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 researchers and journalists from The GCRI 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 The GCRI 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 The GCRI journalists, we accept no compensation or other material benefits.
- The GCRI 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 an editorial 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 projects. Consequently: 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 GCRI 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 our employees or our editors. If we detect conflicts of interest, individual employees may be excluded from conducting research on a specific project, or entire investigations may be abandoned by the editorial team of The GCRI. 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.
- The GCRI 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 The GCRI 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 risk and innovation for social impact. 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 thereforehas 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.
Editorial Charter: last updated June 2020