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Editorial Charter

I. Internal Guidelines

  1. We do not work alone and are not in competition with each other.
  2. We share our knowledge with network members.
  3. At the start of each investigation, we reflect on and discuss how we can tell a story in a state-of-the-art way using multimedia. We include each other in what we are working on.
  4. We constantly strive to be better.
  5. If necessary, we express criticism openly, candidly, and early. At the same time, we remain cooperative and do not hold grudges.
  6. We take advantage of opportunities for additional training and share our knowledge.

II. Identifying Topics

  1. Our focus is on those topics that have particular relevance to the lives of our readers.
  2. Our investigations aim to disclose problematic structures rather than publish unrelated scoops. Our streams are not incident-based but systems oriented.
  3. We want to astonish readers with our selected topics and publications.

III. Sources, Whistle-blowers, Investigations

  1. We identify ourselves to our interlocutors as stewards from IDN and only conduct investigations undercover in exceptional cases.
  2. Our informants can always depend on the assurances we make to them.
  3. We only reveal the identities of our confidential sources – including within the IDN editorial team – with the source’s consent.
  4. If such consent does not exist, an open and critical debate about the reliability and trustworthiness of the source and the potential risks of exploitation by the source must be had without revealing the source’s identity.
  5. We protect our sources to the best of our ability and judgment.
  6. As IDN stewards, we accept no compensation or other material benefits.
  7. IDN stewards do not conduct public relations.
  8. We construct working hypotheses but conduct our investigations without prejudice or set expectations.
  9. We involve trusted lawyers in the investigative process early on.
  10. Uninvolved third parties do not receive information about our investigations.
  11. We speak openly with each other about issues.
  12. We strive to give our work process maximum transparency and regularly publish investigation protocols.

IV. Publications

  1. We are journalistic enlighteners; we go straight to the heart of the problems and are skeptical of those in power.
  2. We publish according to the motto: “Be first. But first, be sure.”
  3. We make the respective basis of a factual claim as transparent as possible to our readers.
  4. We publish the documents and data that inform our contributions as much as possible.
  5. We only publish information that meets at least one of the following criteria:
    1. A written document is in our possession which originates from a credible source.
    2. A record is in our possession from credible sources we have analyzed.
    3. Information in our possession from a person who is credible and has evident expertise in the respective topic
  6. If we decide in an exceptional case to not name the identity of an individual source to our readers and users, the following conditions must be met:
    1. The person explicitly insists on protecting their identity, and this desire is comprehensible to outsiders.
    2. We have vigorously – but unsuccessfully – attempted to find an alternative source for the same information which can be quoted by name.
    3. A second anonymous person can independently confirm the information of the first anonymous source to be quoted.
    4. We may disclose the milieu or the employer of at least one of the two anonymous sources.
    5. In sensitive cases regarding press law, we obtain an affidavit from the quoted anonymous source before publication.
  7. At a minimum, four principles must be adhered to for each of our publications: Each contributor is required to have their piece rigorously checked for content and style by IDN colleagues.
  8. We will not conceal information from our readers that may contradict our assessments or conclusions.
  9. Should any of our contributions or parts of them be erroneous, despite the utmost care and diligence, we will make a public and self-critical acknowledgement, apologize, and correct the errors.

V. Benefactors and Donors

Preliminary remarks on the acceptance of donations:
  • Our greatest asset is our independence and our credibility.
  • We will be viewed as credible when we also hold ourselves to the same standards we critically apply to others.
  • We recognize that the public’s ethical and moral standards are much higher for a not-for-profit undertaking like ours than for commercial media.
  1. We publicly disclose donations and contributions over $1000, along with their respective donors and contributors, promptly. We do not accept grants and donations from sponsors who do not agree to these conditions. Anonymous contributions are publicly disclosed as such.
  2. Under no circumstances can sponsors influence editorial content, investigations, or any other decisions the IDN editorial team and its contributors take.
  3. We reserve the right to refuse donations from sponsors whose ethical principles conflict with ours.
  4. We disclose potential conflicts of interest between donors’ and IDN or editors’ work. If we detect conflicts of interest, individual IDN employees may be excluded from researching a specific project, or the editorial team of IDN may abandon entire investigations. Such actions will also always be publicly disclosed.

VI. Media Partners

  1. We are generally interested in publishing our investigations in cooperation with other media outlets.
  2. Exclusive media partners are granted access to our primary sources for fact-checking purposes. This may only occur under the condition that sources who wish to remain anonymous must remain anonymous vis-à-vis our exclusive media partners; they may not face any risk of exposure.
  3. Other media may under no circumstances edit our texts in a way that distorts their meaning. We format our texts (incl. long pieces) at least once to contributions of 100 lines.
  4. IDN is only liable for the content of the publications of our authors on our website or in our print products (journals, magazines, books). Any risk in press law relating to the acquisition of IDN stories via other media also lies with said media, as in the case of the work of freelance writers.

VII. Our Self-concept

  1. We do not see our work as competing with, but rather as a supplement to, the work of established media outlets.
  2. We do not engage in media bashing.
  3. We are an independent, nonprofit, non-religious, non-partisan, non-ideological and decentralized organization focusing on the entire Iranian diaspora. We are dedicated to society as a whole, not individual, ideological, partisan, and commercial interests.
  4. We have an educational mission: We aim to acquire and share knowledge.
  5. We are convinced that progressive journalism is essential to a healthy democracy and, therefore,
    1. has an essential enlightening function,
    2. serves the public interest as a tool of popular enlightenment,
    3. And should accordingly be perceived and understood as public goods, which are just as worthy of support as educational institutions, museums, theatres etc.

VIII. Advisory and Supervisory Boards

 – Advisory Board

  1. The Advisory Board advises the management team with a view to the ethical compatibility of the activities of IDN with good environmental, social, and governance practices.
  2. Specific instructions do not bind the members of the advisory board. They represent their personal beliefs and are subject only to their conscience.
  3. If there is concern over a conflict of interest, the member in question must notify the chair or deputies to discuss the issue. If the discussion does not reach a consensus, the advisory board will decide in the absence of the person in question on their participation in the relevant activities and decision-making process.
  4. The advisory board is to be informed by management regularly, but no less than once a calendar quarter, about the primary network developments and programs and any significant substantive events.
  5. The advisory board will convene at least once a year. It may, at any time, by way of resolution, demand information and reports from management on all matters relating to the organization’s substantive work since this does not bear on the protection of informants.
  6. The advisory board consists of at least one chair and two deputies. The chair provides all statements of the advisory board or by one of their deputies.
  7. Network collectives first appoint the advisory board. Upon the departure of a member, collectives nominate a new member in coordination with the remaining members of the advisory board.
  8. Members of the advisory board are appointed to three-year terms. Repeat appointments are allowed.
  9. Decisions of the advisory board shall be taken in board meetings. Besides meetings, decisions can also be taken in writing and via conference calls. The chair exercises the convening and chairing of the advisory board meetings or, should the chair be otherwise hindered, by one of their deputies in writing or text form with a notice period of 14 days. The management attends the advisory board meetings without voting rights, if and to the extent to which the board has not decided otherwise. The advisory board has a quorum if at least half of its members are present at the meeting, including the chair and one of their deputies or, in the event of the chair’s absence, their two deputies. In the case of a vote, at least half of the advisory board members must participate, including the chair and one of their deputies or, in the event of the chair’s absence, their two deputies. Decisions by vote require a simple majority. Each advisory board member has one vote; in case of a tie, the chair shall cast the deciding vote.
  10. The meetings of the advisory board are not public. Its deliberations are confidential. Where appropriate, only the results of the meeting shall be reported, not the positions represented by the individual board members.
  11. The decisions of the advisory board are to be entered into the meeting’s minutes. The minutes shall be sent to the members of the advisory board, the members of the supervisory board, the management, and collectives within a period of four weeks.

– Supervisory Board

  1. The supervisory board oversees the management of IDN. It may, at any time, view the organization’s accounts and records. It can also appoint independent experts for auditory and reporting purposes.
  2. The supervisory board has three members: a chair and two deputies.
  3. It meets at least twice a year. It is informed quarterly.
  4. Collectives appoint the supervisory board. Upon the departure of a supervisory board member, collectives nominate a new member in coordination with the remaining supervisory board members.
  5. Supervisory board members are appointed to three-year terms.
  6. The decisions of the supervisory board are to be entered into the meeting’s minutes.

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