Ethics, Standards and Corrections

Updated: April 25, 2021 | For ESTNN authors and interested parties

Sourcing, Plagiarism and Attribution

Embeds

Breaking news such as social media posts referring to tournament activities, team rosters and patch notes should always be embedded. Where possible when quoting a public commentator, player or organization's social media post we should embed the post within the article. If the article is already heavy with embeds, or the quote is part of a long thread chain of comments, we may link to the source of the quote in the body copy. If the public figure requests the embed be removed, we may entertain this request, however as these posts are already public and published on the individual's timelines, we reserve the right to refuse if we feel the embed adds important or necessary context to the piece. When the quoted posts are from a fan or private commentator, writers should endeavor to contact and seek permission to include an embed. If permission is refused in this instance the embed should not be used or referenced.

Fact-Checking

Ensure that all information provided is correct. Our writers are expected to be accurate and provide information that can be traced to a trusted and verified source. Editors are expected to flag any questions about the information provided before a piece goes live. We can always update and include additional information after a piece goes live. It is much more difficult to issue a retraction if the information isn’t valid. If a writer is unsure, refer the information to an editor so that a decision can be made to hold or publish.

Plagiarism

ESTNN does not allow any form of plagiarism. Editors regularly audit and check articles using software that can detect instances of plagiarism. ESTNN expects all writers to transcribe information into their own unique words, this includes information in press releases. Wholesale copying and pasting from other sources will not be tolerated. Any writer found to be plagiarizing their work will be terminated.

Quotes

Anonymous quotes: ESTNN likes to avoid anonymous quotes, however, there are times when it is unavoidable. Writers should always remember that interviews are on the record unless you have agreed to go off the record or on background. There are very few reasons to proceed with an off-the-record interview in our industry, so this is heavily discouraged. If you have a story that will require anonymous quotes please refer this story and your source to an editor. The editor will work with you and the source to find alternative attribution if possible. This could include using a pseudonym or an online tag. Where an anonymous quote must be used, writers need to explain that we first tried to get the source on the record. Example: “X spoke with ESTNN only on the condition that she not be named.” Where possible we should provide information that identifies why the source was used, without directly identifying them. Example: “According to the source, whose work brings them into close contact with employees of Riot Games…” Writers should take careful precautions not to reveal the identity of confidential sources, including avoiding putting a source’s name in writing on unsecured channels. Attribution: All quotes must be attributed to their source. When a quote has been given directly to ESTNN, it should be indicated at points in the body copy. For example “X told ESTNN,” or “X spoke to ESTNN”. Quotes from other outlets must be attributed to that outlet: “told ESPN,” etc. with a link to the article the quote has been taken from. Quotes that come from press releases can be attributed to the individual making the announcement or the press release in general. Example “…said Jack Etienne, CEO of Cloud 9,” or “Cloud 9 stated in a press release.” Quote approval: ESTNN writers do not send their drafts to sources or interview subjects with the promise of approval. Sources are not permitted to have their quotes approved before publication. All quotes generated in ESTNN’s stories are on the record. A writer may choose to share a link to their story with a source when it goes live as a courtesy and to allow them to share it with their own audience. However, the source cannot request any changes from the writer in relation to quoted material. Spelling errors in names, incorrect job titles, or other such minor corrections can be requested. Where there are allegations of a serious or disputed nature, a writer may email an individual out of courtesy to let them know the subject matter of the story and provide them an opportunity to address the claims and offer their own quote. Never agree to the approval of a source’s quotes without first speaking to an editor! Quote disputes: If a source disputes a quote as published, then the writer and their editor will review the writer’s notes and/or recordings to determine if the quote has been published inaccurately. If it is inaccurate, the quote will be updated and a correction issued in the body copy of the piece. If a source disputes the way their position was characterized, rather than a specific quote, the writer can refer this complaint to an editor who will review the necessary materials to determine whether the the complaint is warranted.

Updates, Corrections and Edits

Updates and Corrections to the Body Copy

When an article will require an update or a correction to be published the writer should refer the updates/corrections to the editor on duty to ensure they are adjusted in a timely manner. There are some stories that may require rolling updates, such as breaking news about a title, coverage of a tournament or convention, or other ongoing events. These stories can be updated with information as it becomes available. Writers should indicate in the body copy when updates will be forthcoming on a piece.  Example: “Stay tuned for updates as ESTNN brings you more on this developing story.” When a story is updated a line should be placed within the body copy indicating the date the information is current. Example: “This article was updated with further details and is correct as of May 10.”

Deletions

As a general rule, no news items on the site should be deleted. There may be occasions where an article will need to be removed, especially in circumstances where legal guidelines or authorities have requested the removal of material. In these instances, ESTNN will comply with this advice. If some information in an article is incorrect or out of date, it is acceptable to remove that information from the body copy of the article. If the information is an update, refer to the above section on how to indicate this to the reader. Although we strive to avoid it through due diligence and fact-checking, there may be instances where we get ‘hoaxed’. If this occurs, rather than deleting the piece it should be updated to indicate that the story is false and a correction issued. An apology may also be issued if an editor feels it is necessary.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Allegations

ESTNN strives to avoid printing any unsubstantiated allegations against any individuals. As a rule of thumb, our website does not cover gossip or smears against an individual's character. When a serious allegation is made against a member of the industry we are required to report on any actions taken by relevant stakeholders, legal authorities, and ruling and legislative bodies. In the rare instance that ESTNN has a story to break with serious allegations, the editorial team will engage legal counsel before such a story is published. In these instances, writers are encouraged to contact the individual subject to the allegation detailing them and providing them with time to comment. Any writer who feels they have a story of this nature should contact the editorial team immediately to discuss the proper process.

Compensating Sources

ESTNN never pays sources for interviews. This standpoint is non-negotiable.

Conflict of Interest and Disclosure

A good rule of thumb is if you’re asking the question is this a conflict of interest? It probably is. Determining whether reporting on a person or issue would be a conflict of interest is an important step all writers need to take when they approach a story. Ask yourself some simple questions: Do I have a financial or personal involvement in the subject of this story? Is the subject of the story a close personal friend, family member, or significant other? Writers should not report on subjects in which they have a conflict of interest in. When unsure about whether or not a story constitutes a conflict of interest, writers should discuss it with one of the editorial team.

Disclosing Provided Materials

Whenever ESTNN is provided with a game or item to review, we should disclose this within the article so the reader is aware.

Gifts

ESTNN writers do not accept gifts from sources, organizations or other subjects/figures we are reporting on. Any gifts received will either be returned to the sender or donated. Some exceptions exist and we encourage writers to use their common sense. Sharing a pizza at a live event with an org’s PR person is fine. Accepting an item or donation of a greater value than $20 is not appropriate.

Graphic Content

ESTNN has no reason to be posting graphic content including nudity or sexually explicit content, gratuitous violence and extreme profanity. That said, ESTNN is a site that covers the gaming and esports industry and so mild profanity, especially when quoting an individual, may be tolerated.

Interviews

As ESTNN has a remote, global workforce and conducts a great many of its interviews online, questions can be provided to interview subjects ahead of time. It’s also important to provide time for sources to respond due to the flexible and fast-paced nature of esports. Teams often travel between cities and countries to play at events and so interviews, especially on the player side, can take time. Be as flexible as possible with the deadlines. A good rule of thumb is two weeks. Email interviews are permitted, please be sure to maintain a record of the email discussions in case an editor needs to go over them to address an attribution or correction issue. Video/voice interviews via discord or google hangouts are also permitted. However, if conducting a video/voice interview it is imperative that writers ensure they keep a recording of this interview for ethics and compliance purposes. Writers can use OBS to record videos without streaming them to a channel or server. If you’re unfamiliar with how to set this program up, contact Eliana in the staff discord and she will assist you. Always remember to advise sources that their interview is on the record and will be recorded before you begin. ESTNN does not accept or offer phone interviews due to the remote nature of our workforce and the differing legislation surrounding recording telephone calls.

Travel, Junkets, and Event Attendance

In the instance that ESTNN are invited to attend an event, it is not acceptable for writers to accept funds for travel, lodging, or accommodation from the event organizers unless they have been advised it is appropriate by the Editor in Chief. If ESTNN has accepted travel or lodging for a story it will be disclosed in the body copy of the piece.
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