Inside Story

Current affairs & culture from Australia and beyond

Editorial and privacy principles, and complaints process

Inside Story is a member of the Australian Press Council and adheres to its principles and privacy provisions, as follows. If you believe we have breach these principles and provisions, you may lodge a complaint; details of the complaints process are at the bottom of this page.

General principles

Accuracy and clarity
1. Ensure that factual material in news reports and elsewhere is accurate and not misleading, and is distinguishable from other material such as opinion.
2. Provide a correction or other adequate remedial action if published material is significantly inaccurate or misleading.

Fairness and balance
3. Ensure that factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance, and that writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts.
4. Ensure that where material refers adversely to a person, a fair opportunity is given for subsequent publication of a reply if that is reasonably necessary to address a possible breach of General Principle 3.

Privacy and avoidance of harm
5. Avoid intruding on a person’s reasonable expectations of privacy, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.
6. Avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health or safety, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.

Integrity and transparency
7. Avoid publishing material which has been gathered by deceptive or unfair means, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.
8. Ensure that conflicts of interests are avoided or adequately disclosed, and that they do not influence published material.
On Privacy

Privacy Principle 1: Collection of personal information

In gathering news, journalists should seek personal information only in the public interest. In doing so, journalists should not unduly intrude on the privacy of individuals and should show respect for the dignity and sensitivity of people encountered in the course of gathering news.
In accordance with Principle 5 of the Council’s Statement of Principles, news obtained by unfair or dishonest means should not be published unless there is an overriding public interest.

Generally, journalists should identify themselves as such. However, journalists and photographers may at times need to operate surreptitiously to expose crime, significantly antisocial conduct, public deception or some other matter in the public interest.

Public figures necessarily sacrifice their right to privacy, where public scrutiny is in the public interest. However, public figures do not forfeit their right to privacy altogether. Intrusion into their right to privacy must be related to their public duties or activities.

Privacy Principle 2: Use and disclosure of personal information

Personal information gathered by journalists and photographers should only be used for the purpose for which it was intended. A person who supplies personal information should have a reasonable expectation that it will be used for the purpose for which it was collected.

Some personal information, such as addresses or other identifying details, may enable others to intrude on the privacy and safety of individuals who are the subject of news coverage, and their families. To the extent lawful and practicable, a media organisation should only disclose sufficient personal information to identify the persons being reported in the news, so that these risks can be reasonably avoided.

Privacy Principle 3: Quality of personal information

A media organisation should take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information it collects is accurate, complete and up-to-date.

Privacy Principle 4: Security of personal information

A media organisation should take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information it holds is protected from misuse, loss, or unauthorised access.

Privacy Principle 5: Anonymity of sources

All persons who provide information to media organisations are entitled to seek anonymity. The identity of confidential sources should not be revealed, and where it is lawful and practicable, a media organisation should ensure that any personal information which it maintains derived from such sources does not identify the source.

Privacy Principle 6: Correction, fairness and balance

In accordance with Principle 3 of the Council’s Statement of Principles, where individuals are a major focus of news reports or commentary, the publication should ensure fairness and balance in the original article. Failing that, the media organisation should provide a reasonable and swift opportunity for a balancing response in the appropriate section of the publication.

A media organisation should make amends for publishing any personal information that is found to be harmfully inaccurate, in accordance with Principle 2 of the Council’s Statement of Principles. The media organisation should also take steps to correct any of its records containing that personal information, so as to avoid a harmful inaccuracy being repeated.

Privacy Principle 7: Sensitive personal information

In accordance with Principle 8 of the Council’s Statement of Principles, media organisations should not place any gratuitous emphasis on the categories of sensitive personal information listed in Principle 8, except where it is relevant and in the public interest to report and express opinions in these areas.
Members of the public caught up in newsworthy events should not be exploited. A victim or bereaved person has the right to refuse or terminate an interview or photographic session at any time.

Unless otherwise restricted by law or court order, open court hearings are matters of public record and can be reported by the press. Such reports need to be fair and balanced. They should not identify relatives or friends of people accused or convicted of crime unless the reference to them is necessary for the full, fair and accurate reporting of the crime or subsequent legal proceedings.

Complaints process

Articles published by Inside Story are contributed by experienced writers, journalists and researchers and every effort is made to ensure that they are factually accurate. Occasionally factual errors will be made, and we are more than happy to correct these. Opinions expressed in Inside Story will occasionally be at variance with readers’ views; we won’t always be able to present a full spectrum of views on a specific topic, but we are happy to respond to individuals who feel they have been unfairly treated.

Any concerns about articles published in Inside Story should be addressed in the first instance to editor Peter Browne. Please include the URL of the article in dispute, together with details of which of our editorial principles it breaches. You should receive an acknowledgement within two working days and a more substantial response within a week. If our editorial principles have been breached, or we are in breach of any relevant laws, we will make any necessary changes to the article in question, with a note indicating that changes have been made. If you are unhappy with our response to your complaint you may complain to the Australian Press Council.