Newsroom Statute of El Periódico de Cataluna.
El Periódico de Catalunya (EPC) was founded on the promise that it would be a democratic means of communication, in order to contribute first to the elaboration of a regime of freedom and then to help strengthen it – and in order to insure the incorporation of Cataluña and of Spain into a united Europe.
EPC was created with the promise that as a newspaper it would be plural, progressive, non religious, non dogmatic, respectful of the decisions of majorities and an active defender of the human rights recognised in the Universal Declaration of the United Nations and the European Convention of Human Rights. It claims to be open to all types of opinions and ideas expressed respectfully, unless they incite to violence or to subversion of constitutional principles.
EPC was born, also, with the promise to defend a market-based economic system founded on competence, productivity and a wide distribution of private property, within which the public authorities correct imbalances and guarantee all citizens their rights, without any kind of discrimination.
Within the Zeta Group, EPC organises its activities with the goal of honestly informing its readers. Moreover, it seeks to obtain the financial profit that will insure its own future and the independence of the newspaper. To the respect which the management of the firm shows for individual freedom and the opinions of all who work for it, will correspond a critical loyalty of those persons towards the freedom and opinions of management, as well as towards the editorial line of the newspaper.
I. Nature of the Newsroom Statute (Estatuto de redaccion)
This Newsroom Statute governs the professional relations of members of the newsroom with one another, with the management of the newspaper and with the management of the publishing firm, with no restrictions to, no interference with, labour relationships. The Statute also applies, to the extent of their professional contribution, to freelancers who provide journalistic material to the newspaper. Advertisers are, very explicitly, excluded.
The general principles that govern those relations are those that derive from the Spanish Constitution, from the Statute of Catalunya, from the United Nations’ draft Code of Professional Honour, from the Declaration of Rights and Duties of the journalists of the European Union and from the Code of Ethics of the Association of Journalists (Col.legi de Periodistes) of Catalunya.
II. Professional Rights and Duties
The work of the journalistic staff at El Periódico de Catalunya is governed by the following principles:
1) the defence of information that is rigorous, well-grounded, and obtained by honest methods.
2) News to be clearly distinguished from opinion, thus avoiding confusion or deliberate distortion of the one or of the other. Similarly will be avoided the spreading of conjectures and rumours as if they were news. Advertising will be made clearly, typographically, different from either.
3) Publication without delay of corrections and rectifications will be encouraged.
4) Never will information be published in such a way as incites to violence or constitutes an apology of it.
5) Never will information be published in such a way as implies any type of discrimination because of ideology, religion, gender, race, social or cultural origin.
6) The private life of people is to be respected, above all in circumstances that cause grief, by avoiding unjustified interference and unnecessary observations about their feelings and the situation, especially when the people affected make clear that they disapprove.
7) Scrupulously respect presumption of innocence in all news stories concerning current penal cases.
8) Special care to be given to the treatment of news that involves minors; one should avoid revealing their identity when they appear as protagonists in some criminal affair, whether as victims, witnesses or suspects, especially in cases with strong social impact, like sex crimes.
9) The members of the newsroom cannot work at the same time on tasks related to advertising or public relations, as press or image consultants, whether they be paid or not, directly or indirectly, in any sector related to their journalistic work at EPC. No news person can be forced to do journalistic work with an advertising object, except when it concerns promotional jobs for EPC’s own products, as well as initiatives of Grupo Zeta in which EPC participates:
10) Members of the EPC news staff must introduce themselves clearly as individual journalists, not in the name of EPC, in their public activities and journalistic collaborations – when they have not been designated explicitly by the management to represent the newspaper.
11) No member of the newsroom can receive money or presents whose value exceeds that of usual expressions of courtesy, from people or institutions outside the EPC media company for work done within the newspaper.
12) In no case will a member of the news staff use, for his/her own profit or that of third parties, information that was obtained in the course of his work or some assignment, by delaying or suppressing its publication, or by changing or revealing its contents. Management must take into account the opinion of the author on whether publication is proper or not.
13) The journalists have the right and the duty to permanent education so as to maintain their professionalism and their competence. The collective contract establishes the ways in which that duty and right can be fulfilled, listing means like the gaining of scholarships, temporary leaves of absence, paid or not, and other means.
14) No member of the newsroom will be forced to sign stories that he/she has not personally produced.
The Professional Committee must decide cases related to those rights and duties, independently of the decisions made by the director in that respect.
a) Every member of the editorial staff has the right and the duty not to reveal the sources of his/her news stories – or those of his/her colleagues. The journalists, the management and the firm defend that right and duty against the public authorities and against any private organism or entity.
b) Without the permission of the author, it is not possible to reveal the authorship of articles published without a signature or with the signature of the newspaper or that are yet to be published.
c) Only when an unsigned article causes judicial action that hurts third parties, can management reveal the identity of the author to the judicial authority.
d) The journalists must make sure that the contents of their diaries, archives and any other personal material, like their computer files, are kept confidential. The company will provide means to guarantee their inviolability.
Clause of Conscience
a) Journalists have the right to refuse to collaborate in the production of news articles that are contrary to their convictions or to the ethical and professional principles of journalism. Whoever is thus affected will announce his/her decision, which needs to be soundly argued, in writing, to the director and to the Professional Committee, specifying the reasons why the assignment cannot be completed. After looking at the said arguments, the Committee will give its opinion on whether the presumptions are correct which make it impossible for the journalist to accept the assignment or to work for the newspaper.
b) No member of the newsroom can be forced to sign a piece of work, assigned or done of his/her own initiative, if he/she considers that modifications made after filing alter its contents and had not been agreed beforehand.
c) When the information derives from sources personal to a journalist, that person can demand that the contents and form of the information be respected. In case the contents is altered or the meaning of it through alteration of the form, it can only be published with the permission of the author.
d) Journalists have the right to terminate their contract with the publishing company when a change takes place in the orientation of the founding principles of EPC, contained in the present Statute, the effect of which is incompatible with their moral or ideological conviction. The petition will be made to the company and, in case of disagreement, in court. The termination entitles the journalist to a compensation equal to whichever of the following sums is the larger: one year of the salary which the journalist was normally going to receive or the maximum compensation which, according to law and usage, is due for unjustified dismissal. If the clause of conscience is invoked before a court, the plaintiff is entitled to receive the compensation mentioned.
e) The Professional Committee intervenes in conflicts deriving from the use of the clause of conscience every time its mediation is requested.
f) Neither the mention or the use of the clause of conscience should entail sanctions, transfers or negative effects of any kind, for the affected journalist as employee or as professional.
The copyright of the texts and graphical material produced for EPC belong to the authors, but such products can be used by other media under financial and professional conditions agreed by the editorial staff of EPC and Ediciones Primera Plana S.A.
Texts and graphics cannot be used by other media before their publication in EPC, unless specified in a contrary agreement .
The reproduction in other media of texts and graphics from EPC will be done in full respect of their contents and of the signature of the authors.
EPC sets aside space open to the public so as to guarantee the right to correct or amend information that is incomplete or false, whatever legal dispositions exist.
EPC will insist that media which use its texts and graphics will also publish possible corrections and amendments to them.
The members of the newsroom have the right to know, before publication, the rectifications made to their products and to express their opinion as to whether or not they should be published.
Any member of the newsroom who spots an error in a news story, be it his/hers or that of someone else, can suggest a rectification using the systems set up within the newspaper. If it is confirmed that the error or the topic is significant, the rectification will be published.
III. The Director (Executive Editor)
The director of El Periódico de Catalunya is in charge of conducting, organising and coordinating the work of the journalistic staff, within the frame established by the laws and the State. He together with the top and medium-level executives in the newsroom constitute the team that governs the daily.
Being responsible for the editorial line of EPC, the director possesses a right of veto, in agreement with existing law, upon any copy, including advertisements. When he/she uses that right, he/she will inform the editor in charge and the author, of the criterion applied to reach the decision, unless exceptional reasons of confidentiality make that impossible.
If ever the publishing firm were to create a position, with responsibility over the newsroom and/or the medium, superior to that of the director, the holder of the new position will assume all the engagements made by the signatories of the present Statute.
IV. Professional Committee
The Professional Committee is the professional body representative of the journalistic staff. It sees to it that the Newsroom Statute is respected and serves as a mediator between the newsroom and the director and the company on all matters relevant to the Newsroom Statute. The Committee is the first level of jurisdiction to which affected persons can turn. It can also discuss topics of interest to the news staff.
The Committee and the director meet once a month to deal with the debates, initiatives and conflicts that have occurred within the newsroom on professional issues. In urgent cases, both the Committee and the director (or, in his absence, his substitute) can call an extraordinary meeting, which will take place with the least possible delay. The Committee calls and organises assemblies of the news staff on an agenda of its competence. The staff is entitled to at least one assembly every three months and to use the premises of the company during working hours. Apart from exceptional cases, the convocation will be announced to the management at least 48 hours in advance.
The Committee’s term of office is two years, from the day it is empowered. The Committee consists of three persons for the first 51 members of the news staff. Over the number 51, one further member is added to the Committee for every 50 journalists or fraction thereof. The candidates run individually and are elected by secret ballot. On every ballot there can be as many names as there are positions to fill minus two.
The members of the Committee elect the Secretary, who will record the minutes of the meeting. In exceptional cases, the Committee can decide that its debates will be kept secret.
If ever vacancies occur within the Committee, immediate elections will be called to fill the vacant positions. The persons then elected will assume the function for the same duration as the rest of the Committee. The outgoing Committee is responsible for organising the election of the new one.
Can vote and be elected all the members of the journalistic staff that are not explicitly excluded by this Statute. Are not eligible the director, the Deputy Directors, the assistant directors and holders of positions analogous to those.
Any member of the Committee can be removed with the agreement of a majority of votes in the Newsroom Assembly, convened by a petition of at least 10% of the staff.
The members of the Committee possess the rights and guarantees which the Law and the collective contract of Ediciones Primera Plana S.A. grant to union representatives.
V. Professional relations within the newsroom
The publishing company of EPC will inform the news staff, via the Professional Committee, of changes that take place in the ownership of its stock and, if the case occurs, of very important decisions that substantially affect the life of Ediciones Primera Plana S.A.
Management will inform in the same way about decisions made concerning editorial projects for the newspaper, general re-organisations of activities, technological innovations and other issues that affect the professional activity of the journalists.
The Committee is the organism in charge of expressing to the publishing company and to the management the opinions of the news staff and, if there are any, the suggestions and oppositions of professionals. In that case, the Committee and management will negotiate how to execute the decisions made.
Appointments and substitutions
The EPC company will communicate to the Professional Committee the appointment of a new director before it is published and will present the reasons for the change. The Committee will inform the new staff of the appointment and will convey to the company the opinions it will gather, which will have no binding character.
As regards the appointment to other executive positions (Deputy director, assistant directors, executive editor and such), the director will communicate it to the Committee before it is published and will present the reasons for the change. Afterwards, he will listen to the opinions of the news staff, gathered by the Committee, which will have no binding character.
If an absolute majority of the news staff considers that some news material or an editorial position published in the newspaper clearly violates one of the rights and duties recognised in this Statute or one of the founding principles of the newspaper, the Professional Committee will set forth its viewpoint on the pages of EPC in as brief a space as possible.
This Newsroom Statute will be valid for a duration of two years, from the day it is approved. It is understood that it will be tacitly extended for further two-year periods in the same terms if none of the parties that signed it ask for revision. In case no agreement can be reached by the parties in the process of revision, the Newsroom Statute will stay extended in the same terms as were before established.
[Translated by Claude-Jean Bertrand]