Earlier today I mentioned that I had posed some questions about the new Herald and Weekly Times policy, and how it sat with the News Limited Code that has been the subject of all the dust ups over the last few days.
I have received the following from Genevieve Brammal, the HWT’s Corporate Communications Director.
To answer your questions:
1. Why has HWT updated its policy now?
Several months ago, following the appointment in December of our social media editor (the first in a News Limited metropolitan newsroom), HWT decided it was time to update the basic social media policy we had introduced for our editorial staff last October (known then as the Public Forums Policy). We also thought it timely to rework HWT’s External Media Policy, which governs the responsibilities, processes and accountabilities for journalists who represent our brands in other media.
We took the opportunity to also update the Professional Conduct Policy and create a hard-copy booklet containing all three policies. We have called this the HWT Editorial Code of Conduct, although it is also highlighted that these policies are among a raft of policies (numbering close to 50) that govern employment at HWT / News Limited.
As part of a comprehensive launch to staff, we took the opportunity to redesign our editorial Intranet homepage to make finding these policies easier and more efficient. The MEAA’s Code of Conduct and the Australian Press Council’s Statement of Principles have also been placed on the Intranet with the HWT Editorial Code of Conduct.
The booklet and the updated Intranet site were launched today with an all-staff briefing by editor in chief Phil Gardner.
This entire launch had been planned to roll out earlier but unavoidable events (such Phil Gardner’s untimely winter cold and annual leave) meant it could not happen until today.
The booklet has been given to each member of staff and will supersede the Professional Conduct Policy which is currently part of the HWT induction pack for new editorial staff.
2. How does this code sit with the group wide code, and will it be made to apply to all mastheads nationally?
The HWT Professional Conduct Policy (attached) is not substantially different from the News Limited one. Nothing in it is contrary to the News Limited policy. Having been updated most recently, it is just more current and reflects the most recent News Corp policies that have been issued over past months. It also references our social media and external media policies (which are specific to HWT).
News Limited regularly reviews its policies and any updates or amendments that have been made by specific sites in the interim are taken into account when this occurs.