Code of Professional Ethics for Journalists
1. Under all circumstances, the journalist is under the obligation to act according to the ethical principles set forth in this code – this is an indispensable condition for a person to be a journalist.
2. The journalist will be aware of the fact that information and communication have an extremely important role in forming citizens’ personal attitudes and developing society towards democracy, and that the mass media have a great ethical responsibility to citizens, while journalism involves rights and obligations, responsibilities and liberties. Information is a fundamental of a citizen, who also has the related right to have that information passed on to him accurately and honestly, and when it comes to opinion, without external interference from public authorities or from the private sector.
3. The journalist will observe the laws of his country, but in all issues regarding the observation of professional obligations the journalist will acknowledge the exclusive jurisdiction of his colleagues and reject any attempt by his government or anyone else to apply pressure or interfere.
4. The main principle on which to base any ethical judgement passed on the journalist will be the clear separation of information from opinion, so as to make it impossible to mistake one for the other.
5. The journalist will publish only the current information of which he is sure and whose origin he knows very well. Presentation, description and narration should be impartial. The journalist will not resort to illegal and dishonest ways of obtaining information. The journalist will acknowledge the right of individuals and legal entities not to provide information and not to answer his questions, except for the cases when the interviewee is under a legal obligation to provide information.
If a journalist is certain that he has made a mistake by publishing false or manipulated information, then he is under the obligation to remedy such mistake by the same written and/or broadcast means that have been used for the publication of that information. When necessary, the journalist should apologise through the media outlet which employs him.
6. Although opinions are subjective by their very nature, and therefore should not be subject to scrutiny as to accuracy regarding reality, they should nevertheless be subject to honesty and ethics when they are expressed.
7. The journalist ought not to accept, either directly or indirectly, any compensation or fees from third parties for the publication of any kind of stories or opinions.
8. The journalist will be responsible trough his name and reputation for the truthfulness of every piece of information, for the objectivity of every opinion published under his signature, pen-name, or anonymously but to which he has agreed. No one has the right to prevent a journalist from not signing a piece of information or opinion which was distorted, even if partially, against his will.
9. The journalist will observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information obtained on confidential terms. No one has the right to force a journalist to disclose his source. The right to anonymity can be broken only in exceptional circumstances, when there is a suspicion that the source distorted the truth knowingly, as well as when the disclosure of the source’s name is the only way to avoid serious and imminent damage to other people. The journalist is under the obligation not to disclose the opinions expressed by his interviewees if the interviewees requested him so.
10. The journalist will respect the honour and reputation of the individuals who become objects of his professional interest. He will refrain from any contemptuous remarks or comments regarding the race, nationality, colour, confession, social origin or sex, as well as regarding a physical disability or illness affecting the person he reports on. The journalist will refrain from publishing such information except for the cases when such circumstances are directly linked to the story. The journalist is under the obligation to avoid using insulting expressions which may cause moral or physical injury. When dealing with any kind of issues the journalist will protect democratic values by peaceful means and in the spirit of tolerance, will oppose violence, hate speech and confrontation, will oppose any discrimination based on culture, sex or creed.
11. In the information and opinions he presents, a journalist should observe the presumption of innocence until the court issues a verdict. In stories from court rooms, the journalist will refrain from mentioning the names of friends or relatives of people under investigation, except for the cases when this is required for an objective description of the case. The journalist will also refrain from mentioning the name of a crime victim and publishing information which may lead to the disclosure of the victim’s identity.
12. The journalist will respect the right of individuals to privacy. Public officials are also justified in not disclosing their private life except for the cases when their private life may affect their public activity. The restrictions on interference will also be strictly observed in relation to persons working in medical or similar institutions.
13. The journalist will be aware that his status is incompatible with governmental, legislative or legal service, as well as with positions of leadership in political parties and other politically-oriented organisations. The journalist will be aware that his professional activity will be suspended as soon as he takes up a weapon.
14. The journalist ought not to follow his profession with the main objective of acquiring prestige and personal influence. The journalist will see as undignified the situation when he would use his reputation, authority, as well as his professional possibilities in order to publish commercial information or advertising, especially when the nature of such information is not obvious in the form in which it is published. The mere combination of journalistic and advertising activities is deemed inadmissible from an ethical point of view.
15. The journalist should not use for personal ends or in the interest of people of his close acquaintance, confidential information that he possesses by virtue of his profession.
16. The journalist will value and protect the professional rights of fellow journalists, and will observe the laws of fair competition. The journalist will respect, and will make others respect, the copyright in any creative area. Plagiarism is inadmissible. Every time a journalist in any way uses work done by other journalists, he will refer to the author’s name.
17. During his contacts with public authorities or various businesses in the course of carrying out his professional duties, the journalist ought to avoid any complicity that may affect his independence and impartiality.
18. The journalist will reject any assignment if it might lead him into violating any of the principles set out in this Code of Ethics.
19. The journalist will make use of, and protect, his right to use all guarantees provided by the civil and criminal legislation of the Republic of Moldova in law bodies and in others.
20. The present code of ethical principles may serve as argumentative basis in cases reviewed by law bodies and other bodies, in any litigation which involves the journalist himself or the product of his professional activity.
21. In order to render applicable the principles set forth in the present Code of Professional Ethics journalists should create a monitoring mechanism. Such a mechanism is represented by the National Professional Ethics Board for Journalists, which has its own Rules of Operation, consists of famous journalists, is elected by the Convention of the Journalists’ Union of Moldova, and signed by representatives from all the media organisations in the Republic of Moldova, being thereby recognised by all the journalists working in the media throughout the country.
22. Should there be a corresponding request from legal bodies or other bodies, the National Ethics Board may issue examination resolutions for a litigation involving the journalist himself or the product of his professional activity, and is the only expert body in this area of professional self-regulation.