Frequently asked questions
Sunday 03 March 2013
Do you let your columnists say anything they like?
We naturally take full, editorial responsibility for any journalistic material that appears in our newspapers or online and every article goes through an editing process. But when it comes to comment or opinion pieces, we obviously want our columnists to express their personal opinions, even if their views are at odds with the ‘editorial line’ of the paper (as set out in the leader column each day).
Sometimes, we are aware that columnists will set out opinions which are controversial, divisive or provocative and that some people may be offended as a result. It is naturally a matter of regret that anybody should be upset or offended by something they read in our titles but, in the final analysis, we would prefer that our writers should occasionally provoke such a reaction than, instead, be bland and anodyne in what they say, or fear expressing thoughts they believe to be important, however contentious they may be.
We are always glad to hear feedback about our columnists but please be aware that we support their right to express personal views which may not meet with universal agreement.
Are you supposed to be impartial in your journalism?
We endeavour to report news events accurately and without distortion. However, this does not mean our titles might not take a definite stance on any given issue, whether political or otherwise. And as noted above, individual columnists are entitled to set out their personal opinions about any issue they choose – or are commissioned – to write about.
Do you prohibit the use of particular words or terms?
There are a number of terms that we use with caution but we do not believe there are any particular words which are so beyond the pale that they cannot be used in any circumstances. We do block some terms from use in reader comments in order to limit gratuitous swearing and discrimination.
Why don’t you allow readers to comment on every story on your website?
A relatively high number of the stories we publish relate to matters where there are attendant legal proceedings or other issues. In such circumstances there may be restrictions on what information we can report and, as such, it is important that reader comments are not used to circumvent legal limitations. In these instances, therefore, we do not open the reader comment function for use. Similarly, we do not wish our website to be hijacked by people whose aim is to cause offence by gratuitously attacking others in print. Occasionally, therefore, we will make the decision to close reader comments on a story that is attracting offensive commentary.
There is an old article about me on your site. Can I get it taken down?
We generally remove material from our website only in exceptional circumstances - for instance if it is materially inaccurate or if it contains information that is intrinsically private.
All articles are date-stamped so that readers can gauge their historical context and, from our point of view, it is important that we retain as full an archive of our material as possible. While we appreciate that some individuals will have been the subject of coverage that might be regarded as negative, we would not usually accede to a request to take a piece down simply on the basis that its existence online is a source of unhappiness.
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