Editorial guide

The Shot's editorial policies

As one of Australia’s few truly independent sources of news and opinion The Shot takes its responsibilities as a publisher seriously.

The purpose of this document is to set out how The Shot seeks to uphold its rights, values, and responsibilities, both to our readers and to ourselves. It is a guide for our readers and supporters, so that they know what we stand for and how we operate.

Just as importantly, it serves as a guide for The Shot’s writers as a statement of our values, principles and responsibilities as a publisher.

We’re still growing and learning, which is why this is a living document that will be updated as we seek new ways to reach our audience, now and into the future.

Portions of this code of ethics have borrowed from and been inspired by industry peers.

THE SPARKNOTES

Doing straight reporting the way it’s always been done is (a) not what we’re good at, (b) really expensive, (c) time consuming, and (d) a bit dull. 

There are serious problems with the way news is reported in these batshit crazy times. 

The voices in the media represent a narrow ideological range. They stretch from meek centrism (“Economists caution grandma sacrifice might not yield economic boost”), to the extreme right (“We should sacrifice all the grandmas for the economy”), to the Murdoch press (“The Blood God demands grandma blood!”). 

Fond of our grandmas, and life in general for that matter, The Shot’s aim is to jump in at the other end of this spectrum and drag the Overton Window out of the gutter.

One way we’d do this would be not using typical media language, which subtly normalizes the rot. No saying, “This was a more presidential Donald Trump” after he managed to string a sentence together. No describing a protestor killed by a police officer as “dying from a police bullet”. What, did he fall on the bullet?! Agency matters. In contrast we’ll just say “cops killed, possibly murdered, a protestor,” and then link to an NWA song chosen not very randomly. Being able to discuss the issues in a way that doesn’t make the average Australian want to claw their eyes out is, we believe, a supreme public service, and far outweighs the importance of stuffy language and hyphenating the word ‘cunt’.

The upside to describing things as they actually are without couching the language in newspeak is stories end up being grimmly funny, because everything is really fucking weird right now. But beneath the humourous exterior we will always seek to deliver important facts to our audience.

THE PURPOSE OF THE SHOT

The primary purpose of The Shot is to fill the gap in Australian news and commentary space caused by the corporatisation of Australia’s media landscape. 

We seek to inform and entertain in equal parts. We aim to put information and events in context so that average everyday Australians can better understand the world around them, and the hidden biases present in the reporting of the traditional news media.

This document is a set of principles, not rules. It will act as a guide when we need to make difficult decisions, but each decision will be made by a team of individual writers, producers, editors and publishers.

OUR RESPONSIBILITIES

Fact vs opinion 

The Shot believes in strong opinions, which we will not shy away from. Like many modern media outlets we are conscious of the fact that the idea of presenting “two sides” to an issue can often do more harm than good. When considering our reporting, we will seek to highlight not just a range of opinions, but rather we will give weight to those which on analysis appear to have the most merit. Likewise we do not believe in giving voice to those which would further belittle marginalised groups. We will always stand against racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination against marginalised and under-represented minorities. We will always believe in equality for Indigenous Australians, refugees, migrants, women, and minority communities across the board. We believe in climate change, and will always advocate for stronger action to save the planet. These values will inform the decisions we make as a publication.

Similarly we do not believe in the hard distinction between news and opinion when journaling issues that involve and affect real people. The notion that reporting on events and the people affected by those events should be separated has in many cases led to situations where the individual is overlooked in pursuit of political or social agendas, and this is a gap in the media landscape we seek to correct.

Corrections

Like every publisher, we will make mistakes. When we do, we will seek to correct those mistakes in an appropriate and considered manner. When a significant error is made, we will consider various means of correction depending on the severity, from additional in-body text, to social media corrections, to a further article correcting the record. We may or may not remove articles in their entirety if we believe it to be in our subscribers interests.

While we believe that our writers should be independent from the will of the audience, subscribers, or advertisers, we welcome complaints and requests for corrections, which can be made to [email protected] or via our website’s contact form. We aim to respond to all valid emails for corrections within a week.

Where it is right to do so, we will apologise for our mistakes.

Division between business and editorial

The Shot is a public supporter-funded business with additional financing and resources provided by Chaser Digital Pty Ltd. The Shot will, on occasion, provide communications and opinion on behalf of employees of Chaser Digital Pty Ltd and its subsidiaries, as part of the company’s day to day reporting.

Declarations

If The Shot stands to make a commercial gain from all or part of a piece of content as part of a commercial arrangement with a third party (not including subsidiaries of Chaser Publishing or Chaser Digital), we will declare it to our readers.

Division Of Responsibility

Stories published on The Shot are a collaboration between writers and editors. Both of those roles bears some responsibility for the final outcome of a piece of content.

Ultimate responsibility for all content published on The Shot rests with the Publisher Charles Firth, and you should direct all lawsuits at him.

Responsibilities To Freelance Writers

When commissioning freelance content, we will always seek to act in the best interests of our freelancers, and will never deliberately put them in harm’s way.

We will be upfront about the fees we offer freelancers, and we will always strive to pay our freelancers promptly.

Reporting In The Public Interest

When determining whether to pursue or publish a story, The Shot will always seek to balance the public interest against the potential for that story to cause damage to the individuals or groups involved with the story.

Keeping Our Readers Safe

At times, we will need to report on serious issues that may affect our readers, such as suicide, domestic violence, sexual assault, mental health issues, or substance abuse. We take this responsibility seriously, and will aim to link to resources to help those affected, and will seek to provide a content warning at the top of the article at the author’s discretion.

Independent Verification

When publishing information that was first reported elsewhere, we will aim to judge the quality of the source and weigh up the likelihood of the information’s veracity based on the publisher’s track record. If a correction or retraction has been made by a third party publisher relating to information repeated or republished by The Shot, we will seek to amend that information within 24 hours if contacted at [email protected]

Anonymous Sourcing, Pseudonyms, Source Protection

We will judge the use of anonymous sources in stories based on the public benefit versus the potential damage that could be caused by revealing said source(s). We will not disclose the identity of anonymous sources to third parties unless explicitly required to by law.

Bylines

Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, writers should be published under their full, legal names.

Some material may be published under ‘The Shot’ pseudonym relating to the operation, editorial or business interests of The Shot.

Copyright

The Shot will always seek to abide by copyright laws, and will aim to avoid using content without obtaining permission unless it is judged to be fair use or utilised in order to provide critical comment, parody, or satire relating to the content. Where possible, we will strive to adequately credit the original creator of a piece of content.

LEGAL & ETHICS

Court reporting

In general, reporting on courtroom proceedings should be avoided unless the reporter was in the courtroom themselves. Where that isn’t possible, Junkee will always seek to independently confirm information, and will rely on multiple respected news organisations to guide its coverage, while always providing adequate credit to those organisations.

Comment moderation and respectful debate

Junkee has strong opinions on a number of issues, and we respect the fact that our audience does as well. We will always seek to promote respectful debate on our platforms and social media channels, while acknowledging that we cannot possibly control every element of the conversation surrounding our content, or the issues we cover.

We will not tolerate hatred or bigotry of any kind, and we reserve the right to delete or refuse to publish any comment on any of our platforms for any reason.

Comment or copy approval, promotion of artists etc

In general, we do not provide the opportunity for copy or comment approval to the subjects of our stories, and we will not share the drafts of our stories before they are published. We will sometimes seek to clarify a comment or quote, and where necessary will put the broad outlines of a story to the subject of that story in order to ensure that what we are publishing is fair and accurate.

There are some exceptions to the above rules, such as when a story deals with a potentially vulnerable person, or a sensitive issue. These exceptions should be discussed between writers and editors, and editors will have the final say on whether a source will be given copy or comment approval.

Allegations and right of reply

We will always seek to give the subject of a story or comment a right of reply. Where we have not received a reply, we will declare it in our copy. Where we have not been able to give the subject of a story a chance to reply (for example, during a live breaking news event), we will make that clear, and will update the story if/when that person provides a comment.

Graphic, vulgar and/or adult content

The Shot aims to increase the accessibility of its reporting with language that reflects the common spoken word across suburban and regional Australia. We accept that the average Australian has a more liberal attitude towards profanity, sex, drugs and nudity than our traditional media outlets, and that is reflected in our stories.

Interviews, consent, direct quotes

The Shot’s writers should always get clear consent from an interview subject before recording them.

It is never acceptable to change a quote in such a way that it alters a quote’s meaning. It is sometimes acceptable to lightly alter a quote for clarity or to better textualise the spoken word, if said changes do no affect the meaning and general flow of the quote.

Platforms for extremists

Choosing not to publish something is often as valuable and important as choosing to publish it. At The Shot, we believe there are many, many issues to which there are not “two sides”. We won’t give a platform to racism, misogyny or discrimination. Where we deem it necessary to publish someone with terrible views, we should make immediately clear that we disagree with those views, and where possible, we should refute them with facts.

Conflicts of interest

Where possible, conflicts of interest for the business or any individual Shot employee should be avoided. Where it cannot be avoided, the conflict of interest should be noted within the copy.

 

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