South East Europe Media Organization Declaration

(adopted on 11 May 2002 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, by 34 editors-in-chief and media executives from the (Former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia participating in a seminar on “The Media and Conflict Prevention in FYRO Macedonia and the Surrounding Region” .)

  1. Truth: Journalists shall always strive to avoid publishing falsehood. Reporting shall be based on thoroughly researched material.
  2. Accuracy: Journalists shall always strive to avoid suppressing relevant facts and avoid publishing misleading statements and hints.
  3. Fairness: Journalists shall always strive to report events from all the relevant perspectives.
  4. Protection of Privacy: Journalists shall not intrude into private spheres unless there is strong cause to believe that the findings could be in the public interest. Nonetheless, public figures, in particular those holding political office, should also be prepared to accept more media scrutiny than private personalities.
  5. Libel and Defamation: Journalists shall respect every person’s honour and reputation. No one shall be considered guilty of an offence by media reports unless a court of law has ruled that person guilty of that same offence. However, libel and defamation, if not proven malicious in intent, should not be a criminal offence, and truth should be a defence.
  6. Human Rights and Dignity: Journalists shall publish the truth whenever human rights are violated, regardless of the consequences. These issues override any other limitations on freedom of expression.
  7. Editorial Independence: Editors and journalists should serve the public first. Information must be based on the interest of the public instead of on the interest of the disseminators.
  8. News, Opinion and Advertisement: Editors should always strive to separate reporting news and facts from opinion pieces and both of these from advertisement.
  9. Right of Reply: Anyone who feels damaged by reporting or published opinion shall have the right to respond and the possibility of having his/her response published in the forum where the allegations surfaced, as long as he or she can prove that the statement is false.
  10. Confidentiality of Sources: The journalist shall observe professional secrecy regarding any source of information obtained in confidence. The journalist shall resist by all means giving up the names or identities of sources who wish to remain anonymous. The right of confidentiality of sources must be guaranteed by law.
  11. Incitement to Violence and Hatred: Journalists shall avoid inflaming violence and hatred. Racism, hate speech, xeno¬phobia, prejudice and religious, ethnic, cultural, sexist and political intolerance shall not be part of journalistic practice. The media shall not be part of discrimination on any of the afore¬men¬tioned grounds.

In consequence of the above, the journalists of the region must discuss the creation of a much more detailed code of good journalistic practice in co-operation with international media organisations. SEEMO will co-ordinate this project.

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