Editorial Policy

MedicoPRESS is committed to the highest standards of independent Medical Journalism (MJ).

Preamble
As a medical communication organization, we serve the public’s right to seek, obtain and disseminate information, as provided for under Article 18 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977.

The Article states that: -“Every person(a) Has a freedom of opinion and expression of his ideas; (b) Has a right to seek, receive and/or disseminate information regardless of national boundaries; (c) Has the freedom to communicate and a freedom with protection from interference from his communication; and (d) has a right to be informed at all times of various important events of life and activities of the people and also of issues of importance to the society”.

MedicoPRESS will strive to deliver well-researched, accurate and unbiased medical information. We pledge to exercise our role with great care and responsibility to safeguard public trust in our integrity.

Our core values are reflected in the MedicoPRESS charter.

  1. How MedicoPRESS defines medical journalism  

At Medico PRESS we define Medical Journalism (MJ) as the process of gathering and reporting evidence-based medical information. We recognize the analysis of medical information by medical professionals and researchers as an important part of MJ.

We, at MedicoPRESS, recognize that medicine is a complex subject in a constantly changing field, in terms of research and standards of practice. Our role, therefore, is to work with accredited Tanzanian journalists and experts in medical science to ensure that complex medical information is simplified for wider public use.

We, therefore, work to ensure that consumers of medical information receive medical news, opinions and latest research developments in medical science from trusted sources and in the most comprehensible form and language.

Our readers are left to raise questions and draw their own conclusions about medical facts we present but, where necessary, we urge them to seek consultation with physicians, researchers and other experts. 

1.1. How we treat information from medical research findings and scientists

Given that MedicoPRESS promotes medical research, most of the information published in our outlet is obtained from medical research findings published in journals or presented at medical/health conferences and from medical scientists themselves. But, we believe not every statement made by a medical scientist is necessarily truthful and not every research paper published in a journal is accurate. We will endeavor to question the integrity of all information we obtain.

We will always ask for evidence for every claim. If a MedicoPRESS journalist or editor is given a journal publication as the evidence from a medical scientist, we will probe further and ask basic questions: Is it peer-reviewed? Do the research methods used and results obtained support the conclusion?

We will strive to get views of credible independent scientists and employ fact-checking methods for all research findings that we want to turn into a story. We will emphasize this approach, especially when dealing with findings that raise suspicious claims.

1.2. Accuracy in reporting & sourcing

MJ is beyond what is published by medical scientists or what the scientists say. MedicoPRESS may obtain information from various sources.  It is our duty to report this information accurately.  

We will evaluate all information provided to us; and always endeavor to get it right, checking the facts and sources, even if publishing deadlines are put at risk. We will make every effort to show readers the chain of evidence we have.


1.3. Controversial claims will require more corroboration with other sources before being published. We will clearly identify and treat with caution all information from secondary sources, such as from other media outlets. We believe a single source is not sufficient to form a publishable medical story.

1.4. We will strive to avoid anonymous sources unless there is no other option by which we can handle the story or there is need for broader/additional evidence. However, we will always seek to protect our sources. In cases where we cannot name the sources, we will generally identify them by reference to their organization, and/or their particular relevance to the story.

1.5. We will grant anonymity if a source requests it for legitimate reasons. We shall reject peddlers of rumour or spinning.

1.6. Plagiarism by writers will not be tolerated.

1.7. The headlines and captions for photos uploaded on our website will fairly reflect the content of every published article.

1.8. We shall strive for accuracy in reporting all details, such as numbers, dates, people’s names and other names. Special attention will be given to how medical data is reported in text and how it is visualized using data tools. Journalists for Medico PRESS shall be required to have the basics of data journalism.

2. Fairness
All sources of information and subjects we report about will be treated fairly. We shall ensure that we respond to any feedback on the form of reporting that may affect them. 

3. Independence
Our main duty is to inform the public. As we perform this role, we will avoid conflicts of interest in matters to do with the financial, political, personal or any other non-professional interests involved. In cases of publishing a story from research findings, we will endeavor to reveal who funded the study.

3.1 We will treat advertising content differently from editorial content and we will be open about it. Any outside support for editorial work, such as through sponsored travel, will be declared in the relevant report.

3.2 Offered gifts of any value will not be acceptable, unless conflict of interest is ruled out at company level.

3.3 MedicoPRESS journalists, who are either staff or freelancers, shall be allowed to take part in outside paid work only if it does not raise conflicts of interest and permission for such work is granted by the editor-in-charge.

4. Minimizing Harm
Media reporting can have a far-reaching impact on sources, audiences, and society generally. We pledge to do everything possible to minimize harm. We will be particularly careful when dealing with vulnerable people and groups.

4.1 We will not fuel hate speech or discrimination of any form. We will also join efforts with other organizations to fight against fake medical news.

4.2 Gender balance is a priority at MedicoPRESS. We shall strive for balance between male and female voices in our articles, whenever possible.

4.3 We will handle with care the social sensitivities that surround religion, death, and the portrayal of nudity, sex and violence.

4.4 We will take great care to avoid the possibility of direct harm to a source of information and ensure that we seek informed consent from them.

4.7 We will ensure that our reporting does not harm children.  We will not do anything that may expose them to abuse, discrimination, retribution, embarrassment or any other risk.

5.  Reporting methods
We shall be open about the ways in which we gather information.

5.1 We will identify ourselves as reporters to sources.

5.2 We will respect off-the-record arrangements. Agreements with sources must be clear and binding.

5.3 We will never pay sources for information.

5.4 We will not allow sources to scrutinize our reports before they are published. However, a reporter may check back with the source for accuracy of technical details, quotes or complex information.

5.5 Records will be kept of all interviews that we conduct either in notes form or audio recording.

  1. Clarifications, Corrections and Retractions

At times we may be faced with a situation where we have to correct an article after it has been published on our website. It may be an error of fact or an omission of key information. MedicoPRESS provides a chance to the sources of our information, such as researchers or interviewees, to contact us for corrections.

6.1. News outlets that may have picked up a story requiring correction will be notified. Readers are also welcome to contact us about any errors. When third parties contact us about an error, we will only make substantive changes to the published article once we have contacted the original sources and verified the error.

6.2 There may be readers—individuals or groups—who disagree with the research findings reported in a published article. In this case, we strongly advise those requesting major changes to contact the original sources. If the original source approves, MedicoPRESS may make the changes as well and the reasons for the corrections shall be made clear on our website.  

6.3 In certain rare cases, MedicoPRESS may retract an article. This will happen in case the journal has retracted the study or serious concerns have been raised about the integrity of the research findings.

  1. How we treat the community of readers

MedicoPRESS offers a space for readers to comment.  This allows our users the opportunity to discuss content, debate issues and take part in discussions on medical science and developments more broadly. However, we strongly encourage readers to observe the following: use real names, focus on medical science and related developments, strive to say something new, not use  inappropriate, abusive or libelous language, not promote business or sales of any kind, always cite the sources of information, not post inappropriate links, and not infringe on someone else’s privacy.

  1. Who may write a commentary/Op-Ed in MedicoPRESS?

As per the preamble of this policy document, MedicoPRESS recognizes the analysis of medical information by medical professionals and researchers as an important part of MJ. To be able to publish a commentary, analysis or  opinion piece in MedicoPRESS,  an author must prove that he/she is a researcher or academician working at a university or research institution or a specialist doctor/clinician (with at least a Master’s Degree in his/her field) at a medical facility in Tanzania. We can also publish commentaries from PhD candidates who are under the supervision of an academician. MedicoPRESS will not publish commentaries from students pursuing an Undergraduate or Master’s Degree. All commentaries will be labeled as such to distinguish them from news and opinions expressed in them are those of the author, not Medico PRESS.  

  1. How we handle PR communication materials

Medical stories that are based on PR material shall be re-written in the news style of MedicoPRESS but we shall endeavor not to misrepresent the key factual content of the PR communication.

  1. Nurturing writers and staff

MedicoPRESS is committed to training and developing its editorial staff and nurturing medical scientists who can communicate scientific information to the public in a clear and concise manner according to best practice standards that are recognized internationally.

  1. Editor’s responsibility

The editor shall be responsible for all matters pertaining to the editorial content and advertisements; published on www.medicopress.media

  1. Promoting Solutions Journalism.

MedicoPRESS shall promote the concept of Solutions Journalism (Sojo) and the practice across Tanzania. The approach to feature stories published on the organization’s website shall focus on how society responds to problems, will anchor the stories on credible evidence to explain how and why responses are working, or not working. MedicoPRESS shall aim at telling the whole story.

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