Draft of new code of ethics
Published On 12 Apr, 2014 At 04:29 PM | With 0 Comments

Draft of proposed new code of ethics for Nigerian journalists

NIGERIAN JOURNALISTS’ CODE OF ETHICS AND DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

PREAMBLE

Journalists in Nigeria hold as sacrosanct the right of the public to know.

 

The social duties of Journalists in Nigeria include the advancement of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of the press, media independence, conflict transformation and peace building.

 

These are prerequisites for open governance and development, which ultimately serve the public interest.

 

In order to properly advance this public interest, earn public trust and be a credible watchdog of the society, the pursuit of the truth and public good shall be the cornerstone of journalism practice in Nigeria.

 

This makes it obligatory for every journalist to maximally comply with ethical principles and professional standards.

 

It also makes it obligatory for every journalist to be entitled to decent wages, protection from attacks or hazards and conducive practicing conditions.

 

Pursuant to these and conscious of their roles, functions and rights as purveyor of information, journalists in Nigeria hereby accede to the following Code of Ethics and Declaration of Rights.

 

It shall be binding on all journalists in Nigeria.

 

PART 1. THE CODE OF ETHICS

 

  1. 1.           EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

Editorial independence requires the editor or the reporter to discharge his/her duties to the best of his/her professional competence and experiential discretion. This requires non-interference from any quarters for that matter, to serve a given interest other than the factual and truthful mandate of journalistic practice. The independence of the Editor or the Reporter from internal and external restrictions is therefore essential for press freedom.

 

Accordingly:

 

DO(s)

  1. Decisions on the content of news shall be the responsibility of a professional journalist.
  2. A Journalist shall reserve the right to reject any outside interest that seeks to undermine editorial independence.
  3. The right to editorial independence shall be respected by all stakeholders.

 

DON’T(s)

 

i.        The managerial or business aspects of operating a news medium shall not be allowed to compromise professional editorial decision making.

  1.                     ii.        Sponsored content and infomercials shall not be published or presented as news; rather shall be identified as such.
  2.                   iii.        The personal interests of the journalist shall not be allowed to interfere with professional editorial decision making.

 

Any journalist that compromises editorial independence for pecuniary and/or other gains shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions.  

 

  1. TRUTHFUL INFORMATION & INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

 

Facts are sacred while opinions are free. The soul of good journalism is painstaking investigation and verification of facts. A journalist and a news medium as the chronicler of today’s events, and therefore tomorrow’s history, should act in the public interest by recording events as simple untailored facts.  

 

Accordingly:

DO(s)

 

  1.                      i.        A journalist shall enhance the right of the public to know through factually accurate, balanced, fair and all-inclusive information.
  2.                     ii.        A journalist shall write and present news truthfully and without bias.
  3.                   iii.        A journalist shall always separate facts from speculation, personal opinion or comment.
  4.                   iv.        A journalist shall act in the public interest when there is a conflict between factors requiring disclosure and those necessitating non-disclosure.
  5.                    v.        A journalist shall voluntarily make prompt correction where wrong or inaccurate information has been mistakenly disseminated.
  6.                   vi.        A journalist shall give equitable prominence to any correction or apology for wrong or inaccurate information
  7.                 vii.        A journalist shall at all times uphold the right of reply.
  8.                viii.        A journalist shall strive to give parties in a dispute, controversy or an issue, equitable opportunity to tell their side of the story.

 

DON’T(s)

 

i.        A journalist shall not publish unverified, inaccurate and misleading information.

  1.                     ii.        A journalist shall neither distort nor omit essential facts or deliberately publish false information.

 

Any journalist that knowingly disseminates false information; refuses to correct wrong information and fails to provide a retraction or offer apology for misinformation when obliged, shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions.  

 

  1. 3.           PROFESSIONAL INTEGRITY

 

Being the societal watchdog, the attributes of a good journalist include high sense of probity, self-respect and courage in the face of temptation or adversity.

 

The demand for or acceptance of bribe and gratification is therefore an aberration. Such practice not only compromises editorial independence, judgment and integrity; it also exposes the journalist to risk and the profession to ridicule.

 

The demand for payment to publish news is also inimical to the notion of news as fair, accurate, unbiased and factual report of an event.

 

Accordingly:

 

DO(s)

 

  1. A journalist shall use open and legitimate means to collect and publish information including photographs.
  2. A Journalist shall be conscious of his/her obligation to colleagues

 

DON’T(s)

 

                                    i.        A journalist shall neither solicit nor accept bribe, gratification or any form of patronage to publish or suppress information.

  1.                                     ii.        A journalist shall not present a syndicated report of an event he/she did not witness as his/her original coverage.
  2.                                   iii.        A journalist shall not use sensational headlines that mislead the public and bear no relation to the story
  3.                                   iv.        A journalist shall not deprive colleagues of means of livelihood through unfair actions.

Any journalist that compromises professional integrity either for pecuniary gains or personal reasons shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions.  

 

  1. 4.           PROTECTION OF SOURCES

 

Sources are important roots of information and vital links in the chain of investigation by the reporter. Reliable sources are therefore required for credible news reports.

 

Accordingly:

 

DO(s)

 

  1.   A Journalist shall question sources’ motive before promising anonymity.
  2.   A journalist shall clarify the conditions attached to promises made in exchange for information from sources.
  3.   A journalist shall uphold the confidentiality of sources.

DON’T(s)

  1.                                      i.        A journalist shall not disclose the source of information obtained in confidence, except where it involves crime.
  2.                                     ii.        A journalist shall not breach an agreement with a source on “off-the-record” or “background” information.

 

Any journalist that violates a confidentiality agreement with a source and exposes a source to risk shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions. 

 

  1. 5.           RESPECT FOR PRIVACY

 

Every person has the fundamental right to the protection of his/her privacy and is deserving of self-respect.

 

Accordingly:

 

DO(s)

 

  1. A journalist shall respect the right of an individual to privacy and human dignity.
  2. A journalist shall only make enquiries into or publish information about an individual where it serves the public interest of:
  3. a.           Exposing official misconduct by a public office holder.
  4. b.           Exposing the inability of a public official to perform his/her duties.
  5. c.            Exposing an individual for professional or other misconduct.

 

 

DON’T(s)

 

  1.                      i.        A journalist shall not publish information that deliberately disparages an individual.
  2.                     ii.        A journalist shall not present reports or publish photographs that are malicious, intrusive or compromise an individual’s right to privacy.

 

Any journalist that violates the right to privacy, when it is not in the public interest to so do, shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions. 

 

  1. 6.           RESPECT FOR PUBLIC SENSIBILITY

 

Good journalism practice involves the promotion of and respect for acceptable standards of public conduct.

 

Accordingly:

DO(s)

 

  1.                      i.        A journalist shall abide with the values of civility in the presentation of news and the use of photographs and videos.
  2.                     ii.        A journalist shall seek to obtain and treat information with empathy or discretion in cases involving personal grief or shock.

 

DON’T(s)

  1. A Journalist shall not publish materials or use languages that are obscene or offensive to public taste.
  2. A journalist shall not present lurid details, either in words or image, of abhorrent scenes of violence, disasters and sexual acts.
  3. A journalist shall not portray the female, either in words or image, as a commodity.
  4. A journalist shall not present or report acts of violence, armed robberies, terrorist activities or crude display of wealth in a manner that glorify such acts.
  5. A journalist shall not identify relatives or friends of persons accused or convicted of crime unless they are linked to the crime.

 

Any journalist that offends public sensibility shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions. 

 

  1. 7.           RESPECT FOR NATIONAL VALUES AND DIVERSITY

 

Journalism enhances social cohesion and common understanding by upholding societal values and diversities.

 

Accordingly:   

DO(s)

 

  1. A journalist shall promote the unity of the country and respect her social and cultural diversities.

 

DON’T(s)

 

  1. A journalist shall not publish information that encourages disintegration or division at the expense of the common good of the country.
  2. A journalist shall not publish information that encourages discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, belief, gender, health, disability and social status.
  3. A journalist shall not make pejorative or stereotypic reference to an individual’s ethnicity, belief, gender, physical or mental challenges and social status.

 

Any journalist that disseminates discriminatory information and denies fair access to disadvantaged groups in the society shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions. 

 

  1. 8.           RESPECT FOR RIGHTS OF CHILDREN AND MINORS

 

Good journalism protects and promotes the rights of children and minors.

 

Accordingly:

 

DO(s)

 

  1. A journalist shall interview children and minors involved in criminal or related cases, only with the consent of their parents or guardians.
  2. A journalist shall protect the identity of children under the age of 16 who are involved in sexual offences, crime and rituals either as victims, witnesses or defendants.

 

 

DON’T(s)

 

  1. A journalist shall not interview children and minors involved in criminal or related cases, without the consent of their parents or guardians.
  2. A journalist shall not identify by name, voice or image, children under the age of 16 who are involved in sexual offences, crime and rituals either as victims, witnesses or defendants.

 

Any journalist that undermines the right of children and minors shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions. 

 

  1. 9.           SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

 

Good journalism promotes the universal principles of fundamental human rights.

 

Accordingly:

 

DO(s)

 

  1. A journalist shall give equitable access to diverse groups in the society irrespective of gender, social, economic and political status.
  2. A journalist shall make effort to mainstream gender in reporting.
  3. A journalist shall give equitable access to parties, candidates and disadvantaged groups in political reporting.

 

DON’T(s)

 

i.        A journalist shall not deny access to any group in the society.

ii.        A journalist shall not denigrate a person on account of gender or social status.

iii.        A journalist shall not use sexist language in the writing and presentation of news.

iv.        A journalist shall not deny access to a party or candidate in an election on the account of being perceived as inconsequential.

 

Any journalist that denies fair access to diverse groups in the society or denies access to parties and candidates in political reporting shall have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions.

 

  1. RESPECT FOR COPYRIGHT

 

The credible gathering and dissemination of information requires that the journalist refrains from falsely attributing to him/herself other people’s intellectual products.

 

Accordingly:

 

DO(s)

 

i.        A journalist shall properly acknowledge the original author of a reproduced text, recording and image.

  1.                                     ii.        A journalist shall abide by all rules of copyright, established by national and international laws and conventions.

 

DON’T(s)

 

  1. A journalist shall not plagiarise other people’s work.

 

Any journalist that plagiarises shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanction 

  1. 11.       CONFLICT SENSITIVITY 

Violent conflicts undermine societal peace and social development; they also endanger the media and journalists who sometimes are victims. It is the responsibility of the journalist to work for the prevention or reduction of conflict, promotion of reconciliation and advancement of common value of peace without compromising the duty to inform.

Accordingly:

DO(s)

  1. A journalist shall give fair access and hearing to parties from diverse sides of a conflict.
  2. A journalist shall use temperate language in reporting communal tensions, incidents, riots, and communal disturbances.
  3. A journalist shall use restrained headlines and images in reporting tensions and conflicts.
  4. A journalist shall keep to the facts and avoid blemish or slants in reporting tensions and conflicts.
  5. A journalist shall be cautious in reporting figures and identity of casualties in conflicts.

 

DON’T(s)

i.        A journalist shall not employ intemperate language capable of inflaming passions in reporting tensions and conflicts.

  1.                     ii.        A journalist shall not invent, distort or exaggerate the facts and grievances of conflicts.
  2.                   iii.        A journalist shall not present unverified rumours, suspicions, inferences and partisan views as facts of conflicts.
  3.                   iv.        A Journalist shall not make negative remarks about the race, nationality, belief and opinion of parties in conflict.

Any journalist whose conduct contributes to the escalation of tension and conflicts shall be deemed to have violated the letters and principles of this code and may be liable to sanctions.


PART 2: THE DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

 

  1.    Every journalist shall be entitled to competitive remunerations and allowances commensurate to functions, responsibilities and other benefits emanating from collective bargaining agreement.

 

  1.    Every journalist shall be entitled to adequate protection from threats and attacks.

 

  1.    Every journalist shall be entitled to insurance protection against potential dangers in the course of practice.

 

  1.    Every journalist shall have the right to belong to professional union or association.

 

  1.    Every journalist shall have the right to seek and obtain information of public interest in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and other relevant laws.

 

  1.     Every journalist shall have the right to monitor governance and hold government accountable in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

 

  1. Every journalist shall have the right to protect sources of information.

 

  1. Every journalist shall have the right to refuse directives or interferences that compromise or undermine editorial independence.

 

  1.     Every journalist shall have the right to be informed about the general policy of his/her news organisation.

 

  1.     Every journalist shall have the right to be informed about decisions affecting editorial content and the future of the organisation as a whole.

 

  1.     Every journalist shall have the right to continuous professional training, retraining and decent working conditions.

 

  1. Every journalist shall have the right to be appointed an Editor on the basis of professional competence.

 

INTERPRETATION

Journalist: For the purpose of this code of ethics, a Journalist, means any person engaged in the collection, processing and dissemination of information for use in the print, broadcast and online media

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