1. INTRODUCTION

Roundbox Media operates The Hilltops Phoenix, covering Young, Harden and Boorowa across the South Western region of New South Wales, Australia. We are the local voice of the communities that we cover, with our news being completely free, and this will never change.

We act as the voice of our communities in print and digital form, and this allows us to communicate local news to all sections of our communities and reach as many people as possible.

In all of our dealings we will always aim to be fair and transparent, and conduct ourselves with the utmost integrity and factual accuracy.

This policy establishes minimum standards of journalistic behaviour, which falls in line with the values that we hold, as well as the action to be taken in the event of a complaint against our publications.

Application
The Policy applies to all Company journalists and contributors. This Policy co-exists with each journalist’s employment agreement or contract, and is enforceable in addition to these.

General principles
Company journalists must always consider the following during their practices of employment:

  • Is it legal?
  • Is it ethical?
  • Is it consistent with the Company’s values?
  • What would be the impact if your actions were reported in the media or your peers and family were to find out?
  • Is it in the best interests of the Company?
  • Would you be proud of your decision? If you are unsure about any of the above, please seek advice from your Manager.

2. INTERRACTION WITH STAKEHOLDERS

Respect
We will always show respect to our everyone in our day to day dealings, including colleagues, contributors, interviewees, customers and all other sources. We will always show consideration for their feelings and respect their will.

Integrity
We will always go about our work with honesty and transparency.We will act in a responsible and honest manner, and always hold ourselves to account and take responsibility for our actions.

3. ETHICAL JOURNALISTIC PRACTICES AND PROCEDURES

Declaring conflicts of interest
All of the Company’s journalists will avoid conflicts of interest, or perceived conflicts, between the Company’s and personal interests. Journalists must declare any actual or potential conflicts of interest and put a plan in place with their Manager as to how to avoid this. Where avoidance is not possible, the task at hand must not be pursued by that journalist.

Examples of conflicts of interests include:

  • Commercial relationships or dealings with friends or relatives
  • Secondary employment
  • Outside activities, including voluntary work and business activities
  • External board memberships
  • Personal relationships with Company clients, customers, partners or suppliers
  • Associations with, or interests in, other entities, including Company competitors.

Gifts and benefits You must not use your position with the Company to gain a gift or benefit from a third party in connection with your employment.

Cash gifts or bribes are not acceptable under any circumstances. All offers of gifts or benefits must be declared to the Manager, with the Manager to decide an appropriate course of action.

These may include: discounts, priority bookings, travel and accommodation, access to venues, retail or wholesale sales, restaurant bookings, real estate queues and upgrading of goods or services.

Ethics principles

  • Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
  • Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
  • Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
  • Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
  • Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
  • Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
  • Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
  • Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
  • Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
  • Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
  • Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
  • Do not plagiarise.
  • Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
  • Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors. This includes offering a retraction in the next print edition of the newspaper. All errors published online must be corrected immediately. All errors must be reported to the Manager and an appropriate solution reached.

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL MEDIA

The company is actively involved in its brand management, and is active on social media. The following policies must be adhered to to protect the reputation of the Company:

  • Do not speak publicly on behalf of the Company, unless authorised to do so. Do not publicly discuss or disclose confidential information, or portray your personal opinions as those of the Company in a public space or on social media.
  • Seek managerial approval for any presentations at public engagements.
  • Any inquiries related to the Company by another media organisation must be referred to the Manager or Company Director.
  • Your use of social media could potentially have a bearing on the reputation of the Company. You must not use social media in any way that will portray the Company negatively, cause it embarrassment, loss of reputation, loss of sales, or loss of confidence with any of its audience or stakeholders. The use of course language, inappropriate and offensive content on an employees’ personal social media pages is strictly prohibited.

4. FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

Fraud
Employees must not engage in any fraudulent activity, including misappropriation of finances, or commit any act that does cause or is likely to cause financial harm to the company.

Employees must never intentionally falsify or destroy business documents, or use company information for a personal financial advantage.

Bribery and corruption
You must not offer bribes to gain or retain business, including involvement of journalistic sources. Under no circumstance is it appropriate to accept any bribes for any purpose related to the performance of your employment.

Do not provide gifts to any government officials , including politicians, as they are often subject to strict rules around accepting these. This could be seen as attempting to influence politicians and their decision making whilst in public office.

5. CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY

Journalists have a large degree of trust that comes with their position. Journalists must not use confidential information of the Company or any of their sources for personal gain, or share it outside of the Company, without authorisation from the Company Director.

You must handle all information provided to you in a way that does not breach anyones’ confidence.

Confidential information may include (but is not limited to) financial information,strategic plans, employee and personnel information, marketinginitiatives, customer lists, terms of trade, or internal communications. This policy still applies to journalists that resign from the Company.

6. BREACHING AND REPORTING BREACHES OF THIS POLICY

This policy sets the minimum standards of practice expected of all journalists. Any breaches could necessitate disciplinary action. The company will determine this according to individual circumstances of a breach. Possible disciplinary action s include (but are not limited to): counselling, warnings , suspension, and termination of employment.

Employees are encouraged to report breaches they witness.

Speak to your Manager
If you become aware of any behaviour that breaches this policy, please inform your Manager immediately.

Reporting financial malpractice
If you learn of a breach that involves financial malpractice or fraud, this should immediately be reported to the Director of the Company.

7. COMPLAINTS HANDLING PROCEDURES

This section outlines complaints, disputes or problems that are not able to be resolved between the parties directly involved, against a Company journalist or employee.

The Company acknowledges that problems can sometimes arise which may cause a customer or member of our audience to feel aggrieved. Anyone affected is encouraged to talk about their concerns and can be assured that grievances will be investigated in a timely, professional and confidential manner.

The Company aims to foster good relations and well-being amongst its customers and audiences. This policy has been developed to formally and clearly outline the procedures to be followed by Company employees if a customer reports a grievance. The Company fully supports the rights of people to express, or have expressed on their behalf, grievances on any subject relating to the Company and/or people associated with the Company.

People have a right to express a grievance, have a satisfactory hearing of that grievance and be assisted to work towards resolution.

The Company is committed to viewing grievances and the resolution of them as a learning process whereby it can develop better practices both towards our customers and our employees. Grievances may be lodged by an individual or by a group of individuals.

All discussions of grievances will be confined to those who can assist in their resolution.

No party shall seek to escalate or inflame an issue or grievance but shall address the situation positively and attempt to seek a speedy and effective resolution under this policy.

Any form of complaint or grievance should, if possible be resolved quickly at the lowest level to avoid any unnecessary escalation or the need for affected parties to go seek a resolution outside of the Company (in our environment, the Australian Press Council or the Department of Fair Trading/ACCC).

If the person making the complaint is not satisfied with the resolution, or the way in which it was handled, the Company supports that person’s right to take their grievance to a higher level, or can raise their grievance with an outside agency.

8. PROCEDURE

  • Ensure confidentiality. Only the people directly involved in making or investigating a complaint will have access to information about the complaint.
  • Engage in unbiased discussions. Both sides will have a chance to put their case. All relevant information will be collected and considered.
  • Avoid victimisation. No action will be taken against anyone for making a complaint or assisting someone to make a complaint.
  • Resolve situations in a timely manner. All complaints will be dealt with as quickly as possible. The affected party and the Company will attempt to resolve the matter at the workplace level, including, but not limited to:
  • The persons who are parties to the grievance should first meet and confer on the matter to try and resolve the dispute so that both disputants have the opportunity to change their behaviour.
  • If the matter is not resolved at such a meeting, then the complaint may be referred by either party to a more senior management if possible.
  • If the grievance relates to an incident(s) of sexual harassment, discrimination or bullying, it should be immediately referred to senior management for immediate investigation.

Management to take the following steps:
a) Decide if they are the right person to deal with the complaint or they will refer the complaint to the Director of the Company:

  • They may be biased because of their relationship with the person making the complaint or with the person the complaint is about, or
  • If they do not have enough authority to handle the particular complaint. b) If they ARE the right person to deal with the complaint, they will explain:
  • The grievance handling procedure, including what may happen if there is enough evidence to support the complaint or what will happen if there is not enough evidence to support the complaint. • Where the parties can seek further assistance if they are not happy with the way that the Company is dealing with the complaint, or
  • Other external assistance/options for more information. Take a written record of the complaint. a) Initially the complaint can be made verbally but if a formal process is to be undertaken and followed through then the Company will obtain/make a written record of all conversations relating to the grievance. The Company will talk to the other party/ies involved separately and impartially in the grievance to obtain their side of the story. The Company will tell the affected party what the other party/ ies have said and discuss what should be done to resolve the complaint. All parties must cooperate with the grievance handling procedure to ensure a prompt resolution.

Take appropriate action If the complaint is substantiated, the following action/actions may be appropriate:

  • A written apology
  • An official warning
  • Counselling
  • Demotion (if applicable), or Dismissal If the complaint is not substantiated, the following action/actions may be appropriate:
  • Training for all staff on relevant issues, the Company ‘s code of conduct, work (occupational) health and safety obligations, and other relevant policies
  • Keeping a closer watch on the behaviour of employees. If complaints involving the parties to the grievance are substantiated:
  • The Company will attempt to try to mediate the dispute between the concerned parties either internally or through the services of an external mediation provider.
  • The person managing the grievance will conduct periodical assessments and follow-ups with both parties of the effectiveness of the agreed strategies. Both parties to the grievance are required to make every possible effort to ensure sure that whatever strategies have been agreed on to resolve the dispute, take effect and continue working in the best interests of each other and the Company.

Appeals
a) If the affected party thinks that the grievance procedure was not followed properly, they may escalate their inquiry. This person will need to investigate the way that the complaint was handled. If they think it was handled properly, they will not take any further action. If they think it was NOT handled properly they will organise for the complaint to be looked at again. The review will be carried out by someone other than the person who first managed the complaint.
b) Agree to allow either party to refer the matter to mediation if the matter cannot be resolved at the workplace level and agree that if either party refers the matter to mediation, both parties will participate in the mediation process in good faith towards resolving the dispute;
c) Agree not to commence an action unless: The party initiating the action has genuinely attempted to resolve the dispute at the workplace level and mediation has not been successful.
d) No party may appoint a legally qualified person to represent them in any stage of the grievance proceedings unless the legally qualified person is an employee of one of the party’s to the grievance or where the other party agrees to the appointment.

External assistance
If a complaint has not been properly dealt with by the Company, we recognise that as the complainant you may wish to take it to an external agency to see if they can help.

CONTACT THE PHOENIX

91 Boorowa Street, Young NSW 2594

Editorial

Phone 0474 159 981

editor@hilltopsphoenix.com.au

Sales

Phone 0474 159 981

sales@hilltopsphoenix.com.au

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We are always looking for new articles of interest to the local community.

Please feel free to submit an article for possible inclusion in a future issue.

To submit an article, click here to use our online article submission form.

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