The Lebanon Opportunities
Code of Journalistic Ethics
Table of Content
Insulate editorial from any type of influence
The InfoPro Code of Business Ethics
Securities ownership and trading.
Securities you own
Securities you plan to buy
Reporting securities ownership
Reporting other conflicts
Plagiarism and fabrication
Relations with sources and other outsiders
a. Unorthodox reporting techniques
b. Disclosure, early and otherwise
c. Financial dealings with sources and subjects of stories
d. Gifts, meals, and entertainment
g. Personal appearances
SEPARATION OF ADVERTISING AND EDITORIAL
Editorial staff and titling
In our society, the press enjoys a remarkable degree of freedom. With that freedom comes the responsibility to practice our craft in accordance with the highest standards, to be accountable for what we publish, and to avoid conflicts of interest.
Ever since Lebanon Opportunities was established in 1997, we have striven to fulfill these responsibilities. And with good reason. Otherwise, we could lose our most important asset: the trust of our readers and online visitors, in the credibility of the information and insights we provide.
We believe that our future depends upon preserving and enhancing this trust. Therefore, we must ensure that:
1. Our integrity is of the highest caliber.
2. We base our unique brand of journalism on accurate information, gathered honestly and presented fairly.
3. Our professional conduct is unassailable.
4. Our personal conduct, as it reflects on Lebanon Opportunities, is beyond reproach.
All members of the Lebanon Opportunities and InfoPro editorial staffs must uphold these principles. This means everyone who works on the magazine, the Web site, or in our other operations (including members of the art, production, and systems departments, all Web developers and programmers, and all assistants and clerical workers), be they full-time, part-time, interns, or freelancers. Moreover, it is expected to report to the editor-in-chief violations that are committed. If a potential ethical dilemma is encountered, that isn’t covered by this Code, the editor-in-chief must be requested for a ruling. To put it simply, when in doubt, ask.
Here are the rules by which we must live:
1. Insulate editorial from any type of influence.
Unquestionable integrity is at the heart of our effort to serve our audiences with the best business journalism in the world. One way we achieve this is to strictly observe an invisible wall that separates our editorial operations from our advertising and other business departments, so as to avoid any chance that one will inappropriately influence the other.
In every medium, our reporters, editors, and producers prepare and place stories, graphics, and interactive features based solely on their editorial merits. Thus, we treat companies that advertise with us exactly the same as those that don’t. We don’t favor any company or subject of a story, or discriminate against any -- for any reason.
Editors and editorial imperatives dictate the design of our products. Obviously, we make allowance for the presentation of revenue-generating elements. However, the design must always make clear the distinction between editorial and commercial material. In the spirit of that rule, for example, we do not link, for any reason other than editorial purposes, from within the text of electronic versions of our stories to an advertiser’s Web site.
To ensure that we honor these principles, there generally should be no contact (beyond social conversation) between the vast majority of Lebanon Opportunities editorial and business staffers. (The editor-in-chief or a designated surrogate may grant exceptions as necessary for the running of the business.)
2. The InfoPro Code of Business Ethics.
We are part of InfoPro, which has a reputation for the excellence, quality, and reliability of its products and services, and for decency, respect, honesty, and fairness in dealing with its customers, investors, business partners, suppliers, employees, and other constituents. In addition to setting high standards for ourselves, we must abide by the corporation’s Code of Business Ethics.
3. ASME guidelines.
The American Society of Magazine Editors has created guidelines for both print and digital media that establish a minimum standard of behavior for reputable magazines and Web sites. Lebanon Opportunities and its employees, both editorial and business, must honor the ASME guidelines. (Editorial Guidelines: www.magazine.org/asme/editorial-guidelines). We will treat violations of them as violations of our journalistic ethics.
Lebanon Opportunities specializes in valued-added, interpretive journalism. This gives us license to go beyond a traditional, just-the-facts approach. At the same time, it puts an extra onus on us in the following areas:
1. Accuracy. For the reader to believe our interpretations, we start with accurate information, honestly and professionally gathered. Moreover, our interpretation must flow from the facts and be reasonable. Inaccurate or sloppy reporting of material that appears anywhere under the Lebanon Opportunities name violates the spirit of this Code. The responsibility for accuracy lies with everyone who touches the editorial product.
2. Honesty. All of our dealings with sources -- and with other editorial staff -- must be truthful. As an institution, moreover, Lebanon Opportunities will always be an independent voice, with no ax to grind. We do not support political candidates or political parties. We are not Keynesians, monetarists, or supply-siders. On all matters of politics, economics, and social policy, we try to bring our own judgment to bear, based on thorough reporting and reasonable analysis. We do not do stories that are designed to hew to any ideological agenda.
3. Fairness. We give the subjects of a story -- people, companies, and institutions -- an opportunity to have their views presented. We include relevant portions of those views -- or report that the subject declines to comment. We also present differing or dissenting opinions, though they may be subordinate to the main thrust of the story. If someone complains about a story, we will investigate promptly and even-handedly. If we are right, we will stand by the story regardless of who is complaining. If we are wrong, we will say so forthrightly and make whatever amends seem appropriate. Because we do analytic journalism and commentaries, we do not strive for perfect objectivity. But we must always strive to be fair.
4. Attribution. We use the following ground rules when seeking information from sources:
On the record: We are free to use all material from the interview, including information and quotations, and to identify the source. We prefer this approach.
On background: We are free to use information and quotations, but you agree not to identify the source. "Not for attribution" is an acceptable method of gathering information, though not the one we prefer. We generally should have more than one source for information that you can’t attribute, both to double-check its veracity and to guard against being used or misled by a single source. In situations where we wish to report, without attribution, extremely sensitive information, we seek approval beforehand from the editor, the managing editor, or the editor-in-chief.
Off the record: We do not to use information from the source.
We make such decisions carefully because Lebanon Opportunities generally will have to honor whatever arrangement we make. The editor-in-chief or a designated surrogate has the right to know the identity of anonymous sources -- be they not-for-attribution or off-the-record sources -- and will keep such information confidential.
Routine attribution: "He said" means we got the quote from the source -- in person, at a press conference, or on the phone. "He said in a statement" or "in a report" means the quote came from a written statement or press release, or from a document such as an analyst’s report.
Every judgment we make as journalists must be free of conflicts of interest -- free even of the appearance of conflicts. Therefore, we must observe the following rules:
1. Securities ownership and trading.
a. Securities a journalist owns. Journalists may not report, write, or edit a story about a company in which they or members of their immediate family own securities -- nor about other companies in the same industry. Immediate family means spouse or significant other and children 18 or younger, plus those who live at home. For purposes of this Code, securities include all financial instruments of companies, such as stocks and corporate bonds, plus holdings in industry-specific mutual funds, industry-specific exchange traded funds, and industry-specific hedge funds. Further, journalists may not write about companies -- or the industries of companies -- in which they trade options. Nor may you write about commodities -- such as energy products -- if they trade futures in those markets. Journalists may, however, invest in diversified mutual funds, diversified exchange traded funds, diversified hedge funds, Treasury securities, or municipal bonds.
In any instance where a conflict seems likely, journalists must recuse themeselves from participating in the story.
b. Securities a journalist plans to buy. Journalists may not buy securities in a company they have written or edited a story about, for at least six months after the date on which they stopped covering the company and its industry -- even if they are no longer employed by Lebanon Opportunities. This applies to members of their immediate family as well. They may, however, trade the securities of companies they don’t cover, in industries they don’t cover, starting five days past the release time of the magazine issue in which a story about the company appears, or five days after a story’s appearance in Lebanon Opportunities. They must hold any corporate security, or any instrument based on such a security, for a minimum of three months except in cases of hardship -- for which they must seek a waiver from the editor-in-chief. In other words, they may not engage in day trading or so-called active trading or short selling. Nor may they accept "friends and family" shares from companies that are about to go public. Nor may they knowingly participate in unethical market-timing schemes that any mutual fund may engage in. Additionally, they may not trade in any security or financial instrument based on information gathered by anyone at Lebanon Opportunities before a story is published. We may report suspected insider trading to the appropriate authorities and will cooperate fully in any subsequent legal actions.
c. Special situations. There may be instances in which an editorial employee inherits stock from a non-spousal relative, or in which a newly hired employee or a person who is under contract to Lebanon Opportunities arrives with stock holdings. In such cases, journalists have these options:
--They can divest your holdings.
--they can ask the editor-in-chief to let you keep the holdings with the understanding that they must recuse themselves from covering companies (and their industries) in which they own securities.
--Place the securities and financial instruments, other than those that are exempt from these rules, into an independently-administered blind trust, which must be created in consultation with the InfoPro legal department.
2. Reporting securities ownership.
Jourjalists must disclose in a confidential memo to the editor-in-chief the ownership of stocks, bonds, and other securities of individual corporations, including your holdings in industry-specific mutual funds, industry-specific exchange traded funds, and industry-specific hedge funds, and also such holdings of the spouse, significant other, and other members of the immediate family. This statement must also disclose the names of all brokerage firms in which the family have accounts to trade or hold securities. New editorial employees must sign this Code when they are hired -- and immediately thereafter submit the required securities-disclosure statement. Any change in the portfolio -- that is, the purchase or sale of securities – must be reported to the editor-in-chief no later than one week after the transaction date.
3. Reporting other conflicts.
Journalists must include with your financial disclosure memo a description of any other potential conflict of interest, including other financial holdings plus any personal conflict that might arise from family connections or employment.
4. Plagiarism and fabrication. We don’t copy the work of others. And we don’t make things up. We must gather and verify every piece of information we present. On the rare occasion when we can’t confirm a critical fact another publication has reported, we must credit that publication. If we ever have a question about the use of such material, journalists should consult the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, or the InfoPro legal counsel. They should also notify all three if another publication has plagiarized our work.
5. Relations with sources and other outsiders.
a. Unorthodox reporting techniques. We do not practice surreptitious entry. Journalists must not misrepresent themselves to gain access to information for a story. This doesn’t preclude us from using extraordinary reporting efforts, but we always do so above board and as clearly identified Lebanon Opportunities employees. Any other approach could compromise the use of the material so gathered, and could give rise to a legal claim. Unusual reporting techniques should have the approval of the editor-in-chief
b. Disclosure, early and otherwise. Journalists may need to tell a source what a story is about, so that the person can provide the information you seek or respond to points in the story. But it is a violation of both the InfoPro and Lebanon Opportunities Codes to show a pre-publication version of a story, Q&A, or any other piece of journalism to anyone outside the editorial staffs. However, top editors may make exceptions on occasion -- for example, to accommodate the needs of our publicity department or of our editorial partners. Writers and editors may also, with the consent of their managers, read or e-mail to sources selected phrases or quotes before publication when there is no other practical way to ensure the accuracy of a story or a Q&A, or to secure a necessary response. We may not, however, read or send to sources entire stories or scripts, or extended sections of either, except with the permission of the editor-in-chief.
As a rule, in short, we may not tell sources or anyone else outside the staff details of what is in a story, when a story will appear, or what stories will appear, before the magazine’s official release time. Except as otherwise authorized by the editor-in-chief, no one may give sources, advertisers, or anyone else copies of the magazine or electronic versions of magazine stories before the official release time. Additionally, we may not tell anyone about the contents of Web-only stories or of broadcast segments before they go public.
These prohibitions -- plus the rule against trading based on information gathered by anyone at Lebanon Opportunities before a story is published -- also apply to all of Lebanon Opportunities’ ad sales and business staff, expressly including the business production staff.
Except with the approval of the editor-in-chief, we do not do stories that involve family, relatives, or friends. For purposes of this Code, a friend is someone we socialize with outside of normal business settings.
Finally, we must hold our own trade secrets and proprietary information inviolate. This includes not only cover and story schedules but all internal memos and discussions or decisions leading to the creation of specific stories.
c. Financial dealings with sources and subjects of stories. We do not pay for information. Moreover, we may not enter into a financial relationship of any kind with a source, except with the consent of the editor-in-chief. We may do business with companies covered for the purpose of securing normal bank loans, mortgage loans, and credit cards. In all such cases, however, we may not receive favorable terms that are unavailable to the general public.
d. Gifts, meals, and entertainment. We do not accept gifts from companies, from their public relations firms or agents, or from any other supplier of information -- not a bottle of wine during the holidays, not a reduced-rate membership for your personal use. During company visits, we may accept mementos or sample products of nominal value (less than $25). But we refuse, return, dispose of, or donate to charity any unsolicited gifts of more than nominal value -- the choice in the latter three instances being up to the sender, whom we contact immediately. Obviously, we do not solicit gifts. We generally may accept lunch or dinner only from a source with whom we are likely to meet often enough to return the favor (the one exception being an interview over a meal with a source at the person’s offices). In all other instances, Lebanon Opportunities must pay the bill. We use review copies of books, video games, and the like only for editorial purposes -- or else, as practicable, forward them to a person designated by the editor-in-chief for donation to charity. We may not sell such materials for any reason. We may accept the use of a review or test model of a new product -- cars, computers, software, and any other products, including subscription services -- for only as long as the reporting needs require. In most cases, this means only a few days -- and not for an extended period. In situations where a company with whom Lebanon Opportunities has an editorial partnership offers a favors, we comply with the InfoPro Code of Business Ethics, which states in part: "No gift having more than nominal value and no loan (other than a normal bank loan) may be accepted from any person or firm having current or prospective dealings with the corporation."
e. Travel. We may not accept junkets -- that is, trips paid for by a source or prospective source. If a trip is worth taking, Lebanon Opportunities will pay for it. If it is necessary to fly on a corporate plane, we will reimburse the host company for the cost. Such travel must be approved in advance by the editor-in-chief or the managing editor.
f. Freelancing. We will not grant permission to write for any competing publication or for any work that first should appear in Lebanon Opportunities or that would interfere with your work here. In general, you can’t accept an assignment if it would inhibit Lebanon Opportunities from doing a story. In addition, all editorial and business employees must get the editor-in-chief’s permission before starting a personal blog that focuses on issues or topics that Lebanon Opportunities regularly covers. The personal blog -- whatever the topic – should not mention any affiliation with Lebanon Opportunities or InfoPro, and that it never damages the reputation of Lebanon Opportunities. No one may undertake an assignment of any kind for a company, industry group, political party, labor union, or any third party with whom a personal affiliation might undermine the reputation of Lebanon Opportunities for impartial and independent journalism.
g. Personal appearances. Approval from the editor-in-chief or a designated surrogate is needed for TV and radio interviews, speeches, and any other appearance as a representative of Lebanon Opportunities, except when such appearances are arranged by Lebanon Opportunities’ publicity staff. We do not accept honoraria or expenses for such appearances without the written consent of the editor-in chief.
1. No one may not use your Lebanon Opportunities affiliation -- including your business card or business stationery -- for personal advantage in any way. Period. Among other things, this means that Lebanon Opportunities name or your title is never invoked when seeking to resolve a personal dispute with a merchant, financial institution, government agency, or anyone else. No favoritism must be courted based on a Lebanon Opportunities affiliation.
2. We avoid high-profile roles in the public spotlight, including in political campaigns (avoid marches and demonstrations, for example) or in fundraising that could associate the Lebanon Opportunities name with your personal causes or beliefs.
3. You never endorse a product, with the exception of the one for which we work.
4. You never copy, sell, share, or trade any company-owned or leased software without the express, written permission of the copyright owner or approval by the InfoPro. Nor do we copy software from one machine to another without the express, written permission of the InfoPro legal department.
5. Computer equipment -- including hardware, software, and any related material -- that Lebanon Opportunities loans to you for use outside the office remains the property of Lebanon Opportunities.
For magazines to be trusted by consumers and to endure as brands, readers must be assured of their editorial integrity. With that core conviction in mind, we have established these guidelines to make sure that the difference between advertising and editorial content is transparent to readers and that there is no advertiser influence or pressure on editorial independence.
a. Advertisements should look different enough from editorial pages that readers can tell the difference. We have an obligation to readers to make clear which content has been paid for, which is sponsored and which is independent editorial material. All paid content that may be confused with independent editorial material must be labeled as advertiser-sponsored.
b. With respect to special advertising supplements or advertorials: The words advertising, advertisement, special advertising supplement or similar labeling must appear horizontally at or near the center of the top of every page of such sections containing text, in type at least equal in size and weight to the publication’s standard body typeface.
c. The layout, design, typeface and style of special advertising sections or custom publishing products must be distinctly different from those of the publication.
d. Special advertising sections must not be slugged in the publication’s cover (including stickers) nor included in the table of contents. In general, the publication’s name or logo may not appear as any part of the headlines or text of such sections, except in connection with the magazine’s own products or services.
e. Editorial staff members and freelancers used by editorial should not participate in the preparation of custom publishing or advertising sections, except that the chief editor may review contents of such sections before they appear.
Covers. Unless specifically clear that it is advertising material, the front cover and spine are editorial space. Companies and products should appear on covers only in an editorial context and not in a way that suggests advertisement. (This includes use of cover “stickers.”)
Logos. Advertiser logos should not appear on editorial pages except in a journalistic context, or clearly in an advertising context. A magazine’s logo should appear on advertising pages only in connection with advertisements for the magazine and its promotions or when an advertised product is touting editorial awards that it has won.
Advertising sections. Editorial-looking sections or pages that are not produced by a magazine’s editors are not editorial content. They should be labeled “Advertisement,” “Special Advertising Section” or “Promotion” at the top of every page in type as prominent as the magazine’s normal body type.
Product placement/integration. Advertisers should not pay to place their products in editorial pages nor should they demand placement in return for advertising. Editorial pages may display and credit products and tell readers where to buy them, as long as those pages are solely under editorial control.
Editorial staff and titling. A magazine’s editorial staff members should not be involved in producing advertising in that magazine. Advertising and marketing staff should not use titles that imply editorial involvement (e.g., merchandising editor).
Editorial review. In order for a publication’s chief editor to be able to monitor compliance with these guidelines, every effort must be made to show all advertising pages, sections and their placement to the editor far enough in advance to allow for necessary changes.
Advertising review. While editors or publishers at their discretion may share the general topic matter of upcoming editorial content with advertisers, specific stories, layouts or tables of contents should not be submitted for advertiser review.
Lebanon Opportunities is committed to this Code. At the same time, we realize that no document can anticipate all possible circumstances that may arise in the future. It may be necessary, from time to time, to clarify this set of rules or to modify them. The editor-in-chief, with the InfoPro legal department, as necessary, will decide on any clarifications, exceptions, or modifications to this Code. We expect, however, that clarifications will be rare, and that exceptions will be narrow. Lebanon Opportunities’ reputation is its most important asset, and anything that damages that reputation damages both Lebanon Opportunities and all of us. As a consequence, a violation of any provision of this Code will invite discipline -- up to and including dismissal.