I. Internal guidelines
- We do not work alone and are not in competition with each other.
- We share our knowledge with each other.
- We reflect on and discuss together at the start of each investigation 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.
- We constantly strive to be better.
- If necessary, we express criticism openly, candidly, and early. At the same time, we remain cooperative and do not hold grudges.
- We take advantage of opportunities for additional training and share our knowledge.
II. Identifying topics
- Our focus is on those topics that have particular relevance for the lives of our readers.
- We aim with our investigations to disclose problematical structures rather than to publish unrelated scoops. Our investigations are not incident based, but structure oriented.
- We want to astonish readers with our selected topics and publications.
III. Sources, whistle-blowers, the investigation process
- We identify ourselves to our interlocutors as journalists from IGN and only conduct investigations undercover in exceptional cases.
- Our informants can always depend on the assurances we make to them.
- We only reveal the identities of our confidential sources – including within the IGN editorial team – with the source’s consent.
- 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 identity of the source.
- We protect our sources to the best of our ability and judgment.
- In our function as IGN journalists, we accept no compensation or other material benefits.
- IGN journalists do not conduct public relations.
- We construct working hypotheses, but carry out our investigations without prejudice or any set expectations.
- We involve trusted lawyers in the investigative process early on.
- Uninvolved third parties do not receive information about our investigations.
- We speak openly with each other.
- We strive to give our work process maximum transparency and regularly publish investigation protocols.
- We are journalistic enlighteners; we go straight to the heart of the problem and are skeptical of those in power.
- We publish according to the motto: “Be first. But first be sure.”
- We make the respective basis of a factual claim as transparent as possible to our readers. As much as possible, we publish the documents and data that inform our contributions.
- We only publish information that meets at least one of the following criteria:
- A written document is in our possession, which originates from a credible source
- A record is in our possession from a credible source that we have analyzed
- Information in our possession from a person who is credible and has obvious expertise in the respective topic
- 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:
- The person explicitly insists on protecting their identity, and this desire is comprehensible to outsiders.
- We have vigorously – but unsuccessfully – attempted to find an alternative source for the same information who can be quoted by name.
- There is a second anonymous person who can independently confirm the information of the first anonymous source who is to be quoted.
- We may disclose the milieu or the employer of at least one of the two anonymous sources.
- In sensitive cases regarding press law, we obtain an affidavit from the quoted anonymous source before publication.
- At a minimum, the four-eyes principle must be adhered to for each of our publications: Each contributor is required to have their piece rigorously checked for content and style by a CORRECTIV colleague.
- We will not conceal information from our readers which may contradict assessments or conclusions we have made.
- 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 that we critically apply to others journalistically.
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.
- We publicly disclose donation amounts and contributions over $1000, along with their respective donors and contributors, in a timely manner. We do not accept contributions and donations from sponsors who do not agree to these conditions. Anonymous contributions are publicly disclosed as such.
- Under no circumstances can sponsors influence editorial content, investigations, or any other decisions taken by the IGN editorial team and its contributors.
- We reserve the right to refuse donations from sponsors whose ethical principles conflict with our own.
- We disclose potential conflicts of interest between donors and the work of IGN employees or IGN editors. If we detect conflicts of interest, individual IGN employees may be excluded from conducting research on a specific project, or entire investigations may be abandoned by the editorial team of IGN. Such actions will also always be publicly disclosed.
VI. Media partners
- We are generally interested in publishing our investigations in cooperation with other media outlets.
- 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.
- Our texts may under no circumstances be edited by other media in a way that distorts their meaning. We format our texts (incl. long pieces) at least once to contributions of 100 lines.
- IGN is only liable for the content of the publications of our own authors on our website or in our own print products (magazine, books). Any risk in the area of press law relating to the acquisition of IGN stories via other media also lies with said media, as in the case of the work of freelance writers.
VII. Our self-concept
- We do not see our work as being in competition with, but rather as a supplement to, the work of established media outlets.
- We do not engage in media bashing.
- We are an independent, nonprofit and investigative organization that focuses on the entire German-speaking region. We are dedicated to society as a whole, not individual interests.
- We have an educational mission: We aim to acquire and share knowledge.
- We are convinced that investigative journalism is important to a healthy democracy and therefore
- has an essential enlightening function,
- serves the public interest as a tool of popular enlightenment,
- and should accordingly be perceived and understood as a social good, which is just as worthy of support as educational institutions, museums, theaters etc.
VIII. Ethics and supervisory boards
The role of the ethics board
- The ethics board advises the management team of IGN with a view to the ethical compatibility of the editorial activities of IGN with good journalistic practice.
- The members of the ethics board are not bound by specific instructions. They represent their personal beliefs and are subject only to their own conscience.
- If in particular matter there is concern over a conflict of interest regarding a member of the ethics board, the member in question is required to notify the chair or the two deputies to discuss the issue. If the discussion does not reach consensus as to whether a conflict of interest is at issue, the ethics board will decide in the absence of the person in question on their participation in the relevant discussion and decision-making process.
- The ethics board is to be informed by management on a regular basis, but no less than once a calendar quarter, about the primary content-related developments and programs and any significant substantive events.
- The ethics 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 substantive work of the organization, inasmuch as this does not bear on the protection of informants.
- The ethics council consists at least of one chair and two deputies. All statements of the ethics board are provided on behalf of the ethics board by the chair or – should the chair be otherwise hindered – by one of his deputies.
- The ethics board is first appointed by collectives of the organization. Upon the departure of a member, collectives appoint a new member in coordination with the remaining members of the ethics board.
- Members of the ethics board are appointed to three-year terms. Repeat appointments are allowed.
- Decisions of the ethics board shall be taken in board meetings. Besides meetings, decisions can also be taken in writing and/or in the context of conferences calls. The convening and chairing of the meetings of the ethics board is exercised by the chair or, should the chair be otherwise hindered, by one of his deputies in writing or text form with a notice period of 14 days. Management attends the meetings of the ethics board without voting rights, if and to the extent to which the board has not decided otherwise. The ethics 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 members of the ethics board 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 member of the ethics board has one vote; in the case of a tie, the chair shall cast the deciding vote.
- The meetings of the ethics 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.
- The decisions of the ethics board are to be entered into the meeting’s minutes. The minutes shall be sent to the members of the ethics board, the members of the supervisory board, the management, and collectives within a period of four weeks.
The role of the supervisory board
- The supervisory board oversees the financial management of IGN. It may at any time view the organization’s accounts and records. It can also appoint independent experts for this purpose.
- The supervisory board has three members: a chair and two deputies.
- It meets at least twice a year. It is informed on a quarterly basis.
- The supervisory board is appointed by collectives. Upon the departure of a member of the supervisory board, collectives appoint a new member in coordination with the remaining members of the supervisory board.
- Supervisory board members are appointed to three-year terms.
- The decisions of the supervisory board are to be entered into the meeting’s minutes.