations, and other communications.
Avoid Misleading Audiences
We must not knowingly and materially mislead our audiences with our content. Exit News reminds readers that a difference of opinion does not mean that what we have written is factually incorrect.
Where possible, we will identify our online sources of information and provide their credentials so that readers can judge their status.
When quoting an anonymous source, especially one making serious allegations, we must take all appropriate steps to protect their identity. However, we must give the readers all the information we can in a way that does not mislead the sources status.
When a promise of anonymity is made, both the journalist and the source must understand that this extends to everyone in Exit who is aware of the identity of the source.
Where anonymity is sought, the editor has the right to be told the source’s identity and is equally obliged to keep this information confidential. There are cases where the editor will not wish to know the identity of the source.
Exit will not publish any information from any sources, anonymous or otherwise, without their explicit permission.
All decisions on granting anonymity to an unnamed source making serious allegations will be decided on a case by case basis by the Editor.
Online Link to Third-Party Websites
At times, Exit News will link to websites operated by others. These will be credible and reliable except in circumstances where editorially justified. These include cases which give the particular view of a person or organization that is significant to the story.
In cases where a serious factual mistake is made, we should correct it quickly, clearly and appropriately. Inaccuracy can lead to a complaint of unfairness. A good way to correct a factual error is saying what was wrong as well as putting it right.
If we believe we have made a defamatory inaccuracy, the Editor must be informed immediately.
Exit News is committed to achieving due impartiality in its content. This commitment is fundamental to our reputation, values, and the trust of our audience. The term ‘due’ means that impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking into account the subject and nature of the content and the audience expectations.
Due impartiality is more than a simple matter of ‘balance’ or being neutral between two opposing view points. We must be inclusive and invite the contribution of a range of views to our publication schedule. It does not require neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles or Constitutional rights. We are committed to reflecting a wide range of subject matter, in proportion to our capabilities and over an appropriate time frame.
In applying impartiality to news, we give due weight to current events, opinion, and the main strand of the argument. In terms of reporting corruption and scandals, we focus on those that involve individuals in power at that particular time. We will produce any content about any subject, at any point on the spectrum of debate as long as there is editorial justification for doing so.
We must question and hold power to account with consistency and due impartiality.
We must ensure that our reporting does not create material that can be used by third parties as a part of their campaign. We recognise that we do not have control over the actions of third parties in this matter. We do not let this stop us from highlighting issues of public interest.
Our journalists are also writers and individuals. As such they have the freedom to explore subjects from their perspective and to create content that reflects their distinctive voice. It must be clear to the audience that their opinion is being expressed and their opinion must have editorial justification and be ethical.
Each of our writers has the freedom to explore their own ideas and opinions, as long as they are in line with the Editorial Standards. The breadth and diversity of opinion is reliant upon the individuals that make up the Exit News team at any given time. We invite the contribution of any individual from any social, political, cultural, or other background as long as their contribution is ethical and in-line with the Editorial Guidelines.
We are always open to explore other perspectives, opinions, and ideas.
Impartiality does not require the range of perspectives of opinions to be covered in equal proportions either across our output, or in a single article. Instead, we seek to achieve due weight. For example, minority views or the actions of an individual not in power, should not be given similar weight to those with more support or power.
We do not omit the views of others that could contradict the content of an article. At all times, we seek to get comments from the other party. There are times we make reasoned decisions, applying consistent editorial judgement on whether to include or omit a certain perspective.
News, Current Affairs, and Factual Output
Our news will be treated with due impartiality giving weight to events, opinion, and main strands of the argument. The tone of news stories will reflect our editorial values including commitment to impartiality.
We do not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations, including academics, professionals, politicians, journalists, writers, researchers etc, are not biased. Appropriate information about their affiliations, funding, and viewpoints should be made available to readers when relevant.
Contentious Views or Possible Offence
Any contributor that expresses a contentious view, either via interview or otherwise, must be challenged while being given the fair change to set out their response. The views of the minority should be given appropriate space. There are times we will include the view of people whose views may cause offence. In such cases, this decision should be taken by the Editor.
The potential for offence must be weighed up against the public interest and any risk to Exit’s impartiality. Coverage should acknowledge the possibility of offence and be appropriately robust while also being dispassionate.
We will be open, honest, straightforward and fair in our dealings with sources, contributors, potential contributors and audiences unless there is a clear public interest in doing otherwise, or we need to consider issues such as legal matters, safety, or confidentiality.
We should normally seek the informed consent of our contributors. Individuals and organisations should be appropriately informed about the planned nature and context of their contributions before they participate unless there is an editorial justification for proceeding without their consent.
When our output contains allegations of wrongdoing, iniquity or incompetence or lays out a strong and damaging critique of an identifiable individual or organisation, those criticised should normally have a right of reply, unless there is an editorial justification to proceed without it.
We owe due care to our contributors or potential contributors, as well as to our sources, who may be caused harm or distress as a result of their contribution. Due care is the level of care that is appropriate to the individual and particular circumstances. We must judge this taking into account the editorial content, the nature and degree of the individual’s involvement and their public position, along with other relevant factors such as safety risks or whether the individual is vulnerable.
Consensus and Scrutiny
There are some issues that may seem uncontroversial and appear to be backed by the consensus of opinion. Despite this, they can still cause a risk to Exit News’ impartiality. Regardless of this, we should continue to report where the consensus lies and give it due weight. We must look for the opinions of opposition where necessary and be careful not to accept the consensus of either side.
We must challenge our own assumptions and experiences and those that may be held by the audience. We must avoid enforcing generalisations that are not backed by evidence. This could happen in areas such as politics, race, charity, science, technology, medicite or other.
There are cases where content may include the expression of a view on a controversial subject and still meet the requirements of due impartiality. When related to matters of ethics and public policy, an individual perspective is sometimes applicable.
Campaigns and initiatives
Exit News will remain independent and distanced from government initiatives, campaigners, charities, and agendas.
Reporting on the activities of a government official, entity, or party does not mean that it is supported, condoned, or approved by Exit News. Nor does it reflect the personal or professional view of the journalist or Editor. It is merely a presentation of an event that occurred and was deemed of interest to the readers.
Social Action is an important part of Exit News editorial portfolio. Care is required to ensure that Exit sets its own social action agenda and has decided on its own priorities.
Exit believes in supporting human rights as laid out by the European Court of Human Rights, the International Convention on Human Rights, and local law including the Constitution of the Republic of Albania.
Exit believes that all people regardless of ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual preference, age, race, religion, social, political, or other background, is entitled to the same rights as the rest of society. We do not discriminate based on any of the above, or other, criteria.
We do not directly support the agenda of any particular campaign group or charity and we do not favour one over another.
Before publishing information on the activities of a certain social group, we ensure that it is inline with our policy on supporting human rights.
There are times we will report on actions of groups that we do not agree with. Appropriate context of their views will be given at all times.
The focus of our scrutiny is on those who are in power at the time of writing. This extends to those who hold power and responsibility, and to those who seek to influence them.
We extend a proportionate amount of scrutiny to those who are in opposition and those who seek to influence them.
Those who do not hold power are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as those that are, due to their actions having little influence or consequence.
Our focus will always be on those that hold the most power, whoever they may be.
Elections and Referendums
During the run up to elections and during elections, Exit News will strive to involve greater sensitivity with regard to impartiality. It will, however, continue to exercise the principle of scrutiny, as outlined above.
Personal View Content
Exit News welcomes content from individuals, politicians, professionals and other relevant stakeholders. They are welcome to offer a personal view or opinion, express a belief, or advance a contentious argument. This can include the outright expression of partial views to the opinion of a specialist of academic. It can also include views expressed through contribution from readers. These contribute to the public understanding and debate. Exit News welcomes such contributions from all stakeholders and does not discriminate.
Such opinions will be clearly labelled as such. The credentials of the contributor must be clearly mentioned and all submissions must be in line with ethics and Editorial Guidelines.
Contributors and Informed Consent
We should treat our contributors honestly and with respect. Our commitment to fairness is normally achieved by ensuring that people provide ‘informed consent’ before they participate. ‘Informed consent’ means that contributors should be in possession of the knowledge that is necessary for a reasoned decision to take part. Sometimes, in the public interest, it may be appropriate to withhold certain information.
Before taking part in Exit News content, we will inform them of the following:
The nature of the content, what it is about and its purpose;
Why they are being asked to contribute, where it will appear, and when;
The nature of their involvement;
Areas of questioning.
We obtain informed consent from our contributors in a variety of ways depending on the circumstances of their contribution. Wherever practicable we should obtain consent in a form capable of proof which may include a consent form, an email exchange, a recording of the contributor’s confirmation that they understand the nature of the output and are content to take part, or a contemporaneous note of the consent conversations.
Young people and vulnerable adults may not always be in a position to give informed assent or consent. Vulnerable people include those with learning difficulties or forms of dementia, the bereaved, and people who are sick or terminally ill. In such cases, someone over 18 with primary responsibility for their care should normally give consent on their behalf, unless it is editorially justified to proceed without it. In particular, we should not ask someone who is unable to give their own consent for views on matters likely to be beyond their capacity to answer properly.
Where a contributor has given informed consent to be involved in programming, we will not normally withdraw their contribution prior to broadcast, but we should listen carefully to any reasonable objections.
We should make checks to establish the credentials of our contributors and to avoid being hoaxed, or taken in by serial guests. The nature of these checks should be appropriate to the nature and significance of their contribution, the content and the genre.
There are risks in advertising or appealing for contributors through social media or other internet resources. Appropriate checks should be made to screen out unsuitable or untruthful applicants.
We should not put the health and safety of contributors or any other participants at any significant risk.
We must treat our contributors and potential contributors with respect. We must not unduly intimidate, humiliate or behave aggressively towards contributors, either to obtain their consent or during their participation in our output.
Sometimes information in the public interest is available only through sources or contributors on an ‘off-the-record’ or anonymous basis.When practicable, referral should be made to a senior editorial figure or, for independent production companies, to the commissioning editor, who may consult Editorial Policy, before an agreement is made to protect a source’s anonymity. Consideration should be given to whether anonymity should be granted and how it will be achieved.
Anonymity should be offered only when there is an editorial justification for doing so. When we grant a contributor or source anonymity as a condition of their participation, we must agree to the extent of anonymity we will provide. In order to achieve that, we will need to understand who the contributor wishes to be anonymous from and why. It may be sufficient to ensure that the contributor or source is not readily recognisable to the general public, or they may wish to be rendered unidentifiable even to close friends and family. We should keep a record of conversations with sources and contributors about anonymity.
We must ensure when we promise anonymity that we are in a position to honour it, taking account of the implications of any possible court order demanding the disclosure of our unbroadcast material. When anonymity is essential, no document, computer file, or other record should identify a contributor or source. This includes notebooks, administrative paperwork, electronic devices, as well as video and audio material.
The victims and alleged victims of some offences, including rape and most offences with a sexual element, have a lifelong right not to be identified as victims of those offences. This right exists whether or not the alleged crime has been reported to police. The victims and alleged victims of female genital mutilation, forced marriage and human trafficking are also afforded automatic anonymity by law in relation to those alleged offences. Particular care will have to be taken over jigsaw identification in cases where it is the victim’s own family members who are accused of offences. Individuals aged 16 and above can waive their anonymity, but they must do this in writing.
There are times when Exit will give a contributor the opportunity to view the article before publication. Exit reserves the right to decide when this will occur. We must not surrender editorial control to contributors or third parties. We address situations where a contributor asks for questions to be agreed in advance or to avoid certain subjects, on a case-by-case basis.
Right of Reply
When our content makes allegations of wrongdoing, iniquity or incompetence, or makes a damning critique of an individual or institutions, we offer the right of reply. This means to give a fair opportunity to respond to allegations.
When seeking a response the subject of allegations should normally be given the following information:
description of the allegations in sufficient detail to enable an informed response
details of the nature, format and content of the programme, including the title if significant
when and where the content will be first published (if known) and
an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond.
Exit News reserves the right to publish the fact that a reply was not given during the specified time frame.
Exit News respects privacy and does not infringe it without good reason. We work in line with relevant local legislation regarding the protection of privacy of individuals and private information about them, but balance it with a broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression.
Meeting these ethical and legal obligations in our publications requires consideration of the balance between privacy and our right to broadcast information in the public interest. We must be able to demonstrate why an infringement of privacy is justified, when using the public interest to justify an infringement, we must consider proportionality.
Legitimate Expectations of Privacy
Legitimate expectations of privacy will vary according to the place and nature of the information, activity or condition in question, the extent to which it is in the public domain (if at all) and whether the individual concerned is already in the public eye. People under investigation or in the public eye, and their immediate family and friends, retain the right to a private life, although private behaviour can raise issues of legitimate public interest.
We must be able to justify an infringement of an individual’s privacy without their consent by demonstrating that the intrusion is outweighed by the public interest.
We normally only report the private behaviour of public figures where their conduct is unlawful or where broader public issues are raised either by the behaviour itself or by the consequences of its becoming widely known. The fact of publication by other media may not justify our reporting of it.
We must balance the public interest in the full and accurate reporting of stories involving human suffering and distress with an individual’s privacy and respect for their human dignity.
Reporting Crime and Antisocial Behavior
Exit News reports crime and antisocial behavior as a matter of public interest. Our coverage is aimed at giving audiences the facts in context and reflects our right to freedom of expression and the audience's right to receive information.
We do not report on all crimes and instances of antisocial behavior, instead we choose stories that are related to human rights, public figures, or legitimate cases of public interest. We aim to avoid worrying the public or producing content that is sensationalist in nature.
We take care to ensure we do not condone, encourage, or glamorise antisocial or criminal behavior. We respect the balance between reporting crime and respecting the privacy and dignity of victims and their family. We also take care to ensure that our reporting does not add to people’s fear of becoming victims of crime.
Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime, or lead to disorder, must not be included in our services. There will be times when it is in the public interest to include extreme or challenging views.
We must ensure that material which contains hate speech is not included in our output without editorial justification.
Children and Young People as Contributors
Children and young people have a right to speak out and to participate, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but we must safeguard the welfare of those who contribute to our content, wherever in the world we operate and irrespective of any consent that might have been given by a parent or other adult acting in loco parentis.
We must take due care over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of under-18s who take part or are otherwise involved in our editorial content, irrespective of any consent given by them or by a parent, guardian or other person acting in loco parentis. Their welfare must take priority over any editorial requirement.
We must ensure that under-18s are not caused unnecessary distress or anxiety by their involvement in our output. Their involvement must be editorially justified, consents should be obtained as appropriate to the circumstances of the person and the nature of the contribution and content, and support should be given to them where necessary.
We must be sure that information we disclose about children and young people does not put them at risk of harm. This includes information relating to name, age, location, address, school, and areas they frequent. We must be sure that information we reveal cannot be combined to make it easy to identify where they may be found.
Children and young people have the right to a voice but we must not encourage them to participate in the platform when they are younger than the minimum age of requirement.
In cases where the participation of a child or young person is required, we will obtain both the informed consent of the child or young person and the parent or legal guardian. Both forms of consent are necessary to be in line with our Editorial Guidelines.
Any proposal to use information or the contribution of children must be approved by the Editor.
Even when we have secured parental consent we must consider the impact and possible consequences of any content which involves a child or young person, at all stages of the production process, including the period after transmission and any availability online, and must put appropriate measures in place where necessary. This applies both when we have approached the under-18 to contribute and when they have approached us, including with user-generated content. We should consider the potential negative impact of social media on the under-18 and advise them and their parents/guardians accordingly.
We will not identify anyone under the age of 18 who is suspected of being involved in antisocial or criminal behavior.
We will not identify anyone under the age of 18, or otherwise who is a suspected or confirmed victim of a crime.
Opinions, Commentary, and Analysis
Exit News respects the right of the individual in terms of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom to form an express and opinion. When submitting an opinion piece to Exit News, we must ensure that it is not defamatory, balances between fact and opinion, that all opinions are made clear, and that it does not breach our Editorial Guidelines. They must also not include hate speech, harassment, or violations of privacy.
Politics, Public Policy and Polls
Exit News principles relating to political impartiality and independence from political influence are integral top our coverage of politics and public policy. We aim, over an appropriate time frame, to give due weight and prominence to all strands of the argument, where possible.
Those in government will be the primary source of news and will need to be held to account, but the voices and activities of other parties should be routinely aired and challenged. Publishing a report on a political person or entity does not translate to support for them.
Opinions on politics or public policy must be clearly labelled as such. We must however provide further reading and information on topics that are related to the article, in order for the reader to understand the full story and perspective.
Albania has a highly polarised political culture. It is often assumed that criticising one political party means support for the other, or vice versa. It is also assumed that reporting, without opinion, on the activities of one political party, translates into support.This is not the case. Achieving impartiality involves taking account of all political parties, giving platform to their voice, whether we agree with them or not, and applying the principle of proportionality in terms of who is in power.
Political Interviews and Contributions
Requests for political interviews should be clear about the nature of the output and the context for which they are intended. All arrangements must stand up to public scrutiny and must not prevent interviewees being asked appropriate questions.
When inviting politicians, or those who may be seeking office, to contribute to non-political output, whether on the basis of their expertise outside politics or of their celebrity, we must not give them such prominence as to afford undue political advantage, especially in the run-up to and during election periods. Where relevant, their political allegiance should be made clear to the audience.
We do not pay any contributor to the site, political or otherwise. Nor do we accept any form of payment in return for publishing any content by a political or otherwise person.
The way in which due impartiality is achieved among parties will vary, depending on the format, output and platform. Deciding respective levels of coverage for different political parties, who have varying levels of political support, requires, primarily, good and impartial editorial judgement, rather than mathematical formulae. Coverage will be given based on newsworthy information as it comes in.
When reporting the outcome of opinion polls, either conducted by Exit News or other third parties, the following applies:
The result of an opinion poll must not be the lead or headlines in the publication unless it has prompted a story which merits this being the case.
Language should not give greater credibility to polls than they deserve. For example polls do not prove or show, they suggest and indicate.
Exit must report the methodology used to conduct the poll, as well as the organisation that carried it out and commissioned it.
The outcome of a poll must be reported in the context of a trend which may include reference to other polls over a set period of time.
War, Terror, and Emergencies
Exit News has a responsibility to readers when reporting on war, acts of terror, natural disasters, states of emergency, or other similar situations. At times like this, more than ever it is necessary to publish trustworthy news and information. Due accuracy and impartiality must be applied and opinion should be limited and published separately. Context and analysis are required.
We must take care that our reporting doesn’t put individuals or groups at risk of unnecessary harm or additional distress.
We must consider our tone and use of language when reporting on matters involving loss of life and suffering. Some readers will have relatives or friends involved and we must be sympathetic to this. We must avoid causing unnecessary offense while ensuring we continue to convey the reality of events. We will also avoid the use of graphic images or videos.
When reporting war or national and international emergencies, it is important to give the source of the information and material from third parties, especially when claims are conflicting. For example, first estimates of casualties are often inaccurate. In cases where details cannot be verified, we should either report the range or refer to the source with the greatest authority.
When reporting demonstrations, disturbances and similar events, we should treat estimates of involvement with due scepticism, report wide disparities and name the sources of the figures. We aim to offer a comprehensive and impartial view of events.
During a civil emergency, we aim to deliver essential information in the interests of public safety across our services. We work with the relevant authorities to identify the kind of major incidents requiring a special response. However, we must make the appropriate editorial judgements to ensure accuracy and independence.
Our reporting of possible acts of terror should be timely and responsible, bearing in mind our requirement for due accuracy and impartiality. Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We should not use the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution.
We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, ‘gunman’, ‘kidnapper’, ‘insurgent’ and ‘militant’. We should not adopt other people’s language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.
It is not our place to identify victims.
The existence of social media means that we may have information from alleged victims, eyewitness accounts and images during or very soon after an incident. We need to subject this information to proper journalistic scrutiny to ensure its accuracy before using it.
When reporting stories relating to hijacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking or sieges we must take due account of advice from the police and other authorities about anything that, if reported, could exacerbate the situation. Occasionally they will ask us to withhold or even to include information. We will normally comply with a reasonable request, but we will not knowingly broadcast anything that is untrue.
Exit News will always put the safety and wellbeing of its journalists before the need to report on any instance of war, terror, or emergency. Physical and mental well being is a priority. In cases where it has occurred or cannot be avoided, we offer ongoing support via a multi-pronged approach to assist them in recovery.
The right to exercise freedom of thought, conscience and religion is set out in national and international acts and agreements, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. This includes the freedom to worship, teach, practise and observe.
Religious beliefs are central to many people’s lives and we use the proper degree of responsibility in respect to any content involving religion.
We do not promote or favour any religion or spiritual belief over another. We do not promote or condone any kind of cult. Reporting on religious or spiritual issues does not translate to support.
Re-use, Revisioning, and Permanent Availability
Exit News has been publishing content since 2015 and our archives are available on our website. During this time, we have evolved professionally, ethically, and in terms of the quality and objective of our work. We have also engaged new journalists and others have left. Our archive was created with the Exit News editorial standards in effect at the time of its production and do not always reflect the Editorial Guidelines today. Over time, standards and guidelines evolve.\
We may link to articles that were published during prior versions of the Editorial Guidelines. This should be considered when evaluating the content.
We will only remove or amend content in exceptional circumstances such as due to a legal request or if a breach of the law has been identified. Where content is amended, we will make notes where appropriate to notify the readers of this.
When referring to an article in the archive, it is important to note that the facts or details of that story may have changed since it was published. It is prudent to search for updates or more recent articles on the topic to ensure the reader is getting the full story. Exit publishes news with the facts available at that time, over days, weeks, and years this can change.
We must check whether archive content that is planned for repeat has been overtaken by events, including the known death of a contributor, the charging of an offender, or significant life changes. Where appropriate, information should be given, or content should be edited or removed.
Independence from External Interests
Exit News is founded in integrity, editorial independence and impartiality. In order to achieve this, our independence must not be compromised by outside interests and arrangements and we must retain editorial control over our content.
Exit does not accept advertising, sponsored posts, paid posts, or other kinds of paid content. Any references to specific products or services in any reporting is made without any financial incentive or benefit. In the cases of cultural articles that recommend places to visit or things to buy, such recommendations are only made based on the personal experience of the writer and are not paid for in any way. The writer may only recommend a product or service if they have experienced it first hand, without payment or receiving it for free.
Exit does not accept gifts, money, favours, or hospitality from anyone who might think it will give them a business or editorial advantage.
Exit does not and has not received any funding, favours, or other benefits or incentives from politicians, political parties, politicians as private individuals, businesses or corporations, governments, embassies, diplomatic missions, or NGOs that are not in the context of grant giving in order to provide independent journalism.
Conflicts of Interests
A potential conflict of interest arises when there is the possibility that an individual’s external activities or interests may affect, or be reasonably perceived as affecting, Exit's impartiality and its integrity, or risk damaging Exit’s reputation generally or the value of the Exit brand. Conflicts of interest may occur in any area of our work.
We respect the right for our journalists and contributors to have a private life and to follow whatever political, social, religious, cultural or other beliefs they may have. We do however insist that when reporting, they leave their interests aside. The only exception to this is opinion pieces where the fact is an opinion, must be clear.
It is a requirement that Exit staff must declare any personal interest that may impact their work. This requirement extends to contributors, staff, freelancers, and other staff employed by Exit on a permanent or contract basis. The onus to declare such interests, rests with the individual.
It is up to the editor to decide what action is needed in response to the declared potential conflict of interest. It is also up to them to monitor the situation on an ongoing basis in terms of how it may impact their area of work. These decisions will depend on the kind of content they create, their role, how they are involved, and the nature of their personal interests and external activities.
All individuals engaged by Exit News must declare and personal interests that could impact their work. Any changes in circumstance must be imparted to the Editor immediately. Freelancers are also required to declare any commercial interests that may impinge their work with Exit.
Journalists are also required to notify the editor of any potential personal or professional conflicts of interest when they are assigned to, or are following a story. It is the decision of the Editor how to proceed in these cases and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
We allow our journalists to express their opinions outside of Exit News, in the public domain. They are however bound by our ethical standards and breaches will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. We expect our team to act as the public face of Exit News at all time. While their public opinions do not represent the editorial line of Exit News, we expect them to abide by the law and remain professional. We reserve the right to undertake disciplinary procedures against staff in cases where we feel they have not done so.
Anyone is entitled to be a member of a political party or other organisation within the law. However, individuals in some roles need to consider whether public disclosure of such membership would risk undermining public confidence in their ability to fulfil some or all aspects of their job. Active involvement in a political party – or other public activity which demonstrates a political view – may give rise to a conflict of interest. This will be assessed with each employee on a case-by-case basis.
Exit News staff are permitted to appear on TV shows, radio broadcasts, documentaries, interviews, written publications, speak publicly, given public appearances, publish books, and to submit content to other platforms. They are expected to maintain the editorial guidelines of Exit News while doing this and to act ethically, not bringing Exit News into disrepute. Breaches will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and can be subject to disciplinary procedures.
Exit News staff are allowed to undertake academic roles. They are also allowed to participate in media training, give media training, speak at conferences or on panels, or during public consultations or forums, on matters relating to media, journalist, ethics, media freedom, or freedom of expression. They are expected to maintain the editorial guidelines of Exit News while doing this and to act ethically, not bringing Exit News into disrepute. Breaches will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and can be subject to disciplinary procedures.
External Relationships and Financing
We do not accept advertising or paid content in any format. Nor do we accept payment for writing about anything.
Exit News is financed by grants, donations, funds, and other financial contributions designed to enable independent and quality journalism. We do not accept any financial contribution from political parties or individuals, politically connected individuals or organisations, businesses, corporations, or anyone that we deem has a personal interest. The grants and funding Exit receives has no impact on the content that we publish or the editorial line that is taken.
We do not tell writers or contributors what to write, or what not to write. The only time an editor will interfere in what is published is if it is a mandatory referral or a situation where Ethical Guidelines need to be considered. Exit News does not enforce an editorial line on journalists or tell them to stay away from certain topics, political views, lines of investigation, or other.
Nor do we respond to threats from any internal or external third-party to take down, edit, or amend content. The only time this will occur is if we have made a mistake or violated our ethical or legal obligations.
As long as it is ethical, factual, and in line with Editorial Guidelines, it can be published.
We do not copy, reproduce, or republish any original work in its entirety without the expressed permission of the author. In such cases, which are rare, we make it clear where the content came from, who created it, and provide a link to the original. In cases of extracts we are clear where it is extracted from and we provide a link. In cases of reports on original content, we are clear where it has come from and we provide a link.
We do not use content of any kind without the correct permissions or attribution.
Exit News expects its journalists to be familiar with, and adhere to the principles laid out by the International Federation of Journalists. This applies to them whether they are a member of the union or not.
The guidelines can be found here.
These form additional standards that Exit News must comply with, although most are covered through our Editorial Guidelines.