Code of ethics
Code of Ethics of Serbian journalists
UNS and NUNS adoptthis Code of Ethics as an ethical standard of the professional conduct for journalists. The duty of journalists is to follow the professional and ethical principles contained in the Code of Ethics, and to resist pressures to violate them.
The Code of Ethics recommends solidarity with colleagues when the standards of professional conduct for journalists are threatened.
Both editors and publishers are responsible for implementation of this Code of Ethics.
I Truthfulness in Reporting
- The duty of journalists is to provide accurate, objective, complete and timely reports about the events of public interest, respecting the public’s right to know the truth and adhering to the basic standards of the journalistic profession.
- It is the right of media to have different editorial concepts, but journalists and editors have a duty to make a clear distinction between the facts that they are reporting, comments, assumptions and speculation.
- A journalist is obliged to indicate the source of reported information. If the source does not wish to be revealed, journalists and editors act with due professional care and stand behind the information with their professional authority and are responsible for its accuracy.
- A journalist is obliged, when necessary, to consult with as many sources as possible and enable them to present their opinion.
- Publication of unfounded accusations, slander, rumours, fabricated letters or letters whose author is not known or their identity cannot be verified is incompatible with journalism.
II Independence from Pressures
- A journalist should resist any pressure exerted on their professional freedom, as well as any form of censorship. They receive their assignments only from a competent editor. A journalist should not delay publishing important information, unless due to necessary checks for accuracy.
- Economic and political interests of a publisher shall not influence the editorial policy in a manner that would result in inaccurate, biased, incomplete and untimely information presented to the public.
- A journalist cannot be forced to express opinions that are contrary to his
III Prevention of Corruption and Conflicts of Interest
- A journalist shall not receive or ask for the material or any other benefit
for collecting, publishing, postponing or preventing collection and publication of information.
- They are obliged to refuse a gift if it can be reasonably assumed that the gift is connected with the practice of their profession and that it could affect the objectivity of their work. A journalist is obliged to report to the editorial office any offering or refusal of a gift, in connection with carrying out the journalistic duties.
- If an individual or an organisation has paid travel expenses for a journalist/editor/editorial office, they are obliged to state that fact in their article or report.
- Journalists do not report on topics where they have private (individual or group) interest.
- A journalist should do everything to avoid situations that may lead to conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and that could lead them to compromise their reputation or that of the profession. Journalists who are not able to avoid a conflict of interest are obliged to immediately notify their editor.
- Incompatible with the journalist profession is working in PR and marketing agencies, lobby agencies, government bodies and institutions, as well as political parties.
- A journalist shall not be in any kind of working relationship with subjects whose activities they cover.
IV Responsibility of Journalists
- The journalist is accountable primarily to his readers, listeners and viewers. This accountability should not be subordinate to the interests of others, particularly the interests of publishers, government and other state
authorities. Journalists shall oppose all those who violate human rights or who advocate any kind of discrimination, hate speech or incitement to violence.
- Forgery of documents and plagiarism are unacceptable and are considered a serious violation of the standards of professional conduct of journalists.
- A journalist is obliged to respect the rule of presumption of innocence, and should not accuse anyone of guilt before declaration of the court judgement.
- Journalists are forbidden to use inappropriate, disturbing, and pornographic and all other contents that can have harmful effects on children.
- A journalist is obliged to respect and protect the rights and dignity of children, victims of crime, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.
- A journalist fosters the culture and ethics of speech, respects the right of reply, apology and correction, and is obliged to publish a timely and appropriate correction.
- A journalist/editor shall not agree to promote, in any type of journalistic format, any kind of commercial advertising or political propaganda. They shall not put their signature on any type of commercial advertising or political propaganda.
V Journalistic Diligence
- A journalist is obliged to approach his work with due professional care.
- A journalist shall not blindly trust a source of information. They should take into account that the information sources often follow their own interests or the interests of social groups that they belong to and adjust their statements to those interests.
- Failure to disclose facts that could significantly affect public opinion about an event is the same as deliberately distorting or misrepresenting them.
- A journalist must be aware of the danger of discrimination that can be spread by media and shall do everything to avoid discrimination based,
among other things, on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origins.
VI Relation towards Sources of Information
- A journalist has the right to investigate all circumstances and facts about events that are of interest to the public.
- In gathering information, the journalist shall not resort to extortion, threats or stalking a source of information.
- A journalist is obliged to respect the request for anonymity of a source of information. Inventing anonymous sources is a serious violation of the standards of professional conduct for journalists.
- A journalist is obliged to introduce himself/herself to a source of information and to state which media he is working for at that time, unless it is in the public’s best interest not do so and when it appears in accordance with the rules prescribed in this Code of Ethics.
- At the editor’s request, a journalist can disclose the identity of a source of information who wishes to remain anonymous, and the editor is obliged to protect anonymity of the source.
- As a rule, minors can only be interviewed in presence of or with consent of their parents or guardians.
- A journalist should never abuse other people’s emotions, their ignorance or their ability to reason.
- A journalist shall not incite unwarranted fear among people nor inspire false hope.
VII Respect for Privacy
- A journalist respects privacy, dignity and integrity of the people he writes about. The right to privacy is restricted when it comes to public figures and especially those in public office.
- Journalists and editors should particularly avoid speculations and reporting opinions which have not been adequately verified, when reporting on disasters and tragedies involving victims, or where the material and other interests of citizens have been severely affected.
- When reporting on events that involve personal grief and shock, journalists are obliged to adapt their questions in a way which reflects
the spirit of compassion and discretion.
- A journalist is obliged to ensure that a child shall not be endangered or exposed to risk due to publication of his/her name, photograph or footage with his/her image, house, community in which he/she lives and recognisable surroundings.
VIII Use of Ethical Means
- In collecting information, photographs, documents, audio and video footage, a journalist shall only use the ethical means.
- A journalist should not continue to pose questions, telephone, photograph or record a private individual once he has been asked to stop.
- Pressure on a private individual to answer a question may be pursued after his/her rejection only if there is an established public interest.
- Journalists have the right to continuously pose questions to the government and other institutions which they deem to be of the public interest, regardless whether they have been asked to stop or not.
IX Respect for Authorship
1. Media and journalists respect and apply the current legislation on copyright protection. When permission for reproducing the material is granted from another source, credit is given to the author and the source is cited.
2. A journalist shall not sign as his own the texts, drawings, illustrations, photographs, video and audio footage that are from other authors.
3. A journalist shall refuse to sign a text, photograph, drawing, illustration, audio or video footage:
- When the editor, proof reader or someone else has intervened and changed the meaning, and if such changes are contrary to the opinions and beliefs of the journalist.
- In the case where the journalist has a legitimate interest (personal safety etc.)
4. The editor is obliged to acknowledge the journalist’s request not to sign a text, photograph, drawing, illustration, audio or video footage if the journalist believes this would jeopardize his/her safety.
5. Archive audio and video footage shall be appropriately labelled.
X Protection of Journalists
- Journalists who adhere to this Code of Ethics enjoy support and protection of their professional association.
- A journalist who adheres to the professional and ethical standards is entitled to the legal and financial support in the protection against violence, threats, insults and other negative consequences as a result of carrying out the journalistic work.
- Anyone who believes that a journalist has violated any of the instructions in this Code of Ethics may contact the Ethics Committee or the Media Council.
( The Code of Ethics was adopted at the UNS Assembly Election on the 11th of May 2013 and at the NUNS Annual General Meeting on the 16th of June 2012 )