Thursday, October 15, 2009

The moral responsibility of a journalist


With the internet and news outlets growing and the increasing amount of journalists, the quality of news articles unfortunately deteriorates. If everyone can and is allowed to write, what else could one expect? Lies turn into truth. Dubious myths turn into facts. Reports from many organizations are believed without checking the facts. We live in an era wherein journalists copy others without checking facts, write illogical conclusions and spread lies, libels and other inaccuracies without being rebuked and wherein self-criticism is a word which does not exist in the dictionaries of most journalists.

And that while they are the ones informing us, citizens of the world. We have a right to be informed correctly. So we can make true judgments and will not be tempted to emotionally react on reported misinformation about a certain event

Therefore, more than ever I feel obliged to remind all journalists of the world the Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists - also known as the Code of Bordeaux:

IFJ Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists

"This international Declaration is proclaimed as a standard of professional conduct for journalists engaged in gathering, transmitting, disseminating and commenting on news and information in describing events.

1. Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.

2. In pursuance of this duty, the journalist shall at all times defend the principles of freedom in the honest collection and publication of news, and of the right of fair comment and criticism.

3. The journalist shall report only in accordance with facts of which he/she knows the origin. The journalist shall not suppress essential information or falsify documents.

4. The journalist shall use only fair methods to obtain news, photographs and documents.

5. The journalist shall do the utmost to rectify any published information which is found to be harmfully inaccurate.

6. The journalist shall observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information obtained in confidence.

7. The journalist shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national or social origins.

8. The journalist shall regard as grave professional offences the following:
* plagiarism;
* malicious misrepresentation;
* calumny, slander, libel, unfounded accusations;
* acceptance of a bribe in any form in consideration of either publication or suppression.

9. Journalists worthy of the name shall deem it their duty to observe faithfully the principles stated above. Within the general law of each country the journalist shall recognise in professional matters the jurisdiction of colleagues only, to the exclusion of every kind of interference by governments or others."

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