The Code of Journalistic Ethics (Polonia)
(A Declaration by the Governing Board of SDP)
Accepting the principles of the Media Ethic Charter and the declarations of the International Federation of Journalists we acknowledge, that:
– The task of a journalist is to transmit reliable and neutral information, diverse opinions and to enable participation in the public debate.
– Freedom of speech must be accompanied by responsibility for any material published in the press or through radio, television or the Internet.
– The common good and the interests of readers, listeners and viewers shall have priority over the interests of the author, the editor, the publisher or the broadcaster.
I – Information and opinions
1. Information has to be clearly distinguished from interpretation and opinions.
2. Information should be balanced and exact, so that the recipient can differentiate between facts and assumptions or gossip. Information should also be presented in the appropriate context and rest on trustworthy sources which – if possible – represent various points of view.
3. Opinions may be biased, but should not distort the facts or be the outcome of external pressure.
4. Mistakes and lapses need be corrected as soon as possible, even if they were not the fault of the author or the editorial office, irrespective of whether someone demands their correction.
II – Gathering and reworking material
5. In the gathering of material, using illegal or unethical methods is inadmissible; the use of a hidden camera or a microphone and phone-tapping are acceptable – with the knowledge and approval of one’s superiors – only in the case of so-called investigative journalism revealing crime, corruption or misuse of power in the name of the public interest.6. The privacy or intimacy of a person may not be disturbed, with a possible exception – in justified circumstances – in the case of investigative journalism. This also concerns public figures.
7. The journalist is obliged to respect the secrecy of a source of information and the identity and image of an informant on his/her request; this secret information may be revealed only to one’s superiors.
8. Reworking or shortening information, an opinion or an interview should not change its meaning or significance. The use of archival material or the reconstruction of events in electronic media should be properly marked.
III – The Journalist in relation to interlocutors and recipients
9. Interlocutors should be informed about the way their utterance is to be used; authorization for the use of given information must be requested if the interlocutor makes such a reservation; statements by children may be used only with approval from their parents or a person having legal custody over them.
10. A journalist should show respect to other persons, regardless of ideological, cultural or moral differences of opinion; this does not mean agreeing with their views.
11. No harm should be caused to the physically or mentally disabled, the elderly, the ill or the practically challenged.
12. Special prudence should be exercised when reporting on new medical methods if they have not yet been fully tested and are merely experimental in character. Predictions and horoscopes may not be presented as reliable information or instructions.
13. The language of reporting should be careful, vulgarisms and obscene expressions should be avoided.
IV – Crime and exceptional situations
14. When revealing criminal acts and information about their suspected perpetrators, far reaching consideration should be exercised in avoiding descriptions which make possible the imitation of antisocial deeds. The guilt of the offender should not be prejudged before a court has issued a legally valid verdict.
15. In relation to wars, riots or demonstrations a journalist should behave as an uncommitted observer in order not to become a subject of manipulation.
16. Showing close-up scenes of death is inadmissible, the bloody consequences of war or natural disasters, acts of atrocity or violence may be described and shown only on condition that a balance is maintained between exact reporting and the sensibility of the recipients, especially the families of victims and persons close to them.
V – Conflict of interests
17. The reliability and independence of a journalist is irreconcilable with receiving presents worth more than 200 zlotys, taking advantage of free travel or testing products or appliances.
18. A journalist is not allowed to engage in sales promotion or participate in advertisement or public relations, only with the possible exception of social campaigns or charity; editorial material must be clearly distinguished from commercial or promotional content.
19. Hidden advertising or concealing information for one’s own benefit is highly reprehensible.
20. A journalist may not use for his/her own benefit from classified information obtained in professional activity, especially in the field of financial or economic journalism
21. Direct engagement in (party-) political activity by journalists is also an indication of a conflict of interests, thus accepting such positions or involvement in public administration or political organizations should be ruled out.
VI – Colleagues and superiors
22. Relations between co-workers should be collegial, unfair competition and the appropriation of someone else’s work or even thoughts is inadmissable.
23. Journalistic loyalty to superiors, publishers or broadcasters constitutes an obligation, but not the power to give a journalist orders which are against the law, professional ethics or his/her convictions. A journalist has a right to decline such orders.
VII – Responsibility and penalties
24. Both the author of a publication in the press, radio, television or the Internet, as well as he editor, publisher or broadcaster of the content are responsible for violations against the principles of journalistic ethics.
25. Journalists’ courts impose penalties appropriate to the character and scale of the misdemeanour by admonition, through reprimand and temporary witholding of membership rights in the SDP to expulsion from the association. The Supreme Journalists’ Court may publically pronounce its verdict in the media.