What does it mean to be a GVer?

A group photo from the Global Voices Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

A group photo from the Global Voices Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

In December 2014 and January 2015 nine GV Community members (Anna Schetnikova, Annie Zaman, Laura Schneider, Milan Ončak, Rami Alhames, Salman Latif, Owen Guo, and Asteris Masouras) tried to make something which could be considered as a draft of GV Code of Ethics.

For what reason? Well, perhaps, all of us wanted to contribute to the process of GV development, so each one decided to take part in a pre-summit working group. And from 19 groups we have chosen the group №8, Towards a GV Code of Ethics. Why? For me, it was an effort to see the GV community as a whole and to find an answer to the question: what does it mean that I am a GVer?

As soon as the groups were formed, we started to work. We had a preposition: What does it mean to be a GVer? How do we uphold GV's ideals and principles on a personal level? And an objective: Develop a set of guidelines that help GVers create a common understanding of what membership in this wonderful community means.

Firstly, we brainstormed to find answers to some key questions: how the Code of Ethics should look like and what we want to include in it? It was an interesting process as we were sharing our ideas about GV and GVers and trying to find common ground. After a while we created a template of our future code and started to fill it by our ideas from the brainstorming process. Of course, we developed new ideas and forms all the time, and finally we made the following text.

The draft of the Global Voices’ Code of Ethic

1. Preface

This Code of Ethics should provide a common understanding of what being part of in the Global Voices (GV) community means. It outlines how we should uphold the GV principles and ideals on the personal level. It deals not only with questions about the editorial/writing process, but tries to describe the project as a whole and deals with work of everyone of the GV community.

These set of guidelines or code of ethics can be considered as modular and should be changed as necessary.

2. What makes a GVers?- An important question

2.1. Values and principles of Global Voices and qualities of a GVer:

This part deals with our values and principles, which we always try to remember during writing, translating and promoting .

2.1.1 Our values:

1. The main document which we try to follow when speaking about our values is the Global Voices Manifesto. The first sentence of it says, “We believe in free speech: in protecting the right to speak — and the right to listen.” So free speech and the right for expression are our the most important values.

2. Another important value is respect for opinions of other/others point of view. “We pledge to respect, assist, teach, learn from, and listen to one another.” This applies mainly to the opinions we do not agree with. It is also not acceptable mock anyone for their opinions. Even when dealing with hate speech, the “opinion” itself might be deemed unacceptable – however, do not humiliate persons advocating this “point of view”.

3. We avoid any stereotypes based on race, gender, age, religion, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status. We avoid using hate speech against any group or reproducing hate speech (in a form of a Facebook comment, tweet etc.) without giving context.

2.1.2 Who is a GVer?

As we all respect these values and try to follow them, there are qualities which a GVers try to develop- these qualities may not make you a star journalist or may not produce a ‘quality’ journalistic post but it makes you a GVer.

Neutralitywithin GV published posts: GVer is to be an objective and proofs provider when it comes to facing personal political/social/religious conflicts.
Accountability: here we gain trust of what posted and translated and in front of other organizations/conferences/meetings.
Voluntary service: even some of GVers are paid, self-esteem and belonging to group where represent yourself freely is the main GVer preserved right to join and stay. GV is not prompt in any manner by desire of gain.
Universal: GV is an international movement shares responsibilities and duties around the world equally.
Few more points gathered from the community members – the traits they associate with themselves as GVers

1. Love for justice
2. Tolerance
3. Ability to listen: be open minded and listen to all opinions. Try to make every voice heard.
4. Responsibility: make sure that sources are correct. No copy paste without adding the source.
5. Ability to dig into details which clarify aspects of discussion and help to reach a broader audience
6. Curiosity
7. Self motivation
8. Enthusiastic to change by promoting change
9. Ability to learn fast

2.2 Reporting:

The main document in relation to the reporting is our Editorial Code. Our main principles in relation to the reporting are:

2.2.1. Accuracy with facts and sources
Sources should be always cited in the same context as they were written, i.e. avoid any shift of meaning when you cite.
Facts should be always confirmed by several sources, preferably trustworthy (e.g. big media). When they are not, words such as “allegedly”, “reportedly, “supposedly” etc. should be always used.

2.2.2. Faithfulness to GV values and principles, especially avoiding of stereotypes and labels.

2.2.3. Avoiding conflict of interest
Conflict of interest should be always avoided. When this is not possible, disclaimer should be added at the beginning or at the end of the post.

2.2.4. Minimization of harm that can be caused by a story
When publishing any facts or any material (photo, video), always ask yourself a question – could this harm the persons involved?

2.2.5. No plagiarism
Always indicate an author of a citation or a photo, and never violate author’s rights.

2.3 Translations:

Our main principles in relation to the translation of our stories are:

2.3.1. Avoiding misrepresentation of an author’s words
A translator is responsible for keeping the meaning of an original story

2.3.2. Omitting parts of original story
Do not omit parts of a story to misrepresent or totally change its meaning.

2.3.3. Providing context
Do not hesitate to provide any context in case you feel that it is missing from the article. When mentioning some person for the first time, basic information should be always given, especially in tweets/Facebook posts where users often speak about local events.

2.4 Promotion:

Our main principles in relation to the promotion of our stories are:

2.4.1. Adherence of our republishing guidelines

2.4.2. When talking or writing about GV and its articles, try to avoid any misrepresentation of the content of those articles or the mission of GV.

2.5 Community: It is about interaction, communication, management of volunteers and dealing with complaints.

2.5.1. Members of Global Voices community come from many countries, languages
and cultures. We avoid discrimination of any of them on the basis of race, colour, religion, gender, age, nationality, sexual orientation, or disability.

2.5.2 All members of the community have equal opportunities to participate in the work of the project.

2.5.3. All members of GV Community try to communicate with due respect to each other.

2.5.4. Anyone must feel free to make a proposal of any kind for the development of GV.

2.5.5. All conversations in the community lists are private and should not be disseminated to the public.

2.5.6 If there is a conflict between any members of our team, it should be dealt in an open manner and with due respect to the opinions of both sides. If there is a serious conflict that cannot be resolved by its sides, one (or both) of those sides should communicate with the representatives of the community on the Board. All complaints should be given without any fear of possible consequences (revenge etc.). Harassment is strongly prohibited. In a case of harassment it is needed to contact the community representatives.

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