Dated: 14 August, 2012
This Code of Conduct mainly represents the aspirations and
high standards that Geo management and Geo team wish to uphold
professionally. Being an internal standard yardstick, this
Code or any part of it, may never be used as a basis to pursue
a claim against any company of Geo Group, any member of Geo
management or any journalist working in Geo Group, if such
claim is otherwise not maintainable under general provisions
of law. Adoption of this Code of Conduct will neither increase
nor decrease the legal obligations of Geo Group companies
and members of Geo team under the laws of Pakistan.
D) Employee Handbook 1
These guidelines generally apply to all members of the news
and editorial departments; whose work directly affects the
content of the channel and even includes those on leaves of
absence. Examples given in this document are illustrative
for better understanding. Any similarity with actual events
is purely coincidental.
1. ETHICAL JOURNALISM
Introduction, Scope & Purpose
i. The scope
of these guidelines includes: anchors, newscasters, hosts,
reporters, editors, editorial writers, photographers, picture
editors, art directors, artists, designers, graphics editors
and researchers. This group of professional journalists
is what this text means by “TeamGEO members”
or “staff members.”
ii. GEO believes
beyond question that its staff shares the values these guidelines
are intended to protect. In the past GEO has resolved differences
of view over applying these values amiably through discussion,
almost without exception. GEO has every reason to believe
that pattern will continue. Nevertheless, the organization
views any deliberate violation of these guidelines as a
serious offense that may lead to disciplinary action; potentially
including dismissal, subject to the terms of any applicable
collective bargaining agreement.
fundamental purpose is to protect the impartiality and neutrality
of GEO and the integrity of its content and brand. In many
instances, merely applying that purpose with common sense
will point to the ethical course. Sometimes the answer is
self-evident: simply asking oneself whether a course of
action might damage the GEO’s reputation is often
enough to gauge whether the action is appropriate.
staff member is expected to read this document carefully
and to think about how it might apply to his or her duties.
A lack of familiarity with its provisions cannot excuse
a violation; to the contrary, it makes the violation worse.
The provisions presented here can offer only broad principles
and some examples. Our world changes constantly, sometimes
dramatically. No written document could anticipate every
possibility. Thus we expect staff members to consult their
supervisors and Director News and or Executive Director
News if they have any doubts about any particular situation
or opportunity covered by this document. In most cases an
exchange of e-mails should suffice.
v. Thus this
handbook is not an exhaustive compilation of all situations
that may give rise to an actual or perceived conflict of
interest as well as standards that define our editorial
vi. GEO reserves
the right to modify and expand the guidelines from time
to time, as appropriate.
The authority to interpret and apply these guidelines is
vested in department heads and ranking editors, most notably
in Director News and or Executive Director News.
They may delegate that duty to their ranking assistants, but
they remain responsible for decisions made under their official
a) Third Party/Part time Engagements
GEO freely acknowledges that outside appearances can enhance
the reputation of its stories and programs and serve GEO’s
brand and organizational interests. Nevertheless, no TeamGEO
member may appear before an outside group if the appearance
could reasonably create an actual or apparent conflict of
interest or undermine public trust in GEO’s impartiality.
This will be a serious violation as GEO’s credibility
will be adversely affected.
No TeamGEO member who takes part in a broadcast, Webcast,
public forum or panel discussion may write or edit news stories
about that event.
Speeches and other outside endeavors by TeamGEO members,
paid or unpaid, should not imply that they carry the endorsement
of GEO (unless they do). To the contrary, the TeamGEO member
should gracefully remind the audience that the views expressed
are his or her own. Outside commitments should not interfere
with the speaker’s
responsibilities inside GEO.
Speeches, tours, seminars, writing assignments and beepers-
contributions of any kind are discouraged due to potential
conflict of interest as well as time management constraints.
Thus no TeamGEO member should agree to a third party part
time assignment schedule without approval from a Director
News and CEO/MD. Direct supervisor/Director News must agree
first based on past performance as well as conflict of interest
as well as future workload and time management capacity and
then make formal recommendation to CEO/MD.
b) Collaboration and Testimonials
TeamGEO members may not collaborate in ventures involving
individuals or organizations that figure or are likely to
figure in coverage they provide, edit, and package or supervise.
Among other things, this prohibition applies to collaborating
in writing books, pamphlets, reports, scripts, scores or any
other material and in making photographs or creating artwork
of any sort.
Except in reviews or columns aired in GEO/Jang Group or on
its Web site or appropriately voiced in authorized public
appearances, TeamGEO members may not offer endorsements, testimonials
or promotional blurbs for books, films, television
programs or any other programs, products or ventures.
c) Voting, Campaigns and Public
No newsroom or editorial employee may do anything that damages
GEO’s reputation for
strict neutrality in reporting on politics and government.
In particular, no one may wear campaign buttons or display
any other sign of political partisanship while on the job.
Media persons have no place on the playing fields of politics.
Staff members are entitled to vote, but they must do nothing
that might raise questions about their professional neutrality
or that of GEO. In particular, they may not campaign for,
demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts
to enact legislation. They may not wear campaign buttons or
themselves display any other insignia of partisan politics.
No TeamGEO member may seek public office anywhere. Seeking
or serving in public office plainly violates the professional
detachment expected of a journalist. It poses a risk of having
the TeamGEO member’s political views imputed to GEO,
and it can sow a suspicion of favoritism in GEO’s political
coverage when one of its staff is an
TeamGEO members may not march or rally in support of public
causes or movements, sign ads taking a position on public
issues, or lend their name to campaigns, benefit dinners or
similar events if doing so might reasonably raise doubts about
their ability or GEO’s ability to function as neutral
observers in covering the news. TeamGEO members must keep
in mind that neighbors and other observers commonly see them
as representatives of GEO.
d) Representing GEO
TeamGEO members may appear from time to time on radio and
television programs or write newspaper articles devoted to
public affairs, but they should avoid expressing views that
go beyond what they would be allowed to say in GEO. Opinion
writers and commentators enjoy more leeway than others in
speaking publicly because their business is expressing opinions.
GEO nevertheless expects them to consider carefully the forums
in which they appear and to protect the standards and impartiality
of the GEO as a whole. As a general rule immediate supervisor
must have prior knowledge and give consent to this activity.
Depending on circumstances, the TeamGEO member may have to
or herself from certain coverage or even move to a job unrelated
to the activities in question.
GEO’s good name does not belong to any of us. No one
has a right to expropriate it for private purposes. TeamGEO
members may not use GEO identification cards for purposes
not connected with GEO employment. Cards may not be used to
obtain special treatment or advantage from governmental, commercial
or other organizations (except when
the card is required for a benefit available to all GEO Company
employees by virtue of its foundation’s charitable relationships,
such as free admission to the Museums).
TeamGEO members may not use company stationery, business
cards, forms or other materials for any purpose except the
business of the GEO.
TeamGEO members must not disclose confidential information
about the operations, policies or plans of GEO or its corporate
affiliates. Department heads may authorize other TeamGEO members
to comment publicly on policies or plans within the TeamGEO
members’ areas of responsibility and expertise. If staff
members are approached by other media or other outsiders to
discuss GEO content or policy, they should refer the questioners
to the President of the Network, anyone delegated by him or
the CEO, or the corporate communications department- who are
the only authorities to represent GEO formally on its policy.
TeamGEO members are free to discuss their own activities
in public, provided their comments do not create an impression
that they lack journalistic impartiality or speak for GEO.
None of these restrictions should be interpreted as barring
a TeamGEO member from responding openly and honestly to any
reasonable inquiry from a viewer about that TeamGEO member’s
If a viewer asks for a correction, that request should be
passed promptly to a supervisor/[email protected] If the request
threatens legal action or appears to be from a lawyer representing
a client, the complaint should be promptly referred to the
legal department through a department head.
e) Disclosure of Possible Conflicts
Any TeamGEO member who sees a potential for conflict or a
threat to the network’s reputation in the activities
of spouse, friends or relatives must discuss the situation
with his or her supervising editor. In some cases, disclosure
is enough. But if GEO considers the problem serious, the TeamGEO
member may have to withdraw from certain coverage. Sometimes
an assignment may have to be modified or a beat changed. In
a few instances, a staff member may have to move to a different
department — from business and financial news, say,
to the culture desk — to avoid the appearance of conflict.
Although this policy necessarily imposes restraints, GEO
has no wish to intrude upon the private lives of its staff
members and their families. Nothing in this document seeks
to prohibit a companion, spouse or other relative of a TeamGEO
member from taking part in any political, financial, commercial,
religious or civic activity. GEO understands that friends
and relatives of its staff have every right to pursue full
and active lives, personally and professionally. If restrictions
are necessary, they fall on GEO employee. But any attempt
to disguise a TeamGEO member’s participation in prohibited
activity by using a relative’s name or any other alias
constitutes a violation.
f) Personal Benefit Ahead of
Readers and Viewers
Though TeamGEO members must necessarily accept certain limits
on their freedom to invest, this policy leaves a broad range
of investments open to them. Any TeamGEO member, regardless
of assignment, is free to own diversified mutual funds, money
market funds and other diversified investments that the reporter
or editor cannot control. No TeamGEO member may own stock
or have any other financial interest in a company, enterprise
or industry that figures or is likely to figure in coverage
that he or she provides, edits, packages or supervises regularly.
TeamGEO members may not buy or sell securities or make other
investments in anticipation of forthcoming stories that originate
with GEO. In general, TeamGEO members must refrain from acting
on such information before public disclosure.
g) Personal Relations with
Relationships with sources require the utmost in sound judgment
and self discipline to prevent the fact or appearance of partiality.
Cultivating sources is an essential skill, often
practiced most effectively in informal settings outside of
normal business hours. Yet staff members, especially those
assigned to beats, must be sensitive that personal relationships
with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance.
And conversely staff members must be aware that sources are
eager to win our good will for reasons of
h) Accepting Hospitality/Gifts
GEO pays the expenses when its representatives entertain
news sources (including government officials) or travel to
cover them. In some business situations, it may be unavoidable
to accept a meal paid by a news source. Whenever practical,
however, the reporter should suggest dining where GEO can
pay. Staff members may not accept free or discounted transportation
and lodging except where special circumstances give us little
or no choice. This however should be cleared with supervisor
If any TeamGeo member accepts a gift or travel offer from
a source the TeamGeo member will declare this to his/her departmental
head and HR and seek advice on appropriate action. Geo reserves
the right to ask TeamGeo member not to accept the gift/travel
request and to return it politely with a policy letter (see
below for templates).
Sample letter declining a gift
Your recent gift came as a pleasant surprise. I appreciate
But the gift puts me in an awkward position. The GEO Network
bars its reporters and editors from accepting anything of
value from the people or groups they cover. GEO does not want
to risk the perception that it will cover a subject more thoroughly
or skew its
coverage of controversial subjects because interested parties
have expressed appreciation for its efforts.
So I must return your gift with thanks. I hope you understand
our position, and I thank you for your thoughtfulness.
Sample letter declining an unsolicited award
Your recent letter informing me that I’d been selected
to receive an
award from XXXXXXXX came as a pleasant surprise. I appreciate
the sentiment behind the award.
But your decision puts me in an awkward position. GEO Network
bars its reporters and editors from accepting awards conferred
by groups that have an interest in the subjects covered by
the award recipients. GEO does not want to risk the perception
that it will
cover a subject more thoroughly or skew its coverage of controversial
subjects because interested parties have applauded its efforts.
So I must decline your award with thanks. I hope you and
your colleagues understand our position.
Thank you again for your kind words.
TeamGEO Social Media Guide
Every day, people
discuss, debate and embrace Geo News and our brands in hundreds
of online conversations on Social Media. These are conversations
supported by online tools.
Social Media unlike the broadcast medium’s target audience
is not just a demographic of people, anymore. The people who
use social media are real people who use it and their social
interactions. To connect with them you need to understand
Remember: Relationships are more powerful than marketing.
Aim for a target: Are you going mostly for awareness? Influence?
We must recognize the vital importance of participating in
these online conversations and are committed to ensuring that
we participate in online social media the right way.
These Online Social Media Principles have been developed
to help empower our concerned departments and our colleagues,
to participate in this new frontier of marketing and communications,
represent our Company, and share the optimistic and positive
spirits of our company and brands.
To achieve sustainable growth online, our shared goals and
values individually and collectively must guide us:
a) To encourage tolerance in society ?
b) To create an enabling environment for thought and change
c) To promote “Public Interest” as ultimately
the viewer is our employer ?
d) Geo Pakistan. To make our slogan Geo Pakistan meaningful.
e) To speak the truth with accuracy ?
f) To be impartial through diversity of opinion ?
g) To bring the world to Pakistan and Pakistan to the world
h) To value feedback and accountability ?
i) To encourage positive activism
These Online Social Media Principles are intended to outline
how these values should be demonstrated in the online social
media space and to guide your participation in this area,
both when you are participating personally, as well as when
you are acting on behalf of the Company.
The same rules that apply to our messaging and communications
in traditional media still apply in the online social media
space; simply because the development and implementation of
an online social media program can be fast, easy, and inexpensive
doesn’t mean that different rules apply.
By leveraging our collective genius and the courage to shape
a better future, combined with our passion, diversity, quality
and accountable integrity, it is critical that we always remember
who we are (a news power house) and what our role is in the
social community is.
The best advice is to approach online worlds in the same
way we do the physical one – by using sound judgment
and common sense, by adhering to the Company’s values,
and by following the Code of Business Conduct and all other
Our Company in the Online Social Media Community
Note that there’s a big difference in speaking “on
behalf of the Company” and speaking “about”
• Adhere to the Code of Business Conduct and other
applicable policies. All Company associates, from the Chairman
to every intern, are subject to the Company’s Code
of Business Conduct in every public setting.
• You are responsible for your actions. Anything
you post that can potentially tarnish the Company’s
image will ultimately be your responsibility. We do encourage
you to participate in the online social media space, but
urge you to do so properly, exercising sound judgment and
• Be a “pathfinder” for compliments and
criticism. Even if you are not an official online spokesperson
for the Company, you are one of our most vital assets for
monitoring the social media landscape. If you come across
positive or negative remarks about the Company or its brands
online that you believe are important, consider sharing
them by forwarding them to [email protected]
• Let the subject matter experts respond to negative
posts. You may come across negative or disparaging posts
about the Company or its brands, or see third parties trying
to spark negative conversations. Unless you are a certified
online spokesperson, avoid the temptation to react yourself.
Pass the post(s) along to our official in-market spokespersons
who are trained to address such comments, at [email protected]
• Be conscious when mixing your business and personal
lives. Online, your personal and business personas are likely
to intersect. The Company respects the free speech rights
of all of its associates, but you must remember that customers,
colleagues and supervisors often have access to the online
content you post. Keep this in mind when publishing information
online that can be seen by more than friends and family,
and know that information originally intended just for friends
and family can be forwarded on. Remember NEVER to disclose
non-public information of the Company (including confidential
information), and be aware that taking public positions
online that are counter to the Company’s interests
might cause conflict.
• Protection of our consumers’ privacy. This
means that we should be conscientious regarding any Personally
Identifiable Information (PII) that we collect, including
how we collect, store, use, or share that PII, all of which
should be done pursuant to applicable Privacy Policies,
laws and IT policies.
• Respect of copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity,
and other third-party rights in the online social media
space, including with regard to user-generated content (UGC).
• Responsibility in our use of technology. We will
not use or align the Company with any organizations or Web
sites that deploy the use of excessive tracking software,
adware, malware or spyware.
• Utilization of best practices, listening to the
online community, and compliance with applicable regulations
to ensure that these Online Social Media Principles remain
current and reflect the most up- to-date and appropriate
standards of behavior.
Our Expectations for Online
Just as with traditional media, we have an opportunity –
and a responsibility – to effectively manage the Company’s
reputation online and to selectively engage and participate
in the thousands of online conversations that mention us every
Be Certified in the Social Media Certification Program. All
associates who wish to officially represent the Company online
must complete the Social Media Certification Program prior
to beginning or continuing these activities.
Follow our Code of Business Conduct and all other Company
policies. Our Code of Business Conduct provides the foundation
for these Online Social Media Principles.
Be mindful that you are representing the Company. As a Company
representative, it is important that your posts convey the
same positive, optimistic spirit that the Company instills
in all of its communications. Be respectful of all individuals,
races, religions and cultures; how you conduct yourself in
the online social media space not only reflects on you –
it is a direct reflection on the Company.
Fully disclose your affiliation with the Company. The Company
requires all associates who are communicating on behalf of
the Company to always disclose their name and their affiliation.
It is never acceptable to use aliases or otherwise deceive
Keep records. Because online conversations are often fleeting
and immediate, it is important for you to keep track of them
when you’re officially representing the Company.
When in doubt, do not post. Associates are personally responsible
for their words and actions, wherever they are. As online
spokespeople or behalf of, you must ensure that your posts
are completely accurate and not misleading, and that they
do not reveal non-public information of the Company. Exercise
sound judgment and common sense, and if there is any doubt,
DO NOT POST IT.
Give credit where credit is due and don’t violate others’
rights. DO NOT claim authorship of something that is not yours.
If you are using another party’s content, make certain
that they are credited for it in your post and that they approve
of you utilizing their content. Do not use the copyrights,
trademarks, publicity rights, or other rights of others without
the necessary permissions of the rightsholder(s).
Be responsible to your work. The Company understands that
associates engage in online social media activities at work
for legitimate purposes and that these activities may be helpful
for Company affairs. However, the Company encourages all associates
to exercise sound judgment and common sense to prevent online
social media sites from becoming a distraction at work.
Remember that your local posts can have global significance.
The way that you answer an online question might be accurate
in some parts of the world, but inaccurate (or even illegal)
in others. Keep that “world view” in mind when
you are participating in online conversations.
Know that the Internet is permanent. Once information is
published online, it is essentially part of a permanent record,
even if you “remove/delete” it later or attempt
to make it anonymous. If your complete thought, along with
its context, cannot be squeezed into a character-restricted
space (such as Twitter), provide a link to an online space
where the message can be expressed completely and accurately.
There should be a clear division between “Geo News
staff” pages and "personal" pages.
On Social Networking sites, you should be mindful that the
information you disclose does not bring the “Geo News
staff” into disrepute.
For example, editorial staff should not indicate their political
allegiance. Non-editorial staff should make their role clear
if they wish to engage in political activity.
It may not be appropriate to share Geo News-related photographs,
comments and videos. Offensive comment about Geo News staff
colleagues may be deemed a disciplinary offence.
Geo News staff staff are free to edit online encyclopedias
(such as Wikipedia) but should be transparent about doing
If you are using Geo News in your usernames or twitter handles,
your account will be considered as an official account.
All official accounts need to be approved by your supervisor
and PD/New Media desk.
All output on these accounts needs to be consistent with Geo
Posting content which is not from Geo News requires approval
(this includes articles and videos from other websites).
3. TeamGeo Safety Guide
Points to ensure Personal Safety while working in high risk
1. The fundamental
principle that governs news coverage in a conflict zone
is: ‘NO STORY IS WORTH YOUR LIFE’. So, pull
out before it’s too late.
in touch means staying alive. So your Executive producer/Bureau
Chief/shift in charge should always be aware of your movements
in a conflict zone.
3. The Executive
Producer/Bureau chief /Shift Incharge are also expected
to carry out the risk assessment before deploying the crew
in a hostile zone.
4. In case
of trouble Executive Producer/Bureau Chief/shift in charge
is expected to coordinate with the emergency services/hospitals.
5. Make sure the team of reporters/photographers/cameraman
being deployed has the basic knowhow/ training in reporting
from a conflict zone.
6. The vehicle/DSNG
they are traveling in should have the necessary safety gear
(bullet-proof jackets etc) and a proper first aid/trauma
7. At least
one member of the crew should have the basic knowledge of
life saving techniques.
8. The colour
of the bullet-proof jacket/helmet should be different from
that of the security forces operating in the area.
civil disturbance/riots the journalists should be dressed
up in a manner that they are not confused for members of
one of the conflicting parties.
10. Geo News
will not take beepers of Reporters or Photo/Video Journalist
from the conflict areas unless they are wearing proper kit
11. As tempers
often run high during civil disturbance, the reporter/photographer
should never hesitate to identify themselves by shouting
‘PRESS’ or ‘JOURNALIST’ but try
and avoid arguing with either of the parties (rioters/police).
12. The field
reporters, tv crew’s vehicle/DSNG should have a directory
of all nearby hospitals/police stations.
13. At least
one member of the team should be trained and senior enough
to DECIDE on the spot the RIGHT TIME TO ABANDON THE COVERAGE
and move to a safer place.
1 Much of this document,
including whole paragraphs, have been derived from The New
York Times and BBC Journalism Handbooks.