The Code of Ethics of the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists
„Everybody has a right to freedom of conviction and expression; this right does not allow that anybody suffers for his / her conviction and includes that right to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas by any means regardless of borders.” (General Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, December 10, 1948)
The complex of the rights and duties of the journalists results from the above mentioned right of the public to know facts and opinions. The responsibility of the journalist to the public is superior to all other responsibilities, especially to those concerning their employers and governmental powers.
„Accomplishing these rights and freedoms everybody is only submitted to such limitations that are given by the Law exclusively for the purpose of securing the acknowledgement and preservation of right and freedoms of other people, and the fulfilment of the righteous demands of morals, public order and general welfare in the democratic society” (General Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, Paragraph 2)
In accordance with these regulations (the articles of the General Declaration of Human Rights and in accordance with the spirit and the wording of the International Pact of Civic and Political Rights) the journalists in Slovakia lay down the following professionally obligatory ethical limits:
I. The journalist and the public
The journalist will do everything which is necessary to give the public veracious, precise, verified, complete and professional information. The veracity of information necessitates that the facts as its base are given as objectively as possible, in their real context, without any distortion or withholding the circumstances, with appropriate use of journalist’s creative abilities. If some facts cannot be verified it is necessary to mention this. The journalist can freely express personal or group opinions within the limits of the pluralistic context of ideas if he does not violate the civil rights of another person or group of persons and if he does not undermine societal morals. At the same time, he himself has to respect the request for a free exchange of opinions and for a free flow of information. He always respects the bounds of good taste and the suitability of his means of expression. He has a right and a moral duty to refuse to publish such information which he finds untrue, half-true (distorted), speculative, incomplete or commercially directed (so-called hidden advertisement).
If the journalist publishes untrue, half-true (distorted), speculative or incomplete information, he must rectify it, including the publication of a correction or response. The correction must be published in an approximately identical graphical arrangement, preferably in the same place as the information being corrected. The rejoinder of the author of the original information should not be supplemented by the response so that one party does not have a permanent advantage.
Unfounded accusations, abuse of trust, profession or media for personal or collective benefit, falsification of documents, distortion of facts, any lie and purposeful withholding of knowledge of the violation of law and societal morals are regarded by the journalist as the greatest professional guilt.
II. The journalist and the object of his interests
The journalist assumes responsibility for everything published by him. Without the consent of the person concerned he may not defame this person, interfere with his private life. if this person does not break the Law or cause public offence. The journalist will not publish an interview if the person does not so wish, the journalist consents to give the statement person’s authorship if the person so wishes.
For the sake of objectivity, the journalist tries in the course of the preparation of his work or its realization to give all the persons concerned voice.
III. The journalist and the information source
The journalist has an undeniable right of free access to all information sources.
The journalist is obliged to immediality let his informant know about his intentions as an author.
When collecting information he does not use pressure.
He is not allowed to misuse either the events and statements the witness to which he was, nor the documents reproduced by him.
The journalist is obliged to keep his information sources secret until he is exempted from this duty by the informant or by the court.
IV. The journalist and editorial staff or publisher
The journalist has a right to such a contract that secures his material needs and his professional honour.
He has a right to refuse any pressure on him to act against his conviction. He only accepts orders from his superiors according to the terms of his contract.
The journalist has a right to be protected by his direct superior and publisher by all legal and accessible means, including the protection of his right to use a pseudonym. The journalist must not pursue private and subjective interests for his personal gain, he does not sign his own name under work which is commercial or payed advertisements.
The editorial staff is entitled to be consulted by the editorial or publisher’s board on all decisions important to the work of the staff mentioned.
V. The journalist and his colleagues
The journalist will not publish somebody else’s work or excerpts thereof under his own name.
He may not quote from any publication without citing the source.
He will not offer his work for publication simultaniously to more editors.
Without the author’s consent he does not intervene in the contents of the work.
He does not decrease the authority and abilities of his colleagues, during collective work he respects their needs and opinions.
VI. The journalist and the public interest
The journalist holds in due respect the Constitutional State Order, its democratic institutions, the valid Law and generally accepted moral principles of the society.
The journalist must not promote aggressive wars, violence and aggressiveness as the means of international conflicts solution, political, civic, racial, national, religious and other sorts of intolerance. The journalists shows due respect to other states, nations, to their democratic traditions and institutions, to their culture and morals.