Not only do the Gee Gee team write for the media, but we’re avid consumers of the media too. However, over the last few years, we have become disenchanted with the direction in which things are heading. The constant harassment, the trolling, the negative speculation, capitalising on grief… It’s all had an impact on us to the point we sometimes question, “Why do we do this?” While we have always strived to do things a little differently, we found that the stories we were being sent to write were becoming more negative and often going against our own ethos and ethics. The news of Caroline Flack’s untimely passing was the final straw that broke the camel’s back, and we knew we had to strive to do better and hopefully encourage other writers, journalists and media outlets to do the same.
We love what we do, but we have to take responsibility and not perpetuate what is becoming a big problem in the media industry. While we never reported on Caroline Flack ourselves, that doesn’t mean our hands are clean. We can accept that we’ve often written stories that, as writers and readers, have made us feel uncomfortable. With this in mind, we wanted to come up with a set of guidelines that ensure we only write stories that do fit in with our own ethos and ethics. Every client we write for and every future client will be sent a copy of The Gee Gee Way and we vow as a team of writers to stick to these guidelines at all times. We want to thank our clients already for being supportive of the changes. Between them, their content is read by tens of millions of people every month and we know that their acceptance of these changes will make positive ripples that will eventually turn into waves.
We also hope that more people in the industry will take their own stand. Often, the blame is placed on those who read the articles… After all, if you didn’t read them, then media outlets wouldn’t write them, right? However, if we can encourage more writers, journalists and even media outlets themselves to refuse to stir up hatred or capitalise on negative speculation, then there wouldn’t be any of these types of articles to read.
We also understand that we won’t get everything right all of the time and we wholeheartedly encourage consumers of the media to call us out, call out newspapers, call everyone out that you think is perpetuating this problem. We welcome comments and ammendments to The Gee Gee Way and you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns or additions you think need making.
On top of this, we’re hoping to restore the balance of negativity in the media with a little project we’ve called That’s The PositiviTEA. We understand that people love their fix of gossip and news, so we’d never want to take that away. However, we wanted to create a little corner of the internet that focuses on positive news and responsible reporting.
Readers can send in any negative stories they’ve read online, for us to put a positive spin on them. Seen someone body-shamed online? Send us the story and we’ll write something celebrating all of their achievements. We’ll also cover topics including mental health, everyday heroes, and general stuff that makes people feel good. It’s a completely ad-free zone so that we have complete control over the content (no “here’s how to lose weight” ads), and will follow the same principles of The Gee Gee Way which are set out below:
- No capitalising on grief. A story celebrating someone’s legacy is fine, but a dozen stories for the sake of capitalising on the news is not. We must respect the friends and family of the person who has passed, by giving them space and time to grieve.
- Responsible reporting of mental health, following the guidelines set out by Time to Change and the Samaritans (see below). We absolutely believe that the reality of mental health conditions need to be reported on, but done so in a sensitive way, using the correct language and not including any information that could be triggering.
- No negative speculation. No trial by media in court cases, no “the Queen hates Meghan” rumours, no break-up or cheating rumours, no ‘cancel culture.’
- Reliable sources must be used where possible, to avoid false/fake news and speculation. Preferably primary or secondary sources and no ‘anonymous palace insiders’ or the like.
- No stirring up of hatred. Particularly of different groups, identities, cultures and communities, but also of individuals.
- We won’t include negative comments from social media or promote negativity from trolls.
- No shaming or embarrassing people. Nothing that could be deemed as bullying, making people feel small or silly, or pointing out people’s mistakes.
- No body image or appearance content. Not commenting on someone’s weight loss, weight gain, plastic surgery, or apperance in general. We’d rather celebrate their achievements in their career or life, as opposed to what they look like.
- Respecting Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which says “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”
- No harassment or doorstepping. While Gee Gee Media has never conducted this kind of behaviour, we think it’s important to clarify our position on this and hope that other media outlets follow suit.
Time to Change responsible reporting: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/media-centre/responsible-reporting
Samaritans media guidelines: https://www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/media-guidelines/
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Guide_Art_8_ENG.pdf