UBM Medica US Editorial Policies
We provide fair, balanced and insightful content to our audiences. And we want to be as transparent as possible about what we do.
I personally welcome your reactions, questions or comments on any given project, piece of editorial, or policy:
VP, Content and Strategy, UBM Medica US
Here are some of the basic policies we follow.
Advertising and Sponsored Resources
We believe that the future of medical practice and the integrity of our brands rely on full transparency regarding how and whether commerce has influenced editorial.
Ads: UBM Medica US products usually include advertisements. That's our core business model. Otherwise, we couldn't offer our content to physicians and other readers without asking them to pay for it.
However, the fact that we run ads does not mean editorial is influenced by advertisers. We do not use content submitted by advertisers, by pharmaceutical companies, or by advertising agencies as editorial except where specifically labeled as such; we don't take a position on whether a product is good or bad.
Our authors, editors and writers serve the audience first, foremost and fully.
Sponsored resources: Sometimes, companies pay us to create educational content that supports their goals. If a vendor had a say in our content, you'll always know it.
Our editors strive to make content within a sponsored resource relevant and accurate, but sponsored resources are produced outside our journals' standard editorial processes. The sponsor typically decides what topics are covered and may review and approve the final product. Note, however, that all sponsored content undergoes editorial or independent peer review (as per the norm for the publication or site in question) to ensure the accuracy of the content.
Examples of sponsored resources include a white paper on the benefits of a particular type of software (without endorsing a specific brand), or a research project on physicians' views toward a particular subject.
Such projects will always prominently state that the content was created with financial support, will name the financial supporter, and will include a disclaimer that the supporter influenced the content, as follows:
This resource is sponsored exclusively by [Company X]. It was created in consultation with [Company X] by the editors of [journal/site] in a manner consistent with [journal/site]'s editorial policies for ethics and quality. Company X reviewed the material prior to publication. Final decisions on editorial content were made by the editors of [journal/site].
When promotional content provided by a sponsor is included, we add to the above disclaimer:
Contains promotional content. The editorial board of [the publication/site] did not review the content provided by the sponsor.
If we e-mail or otherwise use promotional or educational content straight from a vendor, we'll also make it clear that it's an ad or sponsor-provided material.
UBM has an internal policy on journalistic ethics.
Here are some key points from that document:
- UBM is an ethical company and strives to maintain the highest-possible ethical standards in its journalism – just as it does in all business activities.
- UBM subscribes to the view expressed by the US Society of Professional Journalists, which states in its own Code of Ethics: "Public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialities strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility."
- UBM journalists treat all members of their professional communities fairly and openly. Whatever platform we use – print, online, mobile, social media, video – we strive to deliver the complete, unvarnished truth as best we understand it at the time of writing.
- UBM journalists treat everyone they interview in a professional manner. They do not pay for interviews or confidential material – thus encouraging the recipient to falsify or sensationalise information. They do not promise favourable coverage to those who agree to be interviewed, or threaten to besmirch the reputation of those who refuse to talk. They only make inquiries into someone's personal life if it has a direct bearing on a story of professional interest.
- Under no circumstances should journalists bribe public officials or private professionals for information. This is illegal in most jurisdictions.
- Nor must journalists plagiarise the material of others – whether words or images. This represents a breach of copyright in many jurisdictions, and would represent a fundamental breach of trust and integrity.
- In normal circumstances, journalists should not give ‘copy approval' to interviewees. With the agreement of the editor or brand director, interviewees may be shown sight of copy on rare occasions where this is unavoidable (eg. in celebrity interviews). However, our starting point is that we employ professional journalists who have the trust of their sources. If interviewees are concerned that the facts of a story might be misconstrued, these can be checked in advance of publication, without submitting the actual text of the story to the subject. That said, there may be instances where copy approval is essential – for example, in co-branded publications. In these situations, approval should be formally given by the editor or brand director.
- Like all UBM employees, journalists must obey the law at all times.
- Journalists should not record interviews or private conversations without the consent of all parties involved. The only exceptions to this rule are where there is a genuine public interest in the story, and where approval for secret video or audio recordings has been given by editors or brand directors, and in consultation with UBM's legal department and/or externally-approved lawyers.
- Whenever possible, UBM journalists pay their own way – including travel, accommodation, and sustenance. This is the best way to preserve our neutrality. Where it is unavoidable to accept a source's hospitality (on an organised press trip, for example), it should be made clear at the outset that the covering of any expenses will not influence our coverage.
- We compete ferociously with our rivals, but we are open and fair. If journalists use material published by competitors, they attribute it.
UBM staff aren't the only ones who put content on our sites, of course; we invite the community we serve to contribute. In fact, user comments, forums, and the like are a key part of keeping content balanced. If we get something wrong, you can go ahead and correct it or provide another point of view.
When users comment on the site, they have to adhere to our terms of service. This document doesn't replace those terms, but it's a good spot to elaborate and call out a few main points and expectations.
- Comments can't libel someone and shouldn't be a place for personal attacks. These sites are about solutions and discussions, not yelling.
- Our sites are for physicians and their professional community. It's not an appropriate place for patients to ask for healthcare advice. On most of our sites, only physicians and other professional providers can comment.
- Comments are also not a place to run thinly disguised ads. If a site allows non-physicians, such as vendor representatives to comment, we're looking for comments that contribute to the conversation, not pitches.
- Nobody should violate patient privacy by revealing personal health information in any kind of contributed content. Please be circumspect about revealing any personal health information in any kind of contributed content that might make it possible for a patient to be identified, such as faces.
- In some instances, we might pay users to contribute to our sites.
In short, in a confusing media world, we're doing our very best to hew to high standards and full transparency about what we do.
Think we're not? I want to hear about it.