Charter of Duties of Journalists

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INTRODUCTION

The journalist's job is inspired by principles of freedom of information and of opinion, it is confirmed by the Italian Constitution and governed by the second article of the Italian law n. 1969 dated 3 February 1963.

"Freedom of information and of expression are insuppressible rights of all journalists, they are limited by the observance of the rules of law and suggested to the protection of other people's personality, they always follow all duties set by loyalty and good faith, the respect of the truth of facts is an inalianable duty. All news, that is inexact must be rectified, and eventual mistakes must be corrected. Journalists and publishers are obliged to respect the professional secrecy of the sources of a piece of information when it is required by their fiduciary character; they have to promote the spirit of collaboration between colleagues, cooperation between journalists and publishers, and trust in the press and in readers."

The relationship of trust between information organs and people is the foundation for every journalists' job. To promote and maintain of this relationship all Italian journalists undersign the following Ethic Code (Carta de Doveri).

PRINCIPLES

A journalist has to respect, cultivate and defend the right to information of all people; for these reasons he researches and diffuses every piece of information that he considers of public interest in observance of truth and with a wide accuracy of it.

A journalist researches and spreads news of public interest in spite of the obstacles which can arise in his work; he makes every effort to guarantee people knowledge and control of all public documents.

A journalist's responsibility towards people always prevails over any other thing. A journalist can never subordinate his responsibility to other people's interest and particularly to the publishers' interest, government's interest or the interst of the other organizations of the state.

A journalist has to respect people, their dignity and right to secrecy and never discriminate against anyone due to his race, his religion, his sex, his mental and physical condition, his political views.

A journalist rectifies, speedily and with accuracy, his mistakes or his imprecisions in conformity with the duty to rectify as established by law, he favours his possibility of rectify.

A journalist always respects the right of presumption of innocence.

A journalist has to observe professional secrecy when it is required by the fiduciary character of his sources. In any other cases a journalist has to respect the transparency of the sources.

A journalist may not belong to secret associations orthose in any way contrary to the eighteenth article of the Italian Constitution.

A journalist cannot accept benefits, favours or tasks that impair his autonomy and his professional credibility. A journalist cannot omit facts or details essential for a complete reconstruction of events. Titles, summaries, photos and subtitles must not either distort reality or forge the contents of all articles and news.

A journalist must not publish images and photos of people involved in daily episodes which are particularly terrifying or prejudical to people's dignity, nor may he dwell upon details of violence or brutality unless for a preminent reason of social interest. He may not intervene in reality to create artificial images.

Comments, opinions belong to the right of speech and of criticism and, therefore, they have to be absolutely free from any obligation, except for the constraint set by law against offence, dematory and violence of people.

DUTIES

A journalist's responsibility

A journalist is responsible for his job towards people, he has to respect their dialogue with ombudsman. He has to create idoneus instruments (reader's guarantee, pages for readers, spaces for reply etc.), giving a wide diffusion to their activity.

A journalist only accepts suggestions and instructions from the editorial hierarchy of his newspaper, as long as the dispositions are not against the professional law, against the national Italian journalist's work contract (CNLG) and the Ethic Code (Carta dei Doveri).

A journalist cannot discriminate against people on grounds of race, religion, mental and physical conditions or political opinions.

Circumstances that are not extenuating, references that are not insulting or denigratory concerning people and their privacy are only accepted when they are relevant to the public interest.

A journalist respects the right of secrecy of every person and he may not publish news about someone's private life, unless they are transparent and relevant to the public interest, however, he must always make known his own identity and profession when he gathers such news.

The names of the relatives of people involved in such daily events cannot be published unless they are relevant public's interest; they can be neither made known in case of danger to people's safety, nor can they publish other elements, that can expose people's identity (photos, images).

The names of victims of sexual violence can be neither published, nor can a journalist give details that can lead to their identification unless it is required by the victims themselves for relevant general interest.

A journalist has to proceed with great caution when publishing names or elements that can lead to the identification of members of a legal team or of the police, when they ma provoke the risk of incolumnity for themselves or their families.

Rectification and reply

A journalist respects the inviolable right to the rectification of incorrect news or news that are wrongly considered prejudical to people's interests.

A journalist makes rectification, therefore, with timeliness and appropriate emphasis, also in case of a lack of a specific requirement of all news that, after their wide diffusion (spreading), seem to be incorrect or erroneous, especially when the mistakes can damage people, organizations, categories, associations and communities.

If a journalist accuses people, he may not spread news damaging a person's reputation or a person's dignity without giving the opportunity of reply to the accused people. If this is impossible (because the person cannot be found or declines reply) he has to inform the readers and the public. In any case, before publishing a piece of news concerning the pronouncements, he has to control if the charged person is aware of it.

Presumption of innocence

In all legal processes and investigations, a journalist has always to remember that every person accused of an offence is innocent until the final judgement. He may not spread news in order to present him as a guilty person when he has not been judged guilty in such a legal process.

A journalist may not publish images that present deliberately or artificially as offenders people who have not been judged guilty in a legal proceedings.

In case of the accused's acquittal a journalist has always to give an appropriate journalistic emphasis to the piece of news, also referring to all news and articles previously published.

Sources

A journalist has to observe the maximum caution in spreading news, names and images of accused people for minor offences leading to mild punishments, except in cases of particular social interest.

A journalist must check all information obtained by his sources, he must accept responsibility for and control the origins of what he says, he must always safeguard the substantial truth of facts.

In cases in which the sources require secrecy, a journalist has to respect the professional secrecy and has to be able to inform the reader of such circumstance.

In any other case a journalist must always respect the principle of more transparency of the sources of information, giving the readers or the audience the maximum possible attention to them. The fulfilment of an obligation to the quotation of a source is particularly important when a journalist uses a piece of news from a press agency or from any other source of information, unless the piece of news is not correct or widely spread with own means, or unless it is modified regarding the meaning and the content.

In all other cases a journalist accept conditioning derived from the sources for the publication or the abolition of a piece of information.

Information and advertising

All people have the right to receive correct information, always distinct from an advertising message and not prejudicial to anyone's interests. The advertising message must always be distinct from journalistic documents through clear indications.

A journalist has to observe all principles signed in the Protocol's Agreement on Transparency of Information and of the national Italian journalists' work contract (CNLG); he has to make known the advertisement, however, he has to enable people to recognize journalistic work from promotional message.

Incompatibility

A journalist cannot in any case use economic or financial information that he knows for his personal benefit, he cannot disturb moreover the state of the stock market, spreading news and events that are to his own advantage.

A journalist may not write articles or news concerning actions in which the trend of the market has a direct or indirect financial interest, he cannot sell or buy stock in which he is professionally involved or is going to be concerned with in a short time.

A journalist refuses payments, renumerations, donations, free holidays, work trips, pleasure trips, facilities, that can make his job dependant and his actions or damage his credibility and professional dignity.

A journalist can neither accept tasks and responsibility contrary to the autonomous discharge of his own duties, nor lend his name, voice or image for advertising purposes incompatible with the safeguarding of professional journalists' autonomy.

However the same services are allowed free of charge for advertising enterprises, for social, humanitarian, cultural, religious or artistic purposes, also for a trade union one too, or, however, without speculative character.

Children or weak people

A journalist respects all principles confirmed in the ONU Convention dated 1989 on the right of children and their rules undersigned by the "Treviso Ethic Code" (Carta di Treviso) to protect children, their character and their personality, both as an active protagonist as a victim of a common-law offence and particularly:

a) a journalist does not publish the name or any other element that can lead to the identification of people involved in daily episodes or events;

b) he has to avoid eventual instrumentalizations by all adults that seek to represent and pursue exclusively his own interest;

c) however, he appreciates it if the spreading of the news concerning children contributes effectively to the interest of the minor himself.

A journalist protects the rights and dignity of people with mental or physical handicap according to what is confirmed by the Treviso Ethic Code (Carta di treviso) about children.

A journalist protects the rights of invalids avoiding sensational publication of news on medical arguments that may cause fear and groundless hopes.

a) He does not spread news that are not controlled through important scientific sources

b) He does not quote the names of commercial drugs and products to favour the product.

c) He promptly disseminates the commercial names of pharmaceutical products that are withdrawn or suspended from circulation because they are injurious to people's health.

A journalist pledges, however, to have the maximum respect towards the subjects of daily life that for social, economic or cultural reasons have minor instruments of self protection.