On June 16, JoWhatup, Managing Director (Prime Minister) of Lazarus, sent the following message to our Public Relations Director, Wymondham, in relation to messages sent in a forum thread accessible by all 53 citizens in Lazarus.
It is important to note that NationStates Today was contacted by a current citizen of Lazarus without prompting with the details of the ‘leaks’ in question, with the relevance being to an article that was being written regarding the Better Together accords between The West Pacific and the New Pacific Order, and the treaty of Skandia between Balder and the New Pacific Order. The leaks in question related to a discussion regarding said treaties within Lazarus citizen only channels. As is our standard policy, joWhatup was asked to provide a statement on the issue before the article was published so as to ensure all sides of the argument were expressed, which led to the above response.
When considering leaks, we always weigh up any relevant out of character concerns, including safeguarding or moderation, before evaluating the in character value. Our ultimate goal is to be responsible from the OOC perspective, and then follow clear leak guidelines. These include verification of the information, the provenance of the source, and any desire by the source to remain anonymous. In addition, we ensure that leaks are considered within secure channels to ensure our compliance with standard journalistic values.
Such a procedure ensures that we do not publish leaks willy nilly, or without careful consideration. In some cases, this means we will not publish leaks at all.
Yet, factors that we don’t consider when discussing the publishability of leaks is threats from players, no matter their position, or the criminal code of a region which claims to prevent our publishing of the information over claims of espionage. Section 5 of our Charter demands that we counteract attempts at censorship, and the Board believes that the message joWhatup sent to our Public Relations Director is a blatant attempt at just that.
We say this, because after receiving the above threat from joWhatup we were contacted by Ryccia, the Lazarene Foreign Minister, who demanded, on the threat of prosecution as an organisation in Lazarus, that we not publish the leaks. We informed the Foreign Minister that we had no intention of complying with the Lazarene government’s request, in addition to reminding them that we are bound by the aforementioned Charter provisions to counteract attempts at censorship.
Regions cannot operate in the murky waters of silencing news organisations trying to publish stories they disagree with, without also being guilty of censorship. Indeed, in our previously outlined discussions with Ryccia on this matter it was claimed that they did “not wish to suppress the free press” while simultaneously doubling down on their demand for us not to publish the leaks in question.
In relation to joWhatup and Ryccia’s claim that NSToday’s leaking of the aforementioned information would be tantamount to espionage, we of course disagree. Leaks in relation to known treaty concerns in major GCRs are a major gameplay story, and if we have information provided to us in such a matter we have a duty to report on it. Further, a neutral news organisation is not committing espionage if it reports on leaks provided to it, and so claims to that effect have no merit in our view. Indeed, the whole purpose of our organisation being free from regional control is to prevent us from being silenced due to any one region’s criminal code or foreign affairs policy.
We would of course be saddened by any loss of our friendly relationship with Lazarus, especially if it was in circumstances such as these. Both residents of Lazarus and our readership would be worse off without that (we helped run their Prime Ministerial debate recently), however we cannot, and will not, consider sacrificing the basics of our journalistic values on that basis.
So, our response to joWhatup and the Lazarene government is clear: we will not be threatened over any leaks we may be processing. If there were OOC concerns, we would invite feedback from any concerned parties, but in this case we cannot see that being relevant, nor the focus of the demands from the Lazarene officials we conversed with.
To our staff, we say: we will defend you if you are threatened over IC leaks, and you should know we will not bend to threats. To the wider community, we urge you to remember our focus is on reporting the news in as neutral a manner as possible. Threats behind closed doors will not work on us. We have a formal complaints procedure which can be used to bring concerns to our elected Governors on IC issues, and we react as swiftly as possible if we have erred.
We invite further, constructive, dialogue with Lazarus if they wish to engage with us on this issue further.
The Board of NationStates Today