I. Introduction

1. About Us

STEP Group is a digital and new media company in the Middle East, housing several brands and platforms. StepFeed, an English-language site, is a content platform through which stories of the Arab world are told through the lens of an Arab.

We strongly believe that despite all the apparent differences and divisions, the region shares a common umbrella of languages, values, religions, history, and cultural dynamics. StepFeed aspires to become the voice of the region's younger generation. It hopes to gather and publish the opinions and views of the generation while encouraging a productive debate on modern-day topics and issues. We aim to represent the modern and progressive Arab youth in the best way possible.

2. Truth & Integrity

In a world where information flow is fast-paced and abundant, it is always important to seek the truth for the audience at hand and transmit it with the utmost integrity. 

We strive to build a culture of integrity in the way we convey and publish information. The editorial team's job is to safeguard the integrity with which news and information are distributed on the site and any of its online channels. As mistakes, errors, and omissions are likely to arise in a fast-paced environment, we promise to admit to errors made and to correct those mistakes immediately. It is our intention to build a town square in which multiple voices can speak, be heard, and be challenged. This debate may be vigorous and at times heated. But it should never be strident nor threatening. If it is, we reserve the unqualified right to remove posts that can divert attention from real issues with which our readers are engaging.

3. Responsible Reporting

As we strive to make StepFeed one of the most reputable and prominent digital publications in the Middle East, we are aware of the responsibility our team and our management hold. As our voice becomes more widespread and authoritative, we will always prioritize our audience and their right to receive information in an ethically responsible way; we also invite them to contribute their own perspectives and experiences. For us, responsible reporting means that we ask our writers and editors to ask themselves one thing. They are requested to think about STEP readers and the wider community before publishing information that may have negative effects on an individual, a group, or society in general, and to use their best judgment in such a situation.

4. Community

Community is at the core of everything we do at STEP. We try to involve the community in every aspect of our editorial activities. How? We encourage people from the community to participate in our Community Generated content. We also rely heavily on social activity from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in our reporting and represent the community's opinions on trending topics. 

As we know that people may have differing opinions about certain topics, we try our best to present all sides of the story with an aim to advance the discussion and inform the debate. As our platform becomes more dynamic and encompassing, including various topics and areas of the Middle East region, we will try to always represent the different communities from all countries in the region by allowing them a voice, within the rules of our own Editorial Guidelines.

II. Editorial Values

1. Impartiality

At STEP, we do not serve a particular agenda or belief, and as such, the main driver in any particular or ambiguous situation will always be our commitment to accuracy and responsible reporting to the best of our knowledge and ability.

In a region where many publications and news outlets serve political, social, or economic agendas, we think that STEP's commitment to being impartial, independent, and transparent is vital in gaining the trust of our readership. Our audience is in dire need of accurate information without hidden or unannounced agendas. Even when tackling sensitive topics and controversial discussions, we will always strive to give the available facts first, and then allow for opinions in a balanced way. Impartiality does not mean complete and utter neutrality on all given topics. It is the commitment not to be driven by undisclosed outside factors or influences that serve agendas other than reporting the facts we know accurately. We do, however, accept that in many instances, our editors may write remarks that may be considered opinionated on certain topics. That's part of encouraging a constructive and vigorous discussion.

2. News, Politics and Religion

As a news and information source, we will naturally come across topics that intersect political views and religious sensitivities. As stated by our impartiality pledge (see section II-1), we do not ever feel obliged to serve the agenda of any institution, party, government, or commercial partner.

3. Controversial Topics

Many topics are a matter of controversy among readers and people with differing views. We do not shy away from controversy when covering certain topics as we consider this as a natural consequence of covering trending and discussed topics. We do, however, consider it important to cover controversial topics in a responsible manner. We also aim to be a platform for civilized and open conversation, rather than a place for offensive and unfair remarks.

Controversy is a natural thing in a free-speech environment; however, we do understand that not all countries in the region have the same rules when it comes to freedom of speech and expression, and, as such, our editors must follow the laws and rules of the specific country at hand.

4. Diversity of Opinion

As a platform that encourages public discussion, we believe in presenting the plethora of diverse opinions that exist in the region when covering a certain story. We will do so by involving different individuals with contrasting opinions whenever possible. We will also try to maintain impartiality by hosting opinions that may be considered of opposing principles. 

Diversity of opinion does not only refer to different political opinions; in many cases, it may mean opinions coming from different communities or countries in the Middle East in reference to the same topic. STEP will allow individuals, groups, or organizations to offer personal views or perspectives on topics, including the explicit views of a specialist, academic, or expert in a certain field, as well as the opinions of contributors from the community. 

When a contributor’s personal views are being published, we intend to clearly label it as such – and will not necessarily reflect any position that STEP might hold. 

5. Social Impact & Responsibility

As stated in many instances, STEP is committed to having a positive and responsible impact on the community it represents as well as the wider society in general. Impacting our society positively happens in two ways: the immediate effect and the long-term impact. The immediate effects are linked with our daily editorial and content outputs on our channels. We try to assess all the content we produce in terms of relevance and constructiveness. 

In the long-term, we hope that STEP can produce content that can have a long-lasting effect on society and help shape its progress. The Middle East specifically needs reasonable and thoughtful voices to affect and guide the new generation and we hope that StepFeed can be a leader in that aspect. As we grow in reach, we will also understand our power to affect public opinion. We will always try to use that power to elevate the quality of content and conversation rather than just the volume.

III. Editorial Guidelines

1. Sourcing Information

All information in a STEP article comes from knowledgeable and, when possible, verifiable sources, including directly from the subject, other news outlets, industry publications, legal or official documents, and published research. The quality and reliability of the source of the information are always assessed prior to usage. Anonymous sources are acceptable when the information provided is key to the understanding of the story. Any use of an anonymous source must be approved by the publication's most senior editor. 

It is our general policy that what is said in public forums – including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms – is public information and can be cited without checking with the poster first. We will, however, embed posts available to the public whenever possible.

Before quoting private messages, or posts that have privacy settings that would prevent the general public from seeing them, we will confirm with the poster prior to usage. Posts by minors (including anyone under the age of 18 regardless of local law that might set a lower age of maturity) are rarely ever embedded if they are controversial, reveal personal information, or touch on a political subject. 

2. Fact Checking

STEP seeks factual accuracy. Editors and writers work together to confirm and appropriately source the facts in question. When in doubt, the editorial team will not publish something STEP is not certain it can stand behind. If we publish something and later learned that a key fact was inaccurate, we will make sure to update and correct the original item.

3. Plagiarism

Any accusations of - or investigation into - plagiarism must include the publication's top editor. Err on the side of caution. For STEP, plagiarism includes any form of passing off someone else's content as original work, whether in whole or part. Anything taken from another source must be credited and linked when appropriate. If plagiarism is discovered in a STEP story, the offending copy will be removed and a note will be added to the story. If the entire post has been plagiarized, then it will be deleted.

4. Graphic & Sensitive Content

STEP aspires to serve a diverse audience of many different ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Any use of graphic or sensitive content will be weighed against the news value of such content. Never will any graphic content be used in posts unless approved by the publication's editors.