The National Code of Conduct (Danemarca)


The safeguarding of the freedom of speech in Denmark is closely connected with the free access of the press to collect information and news and to publish them as correctly as possible. Free comment is part of the exercise of the freedom of speech. In attending to these tasks the press recognizes that the individual citizen is entitled to respect for his personal integrity and the sanctity of his private life and the need for protection against unjustified violations.

Breach of good press practice comprises the withholding of rightful publification of information of essential importance to the public and compliance towards outsiders if this compliance can lead to doubts as to the freedom and independence of the mass media. It is also considered to be a breach of good press practice if tasks that are in conflict with these rules are placed upon a journalist.

A journalist ought not to be assigned to tasks that are contrary to his conscience or convictions.

The rules apply to all editorial materials (text and picture) published in the written periodical press, on radio, on television and the other mass media.

The rules also comprise advertisements and publicity in the written periodical press, in radio, in television and remaining mass media.

The rules also comprise advertisements and publicity in the written periodical press and the rest of the mass media to the extent, that no special rules have been established.

The rules include persons mentioned and depicted, including deceased persons and also corporations and similar associations.


A. Correct information

1. It is the duty of the press to convey correct and prompt information. As far as possible the corrections of the information should be verified.

2. The sources of news should be treated critically, in particular when such statements may be coloured by personal interest or clevious.

3. Information which may be prejudicial or insulting to somebody or detract from other persons’ opinion of the person concerned shall be very closely checked.

4. Attacks and rejoinders should, in cases in which doing so is reasonable, be published consecutively and in the same way.

5. It shall be made clear what is factual information and what is commentary.

6. Headlines and subheads shall as regards form and substance be substantiated by the article or publication in question. The same rule shall apply to so-called content bills.

7. Incorrect information shall be corrected on the editor’s own initiative if and as soon as knowledge of errors of importance in the published information is received. The correction shall be given such as a form that the readers can easily perceive the correction.

B. Conduct contrary to good press practice

1. Information which may violate the sanctity of private life shall be avoided unless an obvious interest requires press coverage. The individual man is entitled to protection of his personal reputation.

2. Suicides or attempted suicides should not be mentioned unless an obvious public interest requires or justifies press coverage, and in such a case the mention should be as considerate as possible.

3. Victims of crimes or accidents should be paid the greatest possible regard. The same rule applies to witnesses and the relatives of the persons concerned. Collection and reproduction of pictorial material shall be made in a considerate and tactful way.

4. There should be a clear dividing line between advertising and editorial text. Text and pictures occasioned by direct or indirect mercantile interests should be presented only if a clear journalistic criterion calls for publication.

5. Other people’s confidence must not be abused. Special regard should be paid to persons who cannot be expected to realize the effects of their statements. Other people’s feelings, ignorance, or failing self-control should not be abused.

C. Court reporting

1. The general ethical rules for journalists mentioned under A and B should also apply to court reporting.

2. The rules for court reporting shall also apply to the preparatory steps of a lawsuit or a trial, including the preparation of criminal bases by the police and the prosecution.

3. Court reporting should be objective. At any stage of the preparation of lawsuits and trials and during the hearing by the court, the journalists should aim at a qualitatively equal representation of the points of view of the parties – in criminal cases the points of view of the counsel for the prosecution and the counsel for the defence respectively. A mention of a criminal case should be followed up by an account of the end of the case, whether this reports a withdrawal of the charge, acquittal, or conviction.

4. The mention of people’s family history, occupation, race, nationality, creed, or membership of organisations shoud be avoided unless this has something directly to dowith the case.

5. As long as a criminal case has not been finally decided or the charge has not been withdrawn, no information must be published which may obstruct the resolution of the case, nor must pronouncements be published to the effect that a suspect or an accused is guilty. When a criminal case is mentioned, it shall clearly emerge from the report whether the suspect / accused has pleaded guilty or not guilty.

6. To the widest possible extent a clearly objective line shall be followed in deciding which cases shall be mentioned and in which cases the names of the persons involved shall be mentioned. A suspect’s or an accused’s name or other identification should be omitted if no public interest calls for the publication of the name.

7. Caution should be exercised in publishing statements to the effect that the police have been informed about a crime committed by a person mentioned by name. Such information should not as a rule be published until the information to the police has resulted in the intervention of the police or the prosecution. This rule shall not apply. hoever, if the conduct which the police have been informed about is known in advance wide circles or is of considerable public interest, or on the existing basis it must be assumed that the information to the police is solidly substantiated.

8. A suspect, accused, or convicted person shall be spared from having attention called to an earlier conviction if it is without significance in relation to the crimes of which he is suspected of, charged with, or convicted of. In connection with other news, a person’s previous convictions the earlier should not as a rule be mentioned.

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