Code of Ethics for Professional Journalists

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PREAMBLE

The Code of Professional Ethics and Social Responsibility of the Greek journalists has the following objectives:

  • To reaffirm and ensure the social role of the journalist in the new conditions which are formed by gigantism, oligarchy in the ownership status quo, the increased range and influence of the mass media and the globalization of communication.
  • To discourage and to resist any attempt of state or other party to influence self-determination in standards of responsible professional functioning.
  • To ensure freedom of information and expression, the autonomy and dignity of the journalist, and to defend freedom as part of democracy and society.

For this purpose, journalists commit themselves to applying and defend the following fundamental principles:

Article 1

It is the inalienable right of man and citizen to inform and to be informed freely. Information is a public good and not a commodity or means of propaganda.

The journalist is competent and obliged:

a. To consider the publication of the whole truth as his foremost duty towards society and himself.

b. To consider distortion, concealment, falsification and fabrication of real events as both an offence against society and a self-degrading act.

c. To respect and uphold the distinction between news, commentary and advertising messages, the necessary correlation between title and text, and the accurate use of photographs, images, graphic depictions and other representations.

d. To convey information and news without being influenced by his personal political, social, religious, racial or cultural views and convictions.

e. To investigate in advance, with a sense of responsibility and recognition of the consequences, the accuracy of the information and news which he is to report.

f. To redress without delay, through analogous presentation and suitable accentuation, inaccurate information and false assertions which impugn the honour and reputation of man and citizen, and to print or present the opposite view, without necessarily a rejoinder which would place such in a preferential position to the injured party.

Article 2

Journalism as a profession, but also as a social service, entails rights, duties and obligations.

The journalist is competent and obliged:

a. To address citizens equally, without distinction of national origin, sex, race, religion, political views, economic situation or social position.

b. To respect the individuality, dignity and inviolable privacy of man and citizen. Only when requisite can the right to information entail, and always in a responsible manner, elements of the personal lives of individuals who occupy public office or who hold a particular position and influence in society and are subject to social scrutiny.

c. To respect the presumption of innocence and to not anticipate judicial decisions.

d. To respect the protection provided for by international conventions of minors and individuals with special needs and serious health problems.

e. To address citizens with discretion and sensitivity when they are in situations of grief, psychological shock and pain, as well as those who have manifest psychological problems, avoiding projection of their personal particularity.

f. Not to reveal, either directly or indirectly, the identity of rape victims who survived the criminal act.

g. To supervise and substantiate information which refers to sensitive areas of health, where misleading information and sensational projection can provoke unjustified agitation in public opinion.

h. To gather and crosscheck information and to ensure its substantiation (writing, photographs, cassettes, television images) through journalistically legitimate methods, always disclosing their journalistic origin.

i. To adhere to professional discretion as to the source of information which has been obtained in confidence.

j. To respect the standards of off-the-record information which has been pledged as such.

Article 3

Equality in human rights and pluralism, the lifeblood of democracy, are discredited by conditions of state monopolistic control of the mass media, and are undermined by the concentration of their ownership in the hands of gigantic profiteering enterprises which confront public opinion as being the consumer whose views, habits and behaviour by and large, they seek to guide.

For this reason, the journalist is competent and obliged:

a. To vigorously defend the democratic constitution, which ensures a free press and the unobstructed exercise of the journalistic profession.

b. To reject and condemn manifestations of state authoritarianism and the arbitrariness of mass media proprietors, especially that of oligopolies.

c. To defend the journalist's independence in his workplace, and to refuse to carry out an assignment which is contrary to the principles of journalistic ethics.

d. To refuse to edit news, commentary, article or broadcast production under intimidation by his seniors or editor, if their content does not correspond to reality; and to condemn falsifications and distortions, unbeknown to him, of his journalistic production.

Article 4

The surplus of labour in the area of journalism accentuates the preconditions for the manifestation of exploitative phenomena, namely: unsalaried or symbolically rewarded labour, the violation of standard obligations and codes of ethics etc.

For this reason, the journalist is competent and obliged:

a. To support and strengthen the activities of his union organization which aim at the improvement of the terms of salary and employment in the mass media.

b. To reject any attempt at reduction of workers' rights in the workplace and any violation of ethical standards.

c. To neither exercise nor accept any form of differentiation whatsoever based upon the sex or years of his colleagues in the profession.

Article 5

Transparency in financial relationships constitutes a fundamental element of the credibility, prestige and professional dignity of the journalist who is obliged:

a. To neither pursue nor accept rewards from private appropriations of state departments and public or private organizations for his journalistic work.

b. To neither pursue nor accept sinecure or a rewarded position related to his specialty in the press office, public services or private enterprises, which cast doubt on his professional autonomy and impartiality.

c. To neither pursue nor accept the promotional use of his name, voice or image, except for purposes of public benefit.

d. To neither report nor self-interestedly utilize exclusive information which influences the course of stock exchange values and the market.

e. To neither pursue nor accept any financial or material bonus whatsoever which compromises his credibility and dignity and which influences his independence and impartiality.

Article 6

Solidarity among colleagues and the mutual respect of journalists contribute positively to the collective professional objectives and to the common image of the journalistic profession.

For this reason, the journalist is obliged:

a. To respect the individuality of his colleagues. To not level unwarranted accusations against them, and to avoid personal recriminations both publicly and in the workplace.

b. To consider any plagiarism to be a grave and unprofessional act.

c. Not to appropriate the work of his colleagues. To always refer to the name of the author whose texts or extracts are used.

d. To note the source of information which has already been published or reported.

Article 7

The gigantism of the mass media and the globalization of communications significantly increase the educational and cultural role of the electronic and printed press. With the additional responsibilities of the new conditions, the journalist is obliged:

a. To contribute to the re-evaluation of the journalistic word, avoiding grammatical, syntactic and semantic violations.

b. To avoid vulgarisms, vulgarity and linguistic barbarity, observing , even in satire and caricature, the standards of professional ethics and social responsibility.

c. To protect the Greek language from the excessive use of foreign words and terms.

d. To creatively contribute to the protection of our national tradition and to the security of our cultural heritage.

Article 8

The obligations of journalists, which are derived from the Code do not constitute a limitation to freedom of expression. Violations of these obligations will be examined by the Disciplinary Committees of the Unions, until the Articles of the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists' Unions (POESY) are amended.