Algeria – Charter of Personal and Professional Ethics

Charter of Personal and Professional Ethics, adopted by a conference of Algerian journalists and the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), in Algiers on 13 April 2000.

A professional journalist, whatever his status, is someone whose main, regular, paid activity is the exercise of the profession in one or several media, from which he derives the major part of his/her income. The right to information, to free speech and to criticism is one of the fundamental freedoms which participate in the defence of democracy and media pluralism. It is from that right, to learn and to publicise facts and opinions, that all the duties and rights of journalists derive.

The responsibility of a journalist towards the public is more important than any other, especially his/her responsibility towards his/her employer and towards the political authorities. The mission to inform inevitably implies limits which journalists freely enunciate and impose upon themselves. Hence the present declaration of duties. But those professional duties can only be genuinely assumed if all the concrete conditions exist for the independence of the journalist. Hence the declaration of rights that follows. The present charter is neither a law which curbs and represses, nor a code which imposes restrictions: it defines a series of rules of conduct based on principles that are universally accepted. These rules should govern the relationships among journalists and between them and the public. Freely accepted and democratically adopted, these rules should serve as a guide of conduct in the practice of journalism.

A Commission for personal and professional ethics, consisting of working journalists, will see to the respect of those principles.

Declaration of Duties
A journalist regards it as a duty to:

1. Respect truth, whatever the consequences for him/herself, because of the right that the public has of knowing it.

2. Defend the freedom to inform, to express opinions, to comment and to criticise.

3. Separate facts and comments.

4. Respect the private lives of people and their right to control the use of pictures made of themselves.

5. Publish only information that has been checked. Abstain from altering information. Strive to situate the facts reported in their context.

6. Abstain from broadcasting rumours.

7. Correct any publicised information which turns out to be inaccurate.

8. Keep professional secrecy and not reveal his/her sources.

9. To forgo plagiarism, slander, defamation and unfounded accusations.

10. Not to confuse the profession of journalism with that of advertising or propaganda; not to accept any instruction, direct or indirect, from advertisers.

11. Not to accept any editorial instruction except from the heads of the newsroom and only within the limits of the conscience clause.

12. Abstain from praising violence, terrorism, crime, fanaticism, racism, sexism and intolerance, in any form whatever.

13. A journalist worthy of the name, while heeding the laws of the country where he/she is, will only accept, in matters of professional honour, the jurisdiction of his peers, to the exclusion of any interference from government or any other agency.

14. Abstain from drawing any personal benefit from a situation in which his/her quality of journalist, his/her influence or contacts might be exploited.

15. Not seek the position of a colleague, not cause his/her firing or demotion by offering to do the same work for a lower salary.

16. Not confuse his/her mission with that of a judge or a policeman.

17. Respect the presumption of innocence.

18. Not use unfair methods to obtain information, photos or documents.

Declaration of Rights
A journalist is entitled to:

1. a free access to all sources of information and to freely investigate all the facts that impact on public life. He/she can only exceptionally be barred from sources, and for clearly stated motives.

2. The conscience clause (the right to leave a publication or broadcast station if it changes its nature or political orientation – and yet not lose any benefits).

3. Be informed of any major decision likely to affect the life of the company he/she works for.

4. A professional status.

5. Continuous education and professional training as part of his/her job.

6. Social and professional conditions required by the needs of the profession. A personal contract within collective agreements that will guarantee his/her economic security and independence.

7. The acknowledgement, and remuneration, of his rights as an author.

8. Respect for the journalistic product and the shape of its contents.

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