Reuters and Freedom of Bias

REUTERS would not be Reuters without freedom from bias. We are a “stateless” news service that welcomes diversity into our newsrooms but asks all staff to park their nationality and politics at the door.

This neutrality is a hallmark of our news brand and allows us to work on all sides of an issue, conflict or dispute without any agenda other than accurate, fair reporting.

Our customers and our sources value Reuters for that quality and it is one we all must work to preserve.

Take no side, tell all sides
As Reuters journalists, we never identify with any side in an issue, a conflict or a dispute. Our text and visual stories need to reflect all sides, not just one.

This leads to better journalism because it requires us to stop at each stage of newsgathering and ask ourselves “What do I know?” and “What do I need to know?”

In reporting a takeover bid, for example, it should be obvious that the target company must be given an opportunity to state their position.

Similarly in a political dispute or military conflict, there are always at least two sides to consider and we risk being perceived as biased if we fail to give adequate space to the various parties.

This objectivity does not always come down to giving equal space to all sides. The perpetrator of an atrocity or the leader of a fringe political group arguably warrants less space than the victims or mainstream political parties.

We must, however, always strive to be scrupulously fair and balanced. Allegations should not be portrayed as fact; charges should not be conveyed as a sign of guilt.

We have a duty of fairness to give the subjects of such stories the opportunity to put their side.

We must also be on guard against bias in our choice of words. Words like “claimed” or “according to” can suggest we doubt what is being said. Words like “fears” or “hopes” might suggest we are taking sides.

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