Each editor, editorial staff member, writer, and journalist must be familiar with these ethical standards of the press and base their practice on this code. The ethical practice comprehends the complete journalistic process from research to publication.
1. The Role of the Press in Society
1.1. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Information, and Freedom of the Press are essential elements of a democracy. Consequently, a free, independent press is among the important institutions in a democratic society.
1.2. The press has essential functions in that it carries information, debates, and critical comments on current affairs. In addition, the press is mainly responsible for allowing different views to be expressed.
1.3. The press shall protect the freedom of speech, the freedom of the media, and the principle of access to official documents. It cannot yield any pressure from anybody who might want to prevent open debates, the free flow of information, and free access to sources. Agreements concerning exclusive event reporting shall not preclude independent news reporting.
1.4. It is the right of the press to carry information on what goes on in society and uncover and disclose matters, which ought to be subjected to criticism. It is a press obligation to shed critical light on how media themselves exercise their role.
1.5. It is the task of the press to protect individuals and groups against injustices or neglect committed by public authorities and institutions, private enterprises, or others.
2. Integrity and credibility
2.1 The responsible editor carries personal and full responsibility for the contents of the media and has the final decision in any questions regarding editorial content, financing, presentation, and publication. The editor shall act freely and independently towards any persons or groups who might want to influence the editorial content for ideological, economic, or other reasons. Furthermore, the editor shall safeguard the editorial staff’s production of free and independent journalism.
2.2 The editor and the individual editorial staff member must protect their independence, integrity, and credibility. Avoid dual roles, positions, commissions, or commitments that create conflicts of interest connected to or leading to speculations of disqualification.
2.3 Be open on matters that could be relevant for how the public perceives the journalistic content.
2.4 Members of the editorial staff must not exploit their position to achieve personal gain, including receiving money, goods or services, that can be perceived as compensation from outsiders for editorial benefits.
2.5 A member of the editorial staff cannot be ordered to do anything contrary to their convictions.
2.6 Never undermine the clear distinction between editorial copy and advertisements. It must be evident to the public what is deemed to be commercial content. The difference must be noticeable
also when using web links and other connective means. Decline any commercial content that can be confused with the individual medium’s journalistic presentation.
Editorial mentions of products, services, brand names, and commercial interests, including the media’s own, must be motivated by editorial considerations and must not appear like advertisements. Maintain an apparent distinction between marketing activities and editorial work. Turn down any offers of journalistic favors in return for publicity. Avoid indiscriminate reproduction of PR material.
2.8 Hidden advertising is incompatible with good press practice. Commercial interests must not influence journalistic activities, content, or presentation. If the editorial material is sponsored or a program has product placements, this must be obvious to the public. Sponsorship must always be marked. Sponsorship or product placement in news or current affairs journalism or journalism directed at children is incompatible with good press practice. The editorial department itself must in the main pay direct expenses for journalistic activities. In the event of an exception, the audience must be aware of what is financed by external interests.
2.9 Members of the editorial staff must not accept assignments from anyone other than editorial management.
3. Journalistic Conduct and Relations with the Sources
3.1. The source of information must, as a rule, be identified unless this conflicts with source protection or consideration for a third party.
3.2. Be critical in choosing sources and make sure that the information provided is correct. It is good press practice to aim for diversity and relevance in the choice of sources. If anonymous sources are used, or the publication is offered exclusivity, especially stringent requirements must be imposed on the critical evaluation of the sources. Particular caution should be exercised when dealing with information from anonymous sources, information from sources offering exclusivity, and information provided from sources in return for payment.
3.3. Good press conduct requires clarification of the terms on which an interview is being carried out. This also pertains to adjacent research. Any agreement regarding quote check should be made in advance of the interview, and it should be made clear what the agreement includes and what deadlines apply. Then, the editors decide for themselves what should finally be published.
3.4. Protect the sources of the press. The protection of sources is a fundamental principle in a free society. It is a prerequisite for the ability of the media to fulfill its duties towards society and ensure access to essential information.
3.5. Do not divulge the name of a person who has provided information on a confidential basis unless consent has been explicitly given by the person concerned.
3.6. In consideration of the sources and the independence of the press, unpublished material as a main rule should not be divulged to third parties.
3.7. The press must report the intended meaning in quotes from an interview. Direct quotes must be accurate.
3.8. Changes in a given statement should be limited to corrections of factual errors. No one without editorial authority may intervene in the editing or presentation of editorial material
3.9. Proceed tactfully in journalistic research. In particular, show consideration for people who cannot be expected to be aware of their statements’ effect. Never abuse the emotions or feelings of other people, their ignorance, or their lack of judgment. Remember that people in shock or grief are more vulnerable than others.
3.10. Hidden cameras/microphones or false identities may only be used under exceptional circumstances. The condition must be that such a method is the only possible way to uncover cases of essential importance to society.
3.11. The press shall, as a rule, not pay sources or interviewees for information. Exercise moderation when paying consideration for news tips. It is incompatible with good press practice to employ payment schemes designed to tempt people, without due cause, to invade the privacy of others or to disclose sensitive personal information.
4. Publication Rules
4.1.Make a point of fairness and thoughtfulness in contents and presentation.
4.2. Make plain what is factual information and what is a comment.
4.3. Always respect a person’s character and identity, privacy, ethnicity, nationality, and belief. Be careful when using terms that create stigmas. Never draw attention to personal or private aspects if they are irrelevant.
4.4. Ensure that headlines, introductions, and leads do not go beyond what is being related to the text. It is considered good press conduct to reveal your source when the information is quoted from other media.
4.5. In particular, avoid the presumption of guilt in crime and court reporting. Make it evident that the question of guilt, whether relating to somebody under suspicion, reported, accused, or charged, has not been decided until the sentence has legal efficacy. It is a part of good press conduct to say the final result of court proceedings, which have been reported earlier.
4.6. Always consider how reports on accidents and crime may affect the victims and next-of-kin. Do not identify victims or missing persons unless next-of-kin has been informed. Show consideration towards people in grief or at times of shock.
4.7. Be cautious in using names and photographs and other explicit identifiers of persons in referring to contentious or punishable matters. Particular caution should be exercised when reporting cases at the early stage of the investigation, cases concerning young offenders, and cases in which an identifying report may place an unreasonable burden on a third party. Identification must be founded on a legitimate need for information. It may, for instance, be fair to identify someone where there is imminent danger of assault on defenseless individuals, in the case of severe and repeated crimes, if the identity or social position of the subject is patently relevant to the claim being reported on, or where identification protects the innocent from exposure to unjustified suspicion.
4.8. Reporting on children, it is considered good press conduct to assess the implications that media focusing could cause in each case. This also pertains to when the person in charge or parent has agreed to exposure. However, as a general rule, children’s identities should not be disclosed in reports on family disputes or cases under consideration by the childcare authorities or by the courts.
4.9. Be cautious when reporting on suicide and attempted suicide. Avoid reporting that is not necessary for meeting a general need for information. Likewise, avoid description of methods or other matters that may contribute to provoking further suicidal actions.
4.10. Exercise caution when using photos in any other context than the original.
4.11. Protect the credibility of the journalistic photograph. Photos used as documentation must not be altered in a way that creates a false impression. For example, manipulated photos can only be accepted as illustrations if it is evident that it, in fact, is a picture collage.
4.12. The use of pictures must comply with the exact requirements of caution as for a written or oral presentation.
4.13. Incorrect information must be corrected, and, when called for, an apology is given as soon as possible.
4.14. Those who have been subjected to strong accusations shall, if possible, have the opportunity to reply as regards factual information simultaneously. Debates, criticism, and news dissemination must not be hampered by parties unwilling to make comments or participate in the discussion.
4.15. Those who have been the subject of an attack shall have the chance to reply at the earliest opportunity unless the attack and criticism are part of a running exchange of views. Any reply should be a reasonable length, pertinent to the matter, and seemly in its form. The reply can be refused if the party in question has rejected, without an objective reason, an offer of presenting a contemporaneous rejoinder on the same issue. A polemic editorial comment should not accompany replies and contributions to the debate.
4.16. Beware that digital publication pointers and links could bring you to other electronic media that do not comply with the Ethical Code. See to it that links to other media or publications are marked. It is considered good press conduct to inform the users of interactive services on how the publication registers you and possibly exploits your use of the services.
4.17. Should the editorial staff choose not to pre-edit digital chatting, this must be announced transparently for those accessing the pages. Furthermore, the editorial team has a particular responsibility, instantly to remove inserts that are not in compliance with the Ethical Code.
Breach of these standards
If a breach of these standards is discovered, please inform firstname.lastname@example.org