Editorial Guidelines

Mission Statement

TV Rain is an international Russian-language TV and internet channel. Our mission is to provide Russian-speaking audiences, in Russia and around the world, with independent and accurate information. We aim to bring stories from Russia about Russia and the rest of the world to those who are denied access to such information.

We also aim to give a voice to those persecuted and silenced in Russia, protecting them by sharing their stories with the world.

Our vision is that of a stable and democratic Russia with free and fair elections, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and respect for the borders and sovereignty of other states.

We are committed to providing quality journalism, recognizing that reliable, useful, and above all, trustworthy information plays a crucial role in society, allowing citizens to engage in the life of their country.

We recognize that such power demands responsibility, and we aim to ensure that our journalists behave professionally while protecting their ability to investigate and report freely.

We aim for quality; in reporting, production, and caliber of our guests and exclusives. We aspire to be our audience’s preferred, trusted news source of choice.

We will remain independent of any outside or internal pressure, commercial, political, financial, or other.


Editorial Guidelines

The purpose of these Editorial Guidelines is to build trust with our readers, and to protect the integrity of TV Rain and its journalism, in whatever format it is published.

These guidelines form a practical working tool for our staff. They reinforce our commitment to the core principles of journalism – truthfulness, accuracy, and fact-based communications; impartiality and fairness; limitation of harm, humanity, and respect for others; editorial independence; and accountability through transparency. There are no forbidden topics, and we do not self-censor.

The guidelines set out our expectations of the behavior of our staff, contractors, and all others who contribute to editorial content. They cover three areas: general newsroom management and practice, basic editorial rules, and conflicts of interest.

The guidelines apply to all staff and are implemented in accordance with the organization’s management structure. They are determined by our editorial board and monitored by senior staff and the editor-in-chief.

They are intended to be easily accessible and understood by the public and will be applied to all content, newsgathering, and production activities for which the publisher of TV Rain is responsible.


TV Rain is committed to:

  • Editorial independence and ensuring that all forms of advertising, sponsored content, or other commercials, and editorial products are clearly marked and distinguished from editorial material produced in line with the core principles of journalism; clear separation of reporting from opinion, and
  • Exclusion of any content, whether editorial, expressed by our guests, or publicly generated, on the grounds of defamation, hate-speech, invasion of privacy, or abuse.

These guidelines may form part of a journalist’s employment contract and may also be part of any disciplinary, promotional, or recruitment procedures for either editorial management or journalists.

By observing our guidelines and the core principles of journalism, journalists working for TV Rain will protect their and their colleagues' independence, standing, and reputation.

It is important that freelancers commissioned by TV Rain also abide by these guidelines while on assignment for the company.


 1.      General practice

a) Anonymous contributions

Content commissioned by TV Rain can be published anonymously or with pseudonyms only in exceptional circumstances, for example, if the author's safety, privacy, or livelihood is threatened, and then only with the permission of the responsible senior editor. In such cases, readers will be aware that identities have been withheld, and an explanation is given. This provision need not apply to authors with established pseudonyms commissioned or hosted by TV Rain in that capacity.

b) Payments for editorial material

Generally, we do not pay for stories except for bonafide freelance sources. The responsible editor or his/her deputy must approve rare exceptions.

In some circumstances, offers or acceptances of hospitality and/or facilitation payments paid to public officials to obtain an interview, secure or expedite the performance of a routine or necessary action will be illegal.

Although there may be no public interest defense, where an individual is left with no alternative but to make a facilitation payment to protect personal safety and security, there may be a defense of duress.

Staff should always discuss with the responsible editor beforehand or clarify policy with senior management if they are concerned that any payments, goods, or services might be inappropriate. If such payments are requested or made, they should inform the editor-in-chief of the circumstances as soon as possible.

c) Freelance staff

TV Rain supports good commissioning practices, including fair treatment and protection of freelancers.

d) Confidentiality

Responsible editors and department heads with access to personal information relating to other staff members must treat such information as confidential and not disclose it to anyone except while discharging formal responsibilities. TV Rain handles the personal data of both employees and other parties (such as users of the platform) in accordance with the rules of personal data protection regulation of the EU, taking into account also the specifics of local regulations in the countries of citizenship of the persons providing the personal data.

e) Copyright

Journalists should not use content from non-authorized third-party sources – pictures, text, or other media – without obtaining permission. There are limited legal situations where permission may not be needed. Still, journalists must check with the responsible editors dealing with images or the legal department before using material without permission.

f) Errors

It is our policy to correct significant errors as soon as possible. Journalists must cooperate frankly and openly with the responsible editor and senior management and report errors to them. All complaints should be recorded and brought to the responsible editor's attention. The process of making and dealing with complaints should be made known to the public.

When we make an error, we will correct it on the air or on our website, displayed with the prominence that matches the original erroneous content.

g) Legal affairs

The laws of libel and contempt laws are complex and constantly developing. The consequences of court actions can be expensive and damaging to our reputation.

Staff should check with the responsible editors or the legal department when potential issues of defamation or contempt arise.

h) Privacy

We are committed to respecting people’s privacy. Much journalism may be intrinsically intrusive, but we should avoid invading anyone’s privacy unnecessarily. When a clear public interest is to be served, journalists may have to sacrifice privacy protection. Private citizens should have more protection for their privacy than those who choose to put themselves in the public sphere, such as politicians or celebrities.

Intrusion must be justified by the story's seriousness and the public good likely to follow from publication. Where possible, it should be authorized at a senior level.

Caution should also be exercised about reporting and publishing identifying details, such as street names and numbers, that may enable others to intrude on the privacy or safety of people who have become the subject of media coverage.

i) Engagement with the public

Our most important relationship is the one we have with our audience. Courtesy applies whether an exchange occurs in person, by telephone, by letter, or by email.

The company recognizes that communication online, e.g., in blogs and social media domains, can be more informal, brisk, and, where a debate is underway, combative — but journalists should be mindful of the guidelines on blogging and social media.

We recognize that our journalists have broad interests beyond their professional duties and are allowed to express personal views on their social media accounts. However, this is not encouraged and must always be identified as a personal opinion.

In using social media, journalists with a known association with TV Rain should not make public pronouncements that may compromise the company's integrity or call into question their own journalistic independence or go against the spirit of professionalism set out in these guidelines.


2. Editorial Rules

a) Accuracy and verification

Trust in our information's accuracy, authenticity, and reliability is essential. Digital communications present special challenges, and we insist on seeking reliable corroboration of information.

We will, wherever possible, rely on first-hand sources who witnessed the events we report. We verify facts and statistics from other sources and provide any caveats and limitations. We clearly describe to what extent we have been able to verify what we are reporting. We do not report rumors, arbitrarily omit facts or manipulate them.

We do not state as fact information about or from someone who we cannot authenticate (e.g., “A student who says she witnessed the riot,” not “A student who witnessed the riot”).

Reliability of sources is the responsibility of editors as well as reporters and correspondents, and editors should be confident in challenging the dependability of the information.

b) Attribution

Staff must not reproduce other people’s material without attribution, except in exceptional circumstances – for example, where the source must be protected — and only then with the permission of a responsible senior editor.

The source of published material obtained from another organization should be acknowledged, including quotes from other media outlets’ content.

Bylines and journalist signoffs should be carried only on material substantially the work of the named journalist. If an article or video product contains a significant amount of news agency or corporate material, then the news agency or the company providing it should also be credited.

We also make the location reporting clear for identification and disclose it in the content unless it is unsafe for the source of the information to disclose it.

c) Sources of information and anonymous quotations

Sources who give information and who put themselves at risk may be promised confidentiality. They should be protected at all costs but only after consultation with a senior editor. However, where possible, the sources of information should be identified as specifically as possible.

We avoid relying on anonymous sources as indiscriminate use of such sources can be used to promote narrow undisclosed political, commercial or other special interests and, in the long run, dilutes the audience’s trust.

d) Copy and quote approval

The general rule is that interviewees or third parties should not be given the right to copy or script approval. In certain circumstances, we may allow people to see excerpts of copy (rather than the full text of a script or article) or quotes in the interests of accuracy, but we are not required to alter copy.

Offering to provide interview questions or the right of copy approval should not be used to secure interviews or cooperation.

e) Reporting children

Particular care should be taken when dealing with children (under the age of 16, although the child's rights in international law cover individuals under the age of 18).

Children will not be photographed or interviewed without the consent of a responsible adult or parent.

Journalists should not intrude on children's private lives without their understanding and consent. If this happens, it must be accompanied by a strong public interest justification.
In view of the longevity of online material, editors should consider whether to obscure children's identities to protect them from embarrassment or harm as they grow older.

f) Direct quotations

Journalists and editors should never change direct quotations, especially to alter their context or meaning through video editing, although minor editing may be needed for clarity.
Quotations that include falsehoods should be avoided or, in rare cases, qualified with additional language, particularly when used in headlines or excerpts in social media.

g) Endorsements

Journalists should not agree to promote through copy, photographs, or footnotes the financial interests of prospective interviewees, contributors, or their sponsors to secure access to them.

Promotional information about a subject should be included only where it is of genuine interest or assistance to the reader.

h) Fairness and use of language

We aim to provide inclusive and fair reporting, which seeks to give voice to people or groups who are criticized. The more serious the criticism or allegations we are reporting, the greater the obligation to allow the subject the opportunity to respond.

This right of response should be recognized for individuals, companies, and groups, including minority groups, where general criticisms are made.

Our journalists and editors respect the audience, and we should not casually use words that are likely to offend. The use of swear words, for instance, should only be when necessary to the facts of a piece or to portray a character in an article and then used in direct quotes. We avoid using such language in headlines or otherwise highlighting such words.

Fairness does not mean ‘false’ equivalence of all viewpoints. Where scientific or other evidence points to a certain conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt, competing ones should not be presented as viable alternatives. The perpetrator of an atrocity or the leader of a fringe political group arguably warrants less space than the victims or mainstream political parties.

i) Grief

People should be treated with sensitivity when reporting periods of grief and trauma.

j) Photographs, videos, and images:

Altering pictures or distorting audio-visual material is generally unacceptable. Where it takes place, there should be a clear indication that the images have been changed and digitally enhanced or altered. Such images, montages, and illustrations should be clearly labeled, as should material obtained from third parties, such as politicians or corporations. Reconstruction necessary to visualize events where images are not available should be clearly marked as such.

k) Ethnicity

We generally do not publish someone’s race or ethnic background, or religion unless that information is relevant to the story. We do not report the race of criminal suspects unless the ethnic background is part of a description that seeks to identify them or is important to the story (for example, in the case of hate crime).

l) Subterfuge – “going undercover”

Journalists should be frank and identify themselves as TV Rain employees when working on a story. There may be instances involving investigative stories of exceptional public interest where this does not apply, but this needs the approval of a senior editor.

m) Self-harm

Journalists are asked to exercise care in reporting self-harm, particularly cases of suicide. It is important to avoid reporting in ways (i.e., using explicit language and images) that risk encouraging others or that may compromise the privacy of those involved, including close relatives.

When appropriate, a helpline number should be given, and general information on suicide prevention and support groups should be provided. International suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

n) User-generated content (UGC) and eyewitness news

TV Rain publishes online and incorporates into its broadcasting content submitted by audiences (UGC). We never assume that such content is accurate and take reasonable steps to verify, generally following the same principles as when a material is created entirely by our own journalists. We should ensure that UGC is clearly identified.
Any UGC comment or opinion containing defamation, hate speech, invasion of privacy, or abuse will be removed.

o) Reporting war

Journalists must abide by all the editorial guidelines above when reporting armed conflict.  But some of these rules become even more acute when reporting happens in the context of information warfare, disinformation, rumors, restrictions of military censorship, and the potential grave harm - including loss of life - to individuals, be they, combatants or civilians.  Each instance where the potential for such harm arises has to be carefully considered to determine whether the public interest outweighs the possible harm. 

We ensure that all our journalists covering war are aware of the Geneva Conventions rules relating to legal protections for journalists when covering armed conflict and that they have appropriate safety training and equipment.

Therefore, some of the most important rules of war reporting that journalists of TV Rain abide by are highlighted here:

  • We report what our journalists witness themselves, or when that is not the case, we clearly attribute the information to third parties.  But we also avoid naming sources when this would endanger them.  When conflicting information is provided - for example, in numbers of military or civilian casualties – we report either a range or attribute to a source with the greatest authority. If we cannot confirm a claim, we will say that.
  • We make it clear to the audience whenever our reports are censored or monitored.
  • Social media play an increasing role in journalism. But also contribute to the spread of rumors or lies.TV Rain will carefully consider whether to post a story online and when we do, whether to disable or moderate comments. Accuracy and neutrality principles must be applied with particular care. Using social media as a source can prove unreliable without verification.  Even with verification, the risk to the source will be considered.
  • TV Rain will conceal the victims' identities and will not live stream scenes with any casualties, military or civilians. We will not identify prisoners of war, with rare exceptions if in the public interest.  It’s a complex issue that calls for serious editorial consideration.
  • Combatants are an important first-hand source in war reporting.  TV Rain journalists will be mindful of how their relationships with combatants are perceived and, therefore, will not carry weapons, collect war memorabilia, or transport combatants in their vehicles. 


3. Conflicts of interest

TV Rain values our reputation for independence and integrity. Journalists clearly have lives, interests, hobbies, convictions, and beliefs outside their work.

We aim to ensure that outside interests do not come into conflict with our journalism or compromise our editorial integrity.

The following guidelines concern all active outside interests, which, should they remain undeclared and become known, would cause a fair-minded reader to question the independence of our editorial work.

We recognize that objectivity is not a one-size-fits-all rule. A commentator, for instance, with views openly on display, may have more latitude than a staff reporter, who would be expected to bring rigorous qualities of objectivity to their work. If in doubt, journalists should consult a responsible editor or editor-in-chief.

a) Free gifts

Staff should not be influenced by commercial considerations — including the interests of advertisers — in preparing journalistic content.

No members of our staff, or freelancers with known connection to us, should use their position to obtain private benefits for themselves or others. We do not allow any payment, gift, or other advantages to undermine our journalism's accuracy, fairness, or independence.

Any such attempts should be reported to the editor. Where relevant, payments, gifts, or other advantages will be disclosed.

Staff members should not use their positions to seek any benefit or advantage in personal business, financial or commercial transactions not afforded to the public generally.
We should disclose when an airline, hotel, or other interest has borne the cost of transporting or accommodating a journalist. Acceptance of any such offer is conditional on editorial managers being free to assign and report or not report any resulting story.

b) Commercial products

No journalist or freelancer primarily associated with us should endorse commercial products unless with the express permission of the responsible editor or editor-in-chief.

Staff journalists have the right to activities outside work (including holding office or being otherwise actively involved in organizations and companies, but not political parties). However, journalists must be mindful that those can sometimes be perceived as affecting our journalism's integrity and avoid such instances.

Staff should inform the editor-in-chief about any outside personal, philosophical or financial interests that might conflict with their professional performance or could be perceived as doing so.

c) Declarations of interest

Journalists should declare an interest when writing about something with which they have a significant connection. This applies to both staff journalists and freelancers. The declaration should be to the head of the department or editor. Full transparency may mean disclosing the declaration in print and on the website.

A connection does not have to be formal before it is necessary to declare it. For example, acting in an advisory capacity to prepare an organization's report would require a declaration.

Some connections are obvious and may be why the journalist or commentator has been commissioned. These should always be stated with their contribution, even if they contribute regularly.

A journalist should not write about or produce for publication images of any relation, partner, or individual related by marriage or with whom the staff member has a close personal, financial or romantic relationship in a report, even if the relative or partner is an expert in the field in question. The connection should be made clear if an exception is made to this rule for any reason.

Editors should ensure that freelancers are aware of the rules and are also bound where appropriate to make any necessary declaration.

d) Declarations of corporate interest

Other media/non-media companies have less than a 5% stake in TV Rain. We do not disclose those publicly. However, staff should familiarise themselves with the companies and interests we have.

e) Financial reporting

TV Rain’s primary focus is political and international news, not economic and corporate reporting, especially not on financial markets.  Therefore, our coverage is unlikely to influence those markets. Employees should still disclose to management any personal investment if their ownership share in a company exceeds 5% and gives them any legal control.

Using inside information obtained as a result of employees’ journalistic activities for personal investment is not allowed.

f) Outside engagements

The company accepts the journalist’s right to private life and the right to take part in civic society. However, staff should inform the responsible editor or editor-in-chief if, in their capacity as an employee, they intend to:

  • Give evidence to any court,
  • Chair public forums or seminars arranged by professional conference organizers or commercial organizations,
  • Undertake any outside employment likely to conflict with their professional duties,
  • Make representations or give evidence to any official body concerning material the company has published.

Journalists invited to chair debates or appear on panels as a company representative should not usually accept or request payment for doing so unless preparation or attendance at the event involves a significant call on private time.

Acceptance of payment should be approved in advance by the responsible editor or editor-in-chief, having regard for other clauses within these guidelines, such as conflict of interest, declarations of interest, and endorsement of commercial products. Travel and other reasonable expenses may be accepted.

Staff journalists should not provide public relations advice, especially to an audience that has paid to attend.

Note: Where a journalist or editor has concerns about the ethical implications of behavior or conduct in any aspect of editorial work, including issues raised in these guidelines, we should seek advice from the editor-in-chief or senior management of TV Rain. In certain cases, we may seek advice also from appropriate industry bodies or experts (e.g., a press council or external ombudsman).


Tikhon Dzyadko,