We’re tweaking the MoneySavingExpert.com editorial code

We’ve today uploaded a new version of the MSE Editorial Code – the legally binding document that governs how MSE is operated (it’s linked to from the bottom of every page).

Most changes are due to the fact I’ve technically changed roles from Editor-In-Chief to Executive Chairman (see the Martin Lewis’ new role news story) and the Code needs to reflect that.

I say technically, as I’m still also acting Editor-In-Chief while we recruit the new one, which we hope to do by the first quarter of 2016. After that, I will go part time. So on with the changes, to make it simple, I’ve a key:

– Yellow highlighted text – is the new text.

– Red text – is my explanations.

The Editorial Code

On 21 September 2012 the MoneySupermarket.com group took over the operations of MoneySavingExpert.com. In order to preserve the editorial independence of MoneySavingExpert.com, Martin Lewis and MoneySupermarket.com agreed an editorial code as part of the sale.

On 22 September 2015, Martin Lewis moved from Editor in Chief to Chairman of MoneySavingExpert.com. The new Editor-in-Chief reports to Martin directly and is responsible to him for ensuring that…

[As the Editor-in-Chief is the person named in the code and in day-to-day control of MSE editorial, this has been inserted to signify I’m still in position as senior guardian of the code.]

(1) MoneySavingExpert.com shall be operated in accordance with this Editorial Code and 
(2) this Editorial Code shall be carried out and applied in a manner consistent with the practice, activities, ethos and operation of MoneySavingExpert.com and Martin Lewis (as Editor-in-Chief) during the 12 month period prior to 1 June 2012:

["Ethos" added, to help clarify our philosophy shouldn’t change.]

1. MoneySavingExpert.com and the MoneySupermarket.com group websites shall continue to operate as separate websites.

2. MoneySavingExpert.com’s editorial independence and strategy of "helping the consumer" first shall prevail. The editorial stance shall remain independent from commercial objectives. The reporting lines of the editorial and commercial teams shall remain separate to maintain the independent editorial stance.

3. MoneySavingExpert.com’s Editor-in-Chief shall control all editorial decisions made in relation to MoneySavingExpert.com and its editorial strategy.

4. MoneySavingExpert.com’s forum shall continue to be operated in a manner consistent with current practice for the benefit of "helping the consumer" first. MoneySavingExpert.com’s Editor-in-Chief shall oversee the website’s forum strategy.

[The word "oversee" has replaced "control" to codify current practice ie, the forum team control the forum, but the Editor-in-Chief is responsible for all forum/user relations.]

5. MoneySavingExpert.com’s Editor-in-Chief shall determine any content on the website and in any email, printed publications and reports. The Editor-in-Chief shall ensure the design of the website, all products, services, mobile applications and tools provided by the website from time to time are consistent with MoneySavingExpert.com’s strategy of "helping the consumer first" (the "MoneySavingExpert.com Content").     

[It previously said "The Editor-In-Chief shall determine" and then everything else in the list was in this clause. Now it’s split in two – the first are things the Editor-In-Chief determines, the rest are things where the Editor-in-Chief’s responsibility is to "help the consumer first".

This is because my role as Editor-In-Chief also included being Chief Executive, but this role is now being split into two between our new Managing Director (which our existing Chief Operating Officer, Andy Hancock’s, been promoted to) and the new Editor-in-Chief whose sole focus is content.  I will continue to be involved in all elements.

Thus the ‘editorial line’ and anything written is the responsibility of the Editor-in-Chief. Yet things like design, products (ie, the eligibility tool, or energy club) or services are run by the MD (whose job description also includes protecting this code).

Yet the Editor-in-Chief will still have a veto if anything isn’t in consumers’ interests from an editorial perspective both in terms of what’s written in tools and the results the tools give (eg, we’ll always default to all tariffs in our energy comparison).]

6. MoneySavingExpert.com’s Editor-in-Chief (and authorised spokespersons) may comment freely on all issues consistent with the website’s role as a consumer campaigning website, regardless of whether such views differ from those of the MoneySupermarket.com group. Such comments shall be made in an objective manner consistent with MoneySavingExpert.com’s strategy of "helping the consumer" first.

7. MoneySavingExpert.com’s Editor-in-Chief (and authorised spokespersons) shall be permitted to comment freely about the products and services available through the MoneySupermarket.com group. Such comments shall be made in an objective manner consistent with MoneySavingExpert.com’s strategy of "helping the consumer" first.

8. MoneySavingExpert.com Content shall continue to be researched, written and approved by the editorial team according to journalistic methods and in an objective manner in order to identify the money saving techniques, products and services that MoneySavingExpert.com considers to be the preferred option for users consistent with its strategy of "helping the consumer" first.

9. Products and services provided by the MoneySupermarket.com group shall be assessed using the same journalistic methods as those of any other third party and, like any other third party, shall only be included on MoneySavingExpert.com where those products and services are the preferred options for users.

10. Third parties (including the MoneySupermarket.com group) shall not be able to pay for or otherwise agree advertising space on MoneySavingExpert.com. Where printed guides produced by MoneySavingExpert.com are sponsored, the name of the sponsor may be noted.

11. MoneySavingExpert.com shall continue to highlight to its users how it is financed. Where MoneySavingExpert.com uses an affiliate link (a link that can result in a payment to the website) it will, wherever practicable, continue to provide an alternative unpaid link to an identical product or service on the same page.

12 MoneySavingExpert.com may continue to highlight and remind users (via its email or website navigation) of MoneySavingExpert.com Content that generates revenue, provided this does not impact the editorial stance which shall continue to be determined in an objective manner consistent with MoneySavingExpert.com’s strategy of "helping the consumer" first. For more information, see how the site is financed.

13. MoneySavingExpert.com Content and the MoneySavingExpert.com brand may only be used on MoneySupermarket.com media with the express permission of the MoneySavingExpert.com’s Editor-in-Chief (acting reasonably). If such permission is granted, the following provisos shall apply:

13.1 when MoneySavingExpert.com’s opinions on products or services are used, a one-click link path shall exist to the full information on MoneySavingExpert.com about those products or services; and
13.2 if deemed appropriate by the Editor-in-Chief, any applicable caveats shall appear directly within the copy on MoneySupermarket.com media; and
13.3 MoneySavingExpert.com Content and MoneySavingExpert.com brand shall be used in the same context as in the original copy on MoneySavingExpert.com; and
13.4 the amount of MoneySavingExpert.com Content used shall be determined by the Editor-in Chief.

14. Any personal data about individual users, including contact details, (as opposed to aggregated or anonymised user behaviour data) gathered while operating MoneySavingExpert.com shall not be tracked or otherwise used by MoneySupermarket.com group (except for internal reporting, accounting or compliance purposes) without the express permission of the MoneySavingExpert.com’s Editor-in-Chief and in accordance with the informed consent of the relevant user.

If individuals give separate informed consent for their data to be shared across the MoneySupermarket.com group (eg, Moneysupermarket.com, Travelsupermarket.com), it may then be used to speed up form filling, or to personalise, or improve their experience if the same user then goes to those websites.

[Many of the MSE tools, eg, Cheap Energy Club and Eligibility Checker, require you to fill in your details – and on mobiles that’s a pain in the backside. So to speed up the process and make it easier for people, both MSE and MoneySupermarket want to auto-fill the form if any part of the group has that data. That’s the aim of sharing form filling data (both ways round).

Yet I know MSE users are careful with their data – so I wanted to ensure it’s your choice whether to have this service or not.

So if and whenever we ever ask if you want this function (usually within tools), we will ask for specific permission as a separate opt in (ie, you must actively tick it) to share your data only for this purpose (and for personalisation if you visit one of the other sites within the group).

This will be separate from our own "tick to accept t&cs" – in other words you will still be able to use our tools without having to agree to your data being shared across the group.]

If MoneySavingExpert.com sends users directly to MoneySupermarket.com group’s websites or the user visits MoneySupermarket.com group’s websites independently, they shall be subject to MoneySupermarket.com’s data protection policy.

15. Any personal data about individual users, including contact details, gathered while operating MoneySavingExpert.com shall not be sold to third parties or used for the purposes of unsolicited communications from other parts of the MoneySupermarket.com group.

[This is just to clarify that you can’t be contacted unless you’ve specifically requested that from the different part of the group.]