Policies and Standards
Our vision is to Elevate Thought, and our mission is to Lead the Global Conversation about China
To be the most trusted and respected source of information on China for business leaders, decision-makers and opinion leaders in the English-speaking communities around the world. The platform of choice for constructive, informed and elevated debate on the rise of China and its impact on the world.
Hong Kong Coverage
To be the trusted and authoritative platform for Hong Kong news, offering balanced, insightful coverage to an international audience interested in Hong Kong as a global city and as a part of China, and a domestic readership.
To be the definitive source of news, analysis and insight on all aspects of the Chinese economy, from macro-economics to policy, companies and markets, while offering unrivalled coverage of Hong Kong’s companies and property markets.
Informing the audience on the latest developments in Asia and its interactions with China and the world with exclusive content, authoritative analysis and thought-provoking insights. To be the news media of choice for readers interested to know Asia from multiple perspectives.
Editorial Code of Conduct
The South China Morning Post believes:
- Journalists uphold the principle of truth and fairness.
- Freedom of speech is a basic human right.
- Freedom of the press is an integral part of freedom of speech.
- Journalists should strive to uphold freedom of the press, and take public interest as the basis of their work.
- Journalists are transparent in all they do.
- Owners, executives and senior editors of the SCMP have the responsibility to encourage and require editorial staff to adhere to these principles.
SCMP Editorial Standards - Abstract
- Accuracy is a top priority.
- We correct errors quickly, clearly and openly.
- Balance and freedom from bias are essential.
- We respect privileged or embargoed information.
- We protect sources at all times from any interference or danger.
- We never put opinion in a news story.
- We never fabricate or plagiarise.
- We never alter a still or moving image beyond the requirements of crop and size and balance the tone and colour.
- We never pay for a story, or give, or accept a bribe.
- We always reveal any conflict of interest to a manager.
Above all, the purpose of this Code of Conduct is to protect and foster a bond of trust between the SCMP print and online journalism and readers, and to protect the integrity of the publication.
This Code of Conduct will form part of a journalist’s contract of employment and will guide our editorial management, journalistic writing, disciplinary, promotional and recruitment procedures. By observing the code, journalists working for the South China Morning Post will be protecting the independence, standing and reputation of themselves, their colleagues and the Post. Freelancers and casual staff will also abide by these guidelines while on assignment for the Post.
Code of Ethics - General Guidelines
Journalists should seek truth, fairness, objectivity, impartiality and comprehensiveness. They must ensure accuracy, fairness and balance at all times. They will not quote out of context or distort facts.
Ensure balance in all stories by giving individuals, groups, or organisations, the right of reply.
Under no circumstances will journalists self-censor their stories, or be influenced by any personal political beliefs or external pressure.
If inaccuracy, misleading facts, wrong figures, or distortion occurs, corrections are prompt, clear and open.
Journalists should not pander to prurience, indecency and sensationalism, using special caution when reporting news involving violence, crime, suicide, or minors.
Journalists will respect the reputation and privacy of individuals, and will use special caution when reporting on those who have declined to give their consent. Journalists should not intrude into the privacy of children.
The behaviour and personal data of public officials will only be published if it is relevant to their public office, or if it is in the public interest to do so.
Journalists should avoid conflict of interest in any form and declare any possible conflict of interest to their line manager. Should there be a conflict of interest, another journalist will be assigned to cover the story. Journalists should resist influence by political, economic and other interests related to themselves, their families, or their employers. They should protect themselves from undue influence by remaining politically neutral in their work, even if this conflicts with their personal beliefs.
Journalists should not seek monetary or other advantages from information that they have obtained in the course of discharging their duties; nor should journalists pass the information to others so the journalists might obtain an indirect advantage.
Journalists who report on a company, or financial instrument including all derivatives in which they, or their family, have any kind of shareholding or interest, must notify their manager.
They must not deal in the securities of any company, or other investment, about which they have reported in the previous month. Editorial staff never engage in short-term trading of any kind – short-term defined as less than one month duration. They will always reveal any conflict of interest to a manager.
Journalists should not distort facts to appease advertisers or for any other consideration and should not be influenced by external pressure or economic considerations in their reports and commentaries.
Journalists will not discriminate, or encourage others to discriminate, on grounds of age, race, colour, creed, religion, place or circumstance of birth, disability, marital status, gender or sexual orientation. We should strive to include diverse voices from our community in our coverage to serve our readers and improve the balance in our journalism. Outside of the file, the SCMP is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive culture amongst the entire workforce.
Journalists will never accept a cash gift offered by a news source or contact, including Lai See/Hong Bao/Red Envelopes.
Gifts under the value of HK$500, can be accepted, but only rarely. In circumstances where refusal of a more valuable gift may cause offence, the gift must be declared and handed over to a manager.
Journalists will not accept “junkets” – events that have little if any value to our newsgathering such as an invitation to a free flight, holiday, an evening’s entertainment or a sporting event at the expense of a news source.
The SCMP will fund its own travel and accommodation for trips arranged by companies or government agencies. We recognise that sometimes it is necessary to go on assignments that are not directly arranged by SCMP. In such cases, journalists will work with their supervisor to ensure that organisers are reimbursed. Repayment, or donation to a charity of equivalent value, will be arranged by the manager.
Journalists will make it clear that all opinions they express on social media are their own, and will never make it appear they represent the views of the South China Morning Post.
All newsroom discussions, meetings and town halls are confidential, and never shared on social media, personal blogs, Twitter or any form of social media.
Break news first on SCMP platforms before turning to social media. Teasers of SCMP stories must not be more than 30 words and should always be linked back to the South China Morning Post website. www.SCMP.com
Always use the usual newsroom practice of good judgement, solid sourcing, fairness, balance and accuracy in any social media activity.
In professional social media profiles, you will identify yourself as a South China Morning Post journalist. On personal accounts be aware anything you write can be associated with and will reflect on the Post through your job.
Journalists must never misrepresent themselves in chat rooms or online discussion forums.
Journalists must not link their own beliefs, political, religious or otherwise with the South China Morning Post.
Journalists will not obtain information illegally by hacking. Discovering information publicly available on the web is fair game, but defeating passwords or other security methods is not acceptable.
Journalists must be mindful of how their use of social media will reflect on their professionalism and the collective reputation of the South China Morning Post.
Do not treat any information that comes from anything other than an official corporate, government or NGO website as news or fact. Confirmation from the organisation is required.
In all cases using internet sources, stories will make clear where information came from. Copyright laws, and libel laws, apply to information that comes from the Internet.
Journalists will obtain all information, photographs and illustrations through legal and ethical means.
The methods used to obtain information, photographs and illustrations will be open and straightforward. Other methods can only be used in exceptional circumstances, and only if justified by overriding considerations of public interest and approved by a senior manager. Journalists are entitled to decline such assignments on the grounds of conscientious objection.
Single source stories will only move after sign off from a senior manager.
Journalists will never plagiarise. All information used from other media, whether in text or visual form, will be clearly attributed.
Journalists will protect sources of information. Any pressure to reveal a source, should be immediately reported to a manager.
Anonymous sources should be used rarely and only with the permission of a manager. The manager will determine whether naming the source will cause harm to the source in terms of their physical, mental safety or livelihood, or that of their family, friends or colleagues. In cases where anonymity is required, extraordinary care must be exercised to ascertain the veracity of information so provided, and only used at the discretion of the manager.
Guidelines for Photo and Video journalists
Visual journalists report the truth and take photographs, or shoot video, from the actual scene of a news event.
They never design, direct, pose subjects or re-enact news events in order to gain better images or video.
Visual journalists show concern for and respect the feelings of victims and their families when covering accidents, attacks or similar incidents, and their aftermath. They will strive to avoid or minimise any damage and impact of the incident on victims and their families.
Visual journalists and editors must use high standards of decency when handling gory, violent or pornographic images. The manager must be involved before these types of images are used and the following considerations taken into account:
- Does the image or footage give a better understanding of a news event?
- What will be the impact of the image or footage on readers?
- What will be the impact of the image or footage on the people involved and their families?
- Is the image or footage respectful and fair?
Visual journalists should process pictures on the basis of the actual scene. Any re-processing before or after is unacceptable.
Any manipulation of images beyond the requirements of normal image enhancement, such as montages or combined images with graphics to add special effects to editorial design will be labelled as “enhanced pictures” or “photo illustrations.”
All images or footage obtained from outside sources, i.e. not shot by SCMP staff or stringers, will be clearly marked with the source as being the originator.
Diverse Voices Statement
The mission of the South China Morning Post is to lead the global conversation about China. We are committed to pursuing accurate, fair and balanced coverage and believe that diversity and inclusion in sourcing and in hiring are critical for us to deliver a balanced news file.
From an editorial standpoint, we believe that including diverse voices from our community in our coverage serves our readers and improves the balance in our journalism. SCMP strongly believes that diversity is critical to the elevation of thought. Without multiplicity in perspectives and experiences, we cannot responsibly and comprehensively inform our readers, nor can we foster a more inclusive society. As such, we are committed to the healthy exchange of fact-based ideas and views across all of our platforms and events. Our Editorial motto is Truth and Fairness.
From a hiring perspective, we strive to promote and practice diversity and equality by eliminating discrimination of whatever nature in the workplace. All employees, including full-time, part-time or contract employees, and job applicants will be treated with dignity, respect, fairness and equality. We hire based on merits including relevant experience, previous performance, aptitude and ability. We do not make hiring decisions based on gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, race, gender reassignment, marital status, pregnancy or other characteristics purely of a personal nature. We do not tolerate discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying, victimization, prejudice or biased decisions being made in relation to any employee or job applicants regardless of whether it is specifically regulated, unlawful or not.
We measure the diversity of our team by nationality or origin, rather than ethnicity, as we believe the diverse geographic origins of our staff enhances the diversity of our content.
Newsroom nationality mix
Newsroom gender mix
The South China Morning Post strives for accuracy and corrects any errors on all its platforms, print and digital. If inaccuracy, misleading facts, wrong figures, or distortion occurs, corrections are prompt, clear and open.
For print, corrections are published on page A2 of the newspaper. They include the headline of the story in which the error occurred, the page it appeared, the incorrect information, and what it should have said.
Example - The article "Time to give back at Christmas", published on page C2 of The South China Morning Post on December 10, incorrectly referred to Chris Lee as "he", instead of "she". It also referred to the Po Toi Junior College team by its former name, and not the current name, the Buffaloes.
On digital platforms, we correct errors of fact openly and transparently on the story that contained the inaccuracy, misleading information, incorrect figure or distortion. A corrected story clearly indicates it was corrected.
A correction is indicated at the top of the story on SCMP.com and the bottom of the story off-platform. Corrections should be handled by the most senior production editor on each team in consultation with the senior desk editor.
The style is as follows:
A ‘Corrected’ field will display below the ‘Published’ and ‘Updated’ fields, which are located immediately below the headline and summary, above the body text of the article. The ‘Corrected’ field will be displayed in a prominent colour. It will show the time and date that a story was corrected. A hoverbox will display full details of the correction (see examples below).
For off-platform content, we make corrections to agency copy after consultation with the relevant agency. The ‘Corrected’ field, including timestamp and full description, will be automatically inserted at the end of the article.
TOP OF STORY: At the top of a corrected story, in the beginning of the body of text, you must include the words, in brackets, plain text: (This story has been corrected. For details, see the note at the end of this story).
END OF STORY: At the end of the story, include the full correction. Indicate where in the story the inaccurate information appears, (e.g., first paragraph, thirteenth paragraph, third crosshead) and what it was corrected to say. Put brackets around the correction.
(In crosshead after the fourth paragraph of this story, we incorrectly spelled the name Deng Xiaoping. The story has been corrected.)
(In the 13th paragraph of this story, we incorrectly stated that the decision was made at the company board meeting on Thursday. The board meeting was last January 13.)
For a rolling correction, we can say:
(In paras 12, 14, 18 and 24, we incorrectly spelled Professor John Schmidt. The story has been corrected).
If the basis of a story is deemed to be factually incorrect, or the piece contains so many elements that require correction, the story must be withdrawn. The initial decision to kill a story would be taken by a Desk Head or Senior Editor, but the final decision should not be made without consultation with the Editor in Chief.
Print withdrawals are published on page A2 of the newspaper. They include the headline of the story which has been withdrawn, the page it appeared, and the reason for the withdrawal.
Example - The article "Time to give back at Christmas", published on page C2 of The South China Morning Post on December 10, was factually incorrect/contained many factual errors and is withdrawn.
On digital platforms, we withdraw stories openly and transparently, giving the reason for the withdrawal and deletion from the website.
1. The story is ‘noted out’ (i.e. removed from public view) in the system (currently methode/drupal) and the story replaced with the withdrawal template*.
2. Any summaries are removed, but the headline retained. The headline will be edited with WITHDRAWN (note: capital letters) ahead of the original headline. If the headline undermines public safety or presents legal dangers, it may be edited first according to senior editors.
3. Generic ‘Withdrawn’ image to be added as thumbnail and lead image. All other images and assets to be removed.
4. Story is republished to display only the headline, edited to add WITHDRAWN at the front, and the withdrawal notice* in the space the story occupied. This way the reason for withdrawal is transparent and available to anyone who has shared/saved the story.
5. After republishing, take the following steps:
- Remove from all homepage and section page queues
- Contact product team to remove from AI recommendations
- Contact social media team - edit all original posts by replacing post text with the correction
- Contact content resources, marketing, digital and partnerships teams to alert them that the story has been withdrawn and should not be distributed
Editor to inform author and copy editor of the action taken
*The Withdrawal advisory would say: " In this article, it was incorrectly reported xxxx (or) the story contained multiple errors and is withdrawn. There will be no substitute story."
Ownership Structure, Funding and Grants
SCMP was founded in Hong Kong on November 6, 1903 by Tse Tsan-tai and Alfred Cunningham, and remains headquartered in Hong Kong.
Freedom of speech and press are protected by Article 27 of Hong Kong's de-facto constitution, the Basic Law, and the city enjoys a high degree of autonomy with a different governance and legal structure to mainland China. The city has a common law system with an independent judiciary, and therefore benefits from a consistent and fundamental rule of law, one that defends freedom of expression.
The South China Morning Post Publishers Limited is wholly owned by Alibaba Group Holding Limited, a holding company with subsidiaries in internet infrastructure, electronic commerce and online services, traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Upon its acquisition of the South China Morning Post (completed on April 5, 2016), Alibaba Group articulated its commitment to the newspaper’s editorial independence.
“In reporting the news, the South China Morning Post will be objective, accurate and fair. This means having the courage to go against conventional wisdom, and taking care to verify stories, check sources and seek all viewpoints. These day-to-day editorial decisions will be driven by editors in the newsroom, not in the corporate boardroom,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman, Alibaba Group Holding Limited.
Alibaba Founder and former Executive Chairman Jack Ma added, “The paper’s China coverage should be objective, reasonable and impartial … I have neither the experience nor desire to interfere with the newsroom operation. I will not take part in the editorial decision-making.”
Since the acquisition, all editorial decision-making has remained within the newsroom. We disclose our ownership structure on any stories that mention our parent company or its primary subsidiaries.
Gary Liu, the Post’s chief executive, said the newspaper holds its editorial integrity and convictions as sacrosanct. "I think that, under any ownership model, journalists have an accountability to the discovery and dissemination of truth ... what I see day in and day out in the South China Morning Post newsroom is journalists fighting for the truth," said Mr. Liu.
The South China Morning Post is primarily funded via its business operations which include advertising and marketing solutions, branded content, circulation and syndication, events, print production and recruitment services.
November 6, 1903
Verification/Fact Checking Standards
The South China Morning Post holds accuracy sacrosanct and always strives to authenticate data and material used in stories. Material and information are gathered from respected and high-level publications and organisations, and double checked. Those providing information are chosen from respected and ethical companies, official bodies and publications. We always confirm facts with subject-matter experts, or available official data. We make clear technical terms and statistics in a clear way to readers, and provide evidence against source documents if necessary. We stand by the information as accurate, and if not, we will correct it as quickly as possible and be transparent about the magnitude of the error. Any query by a reader will be thoroughly investigated and verified before a correction or clarification is issued.
The source of any information is clearly identified in copy, including the full title of subject matter experts to make clear its veracity. The Post has a strict policy surrounding single-sourced stories and states in its Code of Conduct that such stories can only move with the permission of a senior editorial manager.
The Post has a strict and transparent corrections policy and a feedback loop that readers can use to highlight anything they believe to be inaccurate. We welcome readers to email SCMP if they believe something is incorrect or for feedback. [email protected]
The South China Morning Post is part of First Draft's community of practice, which brings together social platforms, newsrooms, professional associations, research labs, and universities to find and test shared solutions to the challenges of sourcing information-claim verification in an ethical way, and reporting stories that emerge online. Central to the First Draft approach is the open sharing of research and tools that help stop the spread of mis- and dis-information online. First Draft's community of practice
Unnamed Sources Policy
Anonymous sources can only be used with the permission of a manager. In cases where anonymity is required, extraordinary care must be exercised to ascertain the veracity of information so provided, and only used at the discretion of the manager.
Therefore, it is permitted for South China Morning Post journalists to quote unnamed sources, as long as it is in the interests of protecting individuals or groups from danger, intimidation or adverse effects on their livelihood, profession or family.
Journalists are committed to avoiding using the blanket term ‘source’ and must strive to explain why that person is in a position to provide useful information, for example, ‘a person present at the meeting’, or ‘a senior official with first-hand knowledge of the talks’.
Reader Engagement and Feedback
Reader Comments on SCMP.com
The South China Morning Post welcomes reader contributions, comments and feedback and has a variety of ways for you to join in the conversation.
In keeping with the South China Morning Post’s vision to Elevate Thought, we encourage polite and lively debate and commentary from readers on our web site and our social media pages. Please refrain from posting defamatory statements, hate speech, insults, rude or hostile comments, or any statements that run counter to our policy supporting diversity and inclusion. It is perfectly acceptable to criticise an argument, angle or column, but please refrain from personal attacks on the authors. Reader comments are moderated for violations of our comments policy and violations can result in deletion of the comment or suspension of the account.
Readers may comment on most stories on SCMP.com. We close comments for some third party content subject to contract restrictions and for some stories that are subject to pending court cases, breaking news, crimes in progress or stories related to minors.
To comment on articles, click into any story, click on COMMENTS button and log in or register to add your view.
Many of our readers have great news stories to tell. If you have a news tip or story to contribute, please contact the South China Morning Post. [email protected]
Photos Or Video
In an age where everyone can capture photos or videos on their phone, South China Morning Post readers can become photographers and video journalists for a day. If you have captured news images or video that you wish to send to us for possible publication please contact us. [email protected]
Letters To The Editor
We welcome all letters. Include your name, address and telephone number, for verification. Only your name and the district you reside in will be published. We also welcome brevity. Please keep letters to a maximum of 400 words.
Email: [email protected]
Mail: Letters to the Editor, 19/F Tower One, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
You may also comment on stories posted on our stories on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. Please adhere to our comments policy.
Errors And Corrections
We correct our mistakes. If you spot an error of fact in any of our stories, you can email us at [email protected]
Senior editors respond to feedback and suggestions from the public where appropriate.
Newsroom Contact Information
The South China Morning Post Publishers 19/F, Tower 1, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2565-2222 and Fax: (852) 2811-1048.
The South China Morning Post newspaper is printed and published by South China Morning Post Publishers Limited, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong. Tel: 2680 8888.
For Newsroom Contact Information visit: Contact Us
Letters to the Editor (for publication): [email protected]
News tips/corrections: [email protected]
Tammy Tam Wai Yee
Editor-in-Chief, South China Morning Post
Tammy Tam is the South China Morning Post’s Editor-in-Chief and is responsible for its editorial direction, strategic development and newsroom operations. She is a Board Member of the World Editors Forum, the leading network for news editors that focuses on the future of quality journalism, newsroom transformation and defending press freedom. She is the vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong News Executives' Association, which is dedicated to promoting press freedom and journalistic ethics.
Tammy has had an extensive career in journalism, having led the coverage of many major local, China and international news events in leadership roles. Prior to joining SCMP, Tammy spent two decades managing editorial teams and corporate development strategies at major television news broadcasters, such as Television Broadcasts Limited, i-CABLE and Asia Television Limited. Tammy holds a master's degree in Journalism, a bachelor's degree in English and a bachelor's degree of Law.
Executive Editor, South China Morning Post
Chow Chung-yan is the Executive Editor of the South China Morning Post, overseeing coverage of key Hong Kong, China, and international stories for both the print and digital platforms. He also manages the photo and graphics departments. As a reporter, Mr Chow covered many landmark events, such as the 2003 SARS outbreak, bird flu, and the Chinese top leadership change in 2007. He was previously the SCMP’s Chief News Editor and China Editor before being promoted to his current position.
Executive Managing Editor, South China Morning Post
Zuraidah Ibrahim is the Executive Managing Editor of South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's English language daily. She leads the city and foreign desks and also runs a Sunday magazine, This Week in Asia which won Best News Website from Wan-Ifra in 2017. She was previously deputy editor of The Straits Times in Singapore, and had stints as the paper's political editor and foreign editor. Among her published works are a co-authored book Lee Kuan Yew, Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going (2011) and a monograph on the Singapore opposition (2017). She studied political science in the United States and Singapore.
Editorial Best Practices
Below are the South China Morning Post values:
- Always willing to go the extra mile
- Continuously seeks to improve
- Strives to make a difference
- Able to influence and energize others
- Strives for personal and team accomplishment
Focused On Those We Serve
- Always possesses a willingness to serve, whether external customers, or colleagues
- Identifies with ‘customers’ and goes above and beyond to exceed expectations
- Strives to become a ‘user experience’ expert, and builds products, services, and processes to achieve the best possible experience
- Proactive and creative in exploring ways to understand feedback
- Practices responsible journalism to serve our readers and users
Curious & Courageous
- Seeks to understand the perspective of others, without judgement
- Not afraid to explore, not afraid of failure
- Never satisfied with the status quo, and asks the hard questions
- Willing to step out of your own comfort zone to learn new skills and knowledge
- Possesses a strong sense of ethics, and willing to fight for them
- Acts with boldness, taking measures risks while being willing to take responsibility
Agile & Dynamic
- Speedy, effective, and efficient
- Thinks outside the box: adaptable, flexible, and able to incorporate feedback
- Proactively asks for opinions and seeks help to achieve the best results
- Always looks for solutions, and steps up to obstacles and challenges
- Consistently evaluates the “the current” with intent to build towards “the future”
- Encourages and leads teams and peers with agility and dynamism
Together, Transparent, & Trustworthy
- Leads by example, and always team-first
- Communicates regularly with clarity, sincerity, purpose, and trust
- Never uses information or knowledge to leverage colleagues
- Volunteers help and support to others, even in the absence of personal reward
- Always willing to ask for and accept help from others
- Present and engaged, willing to voice differing opinions, but able to accept leadership decisions
Diverse, Vibrant, & Joyful
- Celebrates diversity of thought, opinion, and experience across our company
- Never judges others based on outward appearance, and is respectful and inclusive of all
- Has a positive attitude, and encourages others to carry optimism into the workplace
- Recognizes and readily celebrates the achievements of others
- Consistently shows appreciation for those who serve and support
- Balances and hard work with and effort to build community across the company
Best Policies Relevant to the Work
When relevant, we will link to Code of Conduct or Actionable Feedback, Sourcing Policy, Corrections Policy on a story.
Participation in the Trust Project
The South China Morning Post participates in the Trust Project, a consortium of top news companies which have developed transparency standards to help readers easily assess quality and credible journalism. The Trust Project
No Byline Policy Explanation
All South China Morning Post stories, print and online, will carry a byline, and the online stories carry a photo byline of our journalists.
On rare occasions, the Post will leave a byline off of a story if it might put the journalist in danger. For example, when covering stories about potentially violent criminals, hostile governments, or those likely to endanger or have an impact on the journalist or their family, friends, or livelihood. This decision will be made by a senior editor.
Additionally, we will forgo bylines on breaking news stories in order to get stories to readers as quickly as possible.
On some pages you will see bylines from news agencies rather than SCMP staff. We trust news agencies to help us cover the world as fully as possible and to adhere to the highest journalistic standards.
Type of Work Indicators
News Label Type of Work Indicator
News: Based on facts, whether observed by our reporter or verified from reliable sources. They do not include the opinion of the author. Each news story is labelled according to its topic (eg. Politics, society, diplomacy and defence etc).
Explainer: Provide background, definition and detail of a specific topic, helping the reader understand how something works or what has happened in the past. (Eg. What is Nafta? US and Mexico are on the verge of revising trade deal.)
Analysis: Based on factual reporting but incorporating the expertise of the author, offering interpretations and conclusions. (Eg. Clash of Civilisations in South China Sea: will China or the US prevail?)
Opinion: Expresses the views, ideas and conclusions of the author. (Eg. Enough of Crazy Rich Asians, think of crazy poor Hongkongers.)
Review: An assessment or critique of a service, product or creative endeavour. Film reviews, restaurant reviews, reviews of art exhibitions. (Eg. Crazy Rich Asians: an important film, yes, but a good one?)
Advertising/Sponsored/Supported Label Type of Work Indicator
Advertising Content: Also referred to at SCMP as ‘Paid Post,’ is written for, or by, an advertiser and has no editorial input or review from the South China Morning Post, nor does it reflect the position of or the editorial standards used by the SCMP. The advertiser has paid for and approved the content. The SCMP newsroom was not involved in the creation of this content.
Branded Content: Refers to content created by the South China Morning Post on behalf of a client referenced as “In Partnership With”. The content is created to the same editorial standards and policies of the South China Morning Post in the first instance, but can be vetted, influenced or amended by a client. The SCMP newsroom was not involved in the creation of this content.
Supported By: Refers to content created by the South China Morning Post's editorial team to the same standards and policies of the South China Morning Post, and produced with financial support from an organization or individual interested in underwriting the overall coverage or in expanding attention to a particular topic. It is not vetted, influenced, amended or reviewed before publishing by a client. The SCMP newsroom was involved in the creation of this content and adhered to Editorial Standards and Practices in producing the content.
We indicate the location that a reporter did their work in all stories outside of Hong Kong, in print and on digital platforms. If the reporter is from a bureau, for instance, we will dateline their stories Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, New York or Washington. We also give datelines to stringers based on their location, for example, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta.
If the reporter or stringer travels to report a story, we will show the dateline to indicate where they were reporting. For example, if our reporter covered an Asean meeting in the capital of Brunei, we would dateline the story: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei; or if they are reporting on floods in southern India from the capital of Kerala state, we would dateline: Thiruvananthapuram, India; or reporting on talks between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, we would dateline the story: Singapore.
Sourcing and Methodology Statement
For major investigative stories and those requiring in-depth research, we will publish online a summary of the methods and sources we used to produce the story. We will tell the readers how we did it. This may include explaining how the story was conceived, who worked on it, where they travelled, and what source material they used. It might mention how many interviews were conducted, what data was used, and how any problems were overcome.
Citations and References Indicators
Linking to internal and external material used as a source for stories
Linking to source material adds credibility to our stories by allowing the reader to easily access information on which the story was based.
This is required for major investigative stories, explanatory stories, and stories which require in-depth research, especially those involving use of documents and, or, data.
Where possible, link to source material including public documents (Press statements, government reports etc), data collected, reports of other publications if they have been used as source material for the story, online biographies of experts quoted, transcripts of interviews.
Explaining source material
As a minimum standard in all stories, ensure that the key sources for the story are described, including documents, data, and details of people quoted.
Hoaxes guidelines - For Reporting, Social Media, Video and Photos
- Treat all news coming from someone you are not familiar with as suspect. Whether they contact you by phone, email, direct message or other means, their identity must be verified. Do this before wasting valuable time on reporting and writing, and certainly before publication.
- Inform your supervisor that you have a news story from an unknown source and are trying to verify their authenticity.
- Handle cold calls or emails from unfamiliar sources offering news tips with great caution. If you do not know the individual, ask them for their Name, Title, Company and Work Phone and tell them you will call them back.
- Immediately check the company web site for a directory, call their main number and ask for the person by name, do a search online to see if they exist.
- Call the person back via the company main number. Confirm that they are the one that actually called you.
- In work-from-home environments, be extra cautious, as calling their mobile will not be enough. Check the company website for a staff directory. If there is none, call or check with their department head, or HR department to verify employment.
- Treat information on the Internet with suspicion - corporate statements can be faked. Call to confirm that a news/press release is actually from the company.
- Is their news release not following the company’s usual routine? Check it out. If a company issues press releases a certain way, month in-month out, and then suddenly changes up, call and verify that they have actually released it.
- Such statements can suddenly disappear - so take a screenshot for reference later.
- Be particularly wary about information on a company’s performance - ask yourself if the company’s share price will potentially move -- up or down -- if we break the story. Is it defamatory? In all cases, flag this to a senior editor.
- Be careful of other news media reports that sound far fetched. State media around the world have on occasion picked up reports from the Onion. If we pick up their story, we are essentially falling for the same hoax.
- Be extra vigilant on or around April 1, during which there will be the inevitable rush of April Fool pranksters.
- Beware of stories that sound too good to be true - e.g. Mark Six Millionaire donates all, Yeti sightings, Shangri-La discoveries, The Hitler Diaries.
- Make sure you have verified the source of the story and its accuracy before publication.
- Treat information on Facebook, Twitter, Weibo and other social media with great caution - as we are aware, they are frequent vehicles for fake news reports.
- Look for platforms’ verification tools - the famous blue ticks on accounts that signify the platform holder has confirmed that people are who they say they are.
- Take screenshots of posts you are referring to, or citing, in the event they are later edited or deleted.
- Images/screenshots of social media posts can be easily faked. Insist on a link to the original post to verify for yourself, or take with a big pinch of salt.
- Know which platforms allow editing - Facebook posts can be edited, and should show an edit history, while tweets cannot be edited.
- If a tweet or post from a verified account appears unbelievable, check with your sources/contacts at the organisation or person that owns the account.
- Timestamps on certain platforms, notably Facebook, can be altered, which adds a flag on the post. Don’t take them at face value.
- Different social platforms display timestamps differently, so verify if the time zone is yours, or the original poster’s.
- If the video is from an agency they will already have verified it, or they will have indicated they were unable to.
- If the video is from social media or messaging groups, remain sceptical and look for flaws.
- Social media is better as you can contact the person who put up the post and try to track down the source.
- Video from messaging apps is near impossible to trace, but that video can be verified by looking for indicators in the video itself.
- You are looking for whether that video is current and whether it matches an event you know to have taken place.
- Look for clues, such as, does the weather match the conditions when the incident was supposed to have happened?
- People’s clothes will indicate the season. If people are wearing heavy coats and it’s summer, chances are the video was taken a long time ago.
- Check the video quality. If it is recent, chances are the video will have a good quality picture. If it’s 4x3 instead of 16x9, the video is not current. If the video is super grainy, it could also be old.
- Look for geographic markers in the video. Can you recognise the street? Do we know where the incident is supposed to have taken place? Do a google street view of the place of the event and try to tally that up with what you see in the video.
- If the video contains a known person, or you have an eye witness to the incident, you can contact them and ask them to verify its authenticity.
- There is no magic software that can tell a “deep fake”. If something seems fishy, it probably is. Look for flaws like out-of-sync audio or a slight lag in the movements of a person’s features compared to their head.
- Never take unsourced video at face value. Assume it is fake and try to find fault.
- If you think a video is genuine given the context, content and what you know about the incident, but you cannot get verification from an eyewitness or a person familiar with the incident, you can still publish but you should;
a) Clear it with your supervisor
b) Make it clear in the accompanying description what the video ‘appears to show’ and that the SCMP cannot independently verify the video.
- Don’t pick up photos from the internet, social media or email without verifying them.
- Flag them to a photo editor immediately for checks.
- Please refer to the First Draft Coalition’s toolkit to verify images that you regard as suspect: https://start.me/p/vjv80b/first-draft-basic-toolkit