Code of Professional Ethics for Journalists

Considering freedom of speech an important support to a democratic system and the people’s right to know the truth, WE, journalists always and everywhere struggle against its limitation and evince it as the main duty of the media. Taking into consideration all above-mentioned facts we declare that we will conform to the Professional Principles mentioned below:

Principle 1: To serve truth, accuracy and objectivity

1.1 The primary goal of journalism is the dissemination of truth; and objectiveness is the main professional criterion.

1.2 A journalist should study the critical slant in his/her article. In case of impossibility, conditions should be created for the target of criticism to voice his/her opinion, if he/she so demands. Pluralism principles should be followed.

1.3 Comments in the paper should be expressed in such a way that a reader could differentiate them from news, facts and accept them as the position journalist stands for.

Principle 2: Attentive approach to information sources

2.1 The source must be noted while disseminating official information on organizations, parties, societies and other groups. However, if the information provider prefers to be anonymous, a journalist or information body must adhere to his/her privacy rules. The confidentiality of the source of information should be protected if the purpose of the information does not cause confusion.

2.2 The information provided by unofficial sources, its authenticity and information value should be disseminated without further checking. When information is being sent out for print, its connotation should not be misinterpreted. When quoting from another article and speech, a journalist should note precisely where the quotation starts and ends. While printing photo-symbols (illustration, photomontage), it should be noted that the photograph does not characterize a document. The titles of the articles should correspond to their subjects.

2.3 A journalist should try to have his/her interview signed by interviewee or his/her nominee. If this is not feasible, the interview and even the questions to be posed by the journalist and whether there are going to be changes or not should be notified beforehand.

Principle 3: Protection of honour and dignity, inviolability of personal life

3.1 A journalist must not condemn people by reason of nationality, race, sex, language, profession, religion, and place of birth nor exaggarate such information.

3.2 A journalist should respect the honour, dignity, and inviolability of the personal life of the person he met with and has featured.

3.3 A journalist cannot disseminate facts on citizens’ personal lives without their consent, unless it conflicts with the public interest and is of no public significance.

3.4 A journalist and the mass media must rectify errors as soon as possible, regardless of who discovered them. During amend­ment, it should be clearly stated whether the information was wholly or partly incorrect.

3.5 While publishing letters indicating personal information, the author, sender and person’s beneficiaries should be asked for permission.

3.6 The name or picture of a victim of a bereavement or crime must not be publicised without her/his consent. This is possible in special situations, only when the victim is a public figure. If the crime was committed by teenagers or children and is not of public importance, the dissemination of names or pictures of the perpetrators must be avoided.

3.7. Publication of the name and picture of a suspect is possible when it may be of help or the person has already been arrested or there is a link between his job and the crime committed.

3.8 If the mass media disseminate information on the arrest of any citizen as a suspect, after his/her innocence is proven, this must be announced.

Principle 4: Protection of journalist’s rights and the right’s of the organization he/she works for

4.1 Expensive presents, and free services may damage the reputation of the journalist and the media he/she represents. Therefore a journalist must not accept any presents for the position he/she holds or should not create conditions for free services. A journalist must not use a news document for realization of his/her personal interests.

4.2. During his/her employment in newsroom, a journalist should avoid membership of any political organization or work that may damage the reputation and credibility of the media.

4.3. If the news task is contrary to the law and professional behaviour, a journalist has a right to refuse to do it. If there is a misinter­pre­tation of a journalist’s opinion during the editing, he/she has a the right to refuse to sign the piece.

4.4. A journalist ought to keep the source secret, if it is not related to the violation of laws of Azerbaijan Republic and Profes­sio­nal Behaviour Rules.

4.5. Journalist cannot propose material he/she has prepared to others without consulting the management of the media he/she works for.

4.6. Plagiarism is not acceptable.

4.7. A journalist must avoid the use of vulgar expressions, jargon and should try to enhance, to enrich and protect the purity of the Azerbaijani language.

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