Rules of the editorial office

Политика редакции

Артем Марков / Дарья Светлова / «Бабель»

The Babel team’s goal is to be the voice of common sense in a world that seriously lacks it. We are capable of this because we are guided by the following principles:

  • We listen to everyone, talk to everyone and correctly reflect the views of all sides (including those whom we may consider enemies of our country).
  • We are accurate and impartial. We are equally critical of all our heroes but treat them respectfully. We do not confuse journalism with political and social activism. We have our stances and opinions (because we are human beings), but they have no impact on how we write articles. We monitor conflicts of interest and, if necessary, openly point them out.
  • We write about people, not abstract phenomena (organizations, reforms, companies or trends).
  • We bring information that can be helpful in daily life.
  • We treat all events, companies, and people with equal skepticism. This applies to persons we dislike, as well as to those we admire.

First of all, we seek recognition and respect from readers, and only then ― from friends, relatives, and colleagues. The main trait of our reader is that he/she is educated and smart. New type of smart or old type of smart. “Smart” means for us that he or she does not like populism and populists. Loves personal freedom. Does not count on handouts from the state. Understands that the rich people are not necessarily thieves and an open economy benefits everyone. Our readers are not necessarily familiar with the intricacies of the political process. They may not remember the Orange Revolution but always strive to know “where it all began”. Most of all, they are interested in people, their characters, and motives.

We use an equal and respectful intonation in our articles and refrain from intense emotions. We can be ironic, but we are not angry, do not ridicule anyone, and do not shout anything out. We have no party affiliation. We don’t blindly support neither Zelenskyy nor Poroshenko (Ukrainian political rivals; both are pro-European). We are neither right-leaning nor left-leaning, neither reformist nor reactionist. We are for the facts, logic, and common sense.

In an ideal world, a Babel journalist does not join parties, picket, write appeals, and wage holy wars against some politicians or businessmen. Unlike activists, journalists have no right to do something that may cause the reader to think they are biased in a particular conflict.

In reality, this is not possible, especially in Ukraine, where a new revolution occurs every four years. Here journalists are forced to go to rallies defending the freedom of speech or participate in the Equality Marches for the rights of LGBT+ people.

It is important to remember that journalists’ actions lead to conclusions about the media reputation, even if they concern personal matters. Therefore, Babel journalists do not participate in mass gatherings and do not join movements that contradict the media’s mission and spirit. A Babel journalist, for example, can report on the Equality March. He or she can go to the Equality March as an individual, carrying a poster. But under no circumstances can a journalist try to disrupt the Equality March.

We monitor conflicts of interest. For example, if a Babel journalist went to the Equality March defending LGBT rights, he could not write a report on this March. If a journalist doesn’t believe in a free market economy, it’s better not to cover economics and business. If the journalist is an orthodox believer, he or she cannot write about same-sex marriages. If the journalist’s best friend is involved in a dispute, then it’s better not to write about the controversy, except with direct reservations about a conflict of interest.

The Babel journalist’s direct responsibility is to monitor conflicts of interest, report them to the editor, and, if necessary, clearly point them out in the articles.

General recommendations we follow when using social networks

  1. The rules of ethics for private communication and social networks are the same. Don’t say anything you may regret later. Do not write anything that will call into question your personal or professional reputation or the reputation of the media outlet.
  2. Always presume that everything you write on social networks will have thousands of reposts, and everyone will see it even if you set your posts to be visible only to your friends. No one canceled screenshots and account hacks.
  3. Do not feed the trolls. In particular, do not quarrel with readers who approached you with the sole purpose of amplifying your anger or proving at any cost that you’re a fool. You can’t prove anything to anyone on the Internet.
  4. The news you get should be published on the website first, and only then on your Twitter/Facebook/Telegram.
  5. Don’t spread fakes. Never repost an article you haven’t read. Never repost an article you aren’t sure is true. Never repost an article with distorted facts or quotes ― unless you have clarified them and pointed out the mistakes. If you repost an author’s column or opinion that you do not agree with, be sure to state this directly.
  6. Factcheck everything you read on social media.
  7. If you collect information on social networks to publish it ― you have to introduce yourself as a journalist.
  8. Never bring out editorial arguments. We act openly and if possible, resolve any conflicts immediately. If you feel that you have been wronged, say this directly. Always assume that no one in the editorial office has bad intentions.
  9. Use common sense.

On the internet it’s impossible to separate work life from personal one. Everything that a Babel journalist writes in a private account will be perceived by the reader as a Babel position. Even if it is stated in capital letters that this is the journalist’s personal opinion.

Therefore, our editorial standards also apply to our personal accounts. We monitor conflicts of interest. We do not get into disputes with newsmakers, readers, and colleagues. We avoid citing anonymous sources. We check dates, events, numbers, names, and titles. Most importantly ― we do not get personal even if the opponent did it first.

We support any statements, conclusions, and assessments with facts, figures, or experts’ opinions. We select competent and independent experts. In the article we mention all circumstances affecting the expert’s objectivity (for example, if he/she worked in the company whose work we need to cover).

We provide an opportunity to speak to all stakeholders of any event or conflict. We are obliged to do our best to ensure that all key participants in the event give us a comment, even if they are reluctant or try to avoid the conversation. The words “did not respond to the letter”, “failed to contact”, “refused to talk” are a defeat.

We avoid any monetary or non-monetary connections that may affect the objectivity of our work or even give that impression. We are careful about corporate hospitality. We do not refuse invitations to music, theater, sports, or other events, but we do not regularly accept such gifts from the same company or person. We do not visit restaurants at the expense of businesses or our sources. We do not go somewhere at someone else’s expense. Exceptions are possible but free of any obligations (for example, we don’t make any promises to those who pay for the trip).

We double-check everything, including what people tell us about themselves. If the hero of our story calls himself a “multiple winner of international competitions”, we check this information. Checking facts, figures, names of companies and organizations should always be the first thing a reporter does.

We correct all factual errors that we have found ourselves or were pointed out by our readers. We do not fight with such readers. On the contrary, we find out the details, double-check them, correct the information if necessary and thank those readers, even if they are not very polite to us. It’s important to remember that we do not argue with our readers on the Internet even if we are one hundred percent sure that we are right.