Code of Ethics of the Chilean Order of Journalists (1999).
Ethical journalism is the theoretical definition and practical application, both of which are permanent and obligatory, of rules of conduct and of procedure, set down in the present Code, which all members of the profession must observe so that their professional actions are correct and socially useful.
The social responsibility inherent in their work increases the necessity that journalists comply with general and specific ethical guidelines and that they count on their own necessary judgement to ensure its fulfilment.
Journalists and the press are important social entities. They have decisive influence on the formation of values, beliefs, habits, opinion and conduct in every social sector.
Vital access to accurate, reliable, appropriate and lasting information, which is fundamentally free from any form of censorship, relates to individual and collective rights, which has an effect on the maintenance and elevation of dignity and the quality of life of the nation. This, in addition, allows all sections of society to be informed, make choices and participate in the actions and decisions of the nation.
Any mistake due to lack of linguistic knowledge or through lack of prior knowledge of the subject or topic which makes itself professionally widespread can create offence, prejudice or detriment to people or social sectors.
In their position of influence over public opinion, journalists and the press have a responsibility to accurately inform the public of facts, opinions and actions and consequences of the leading social figures. That is taken to mean that journalists and the press must take the role of mediators between reality and the receivers of the message they deliver.
Basic principles for journalists
1. Journalists are at the service of truth, democratic principles and human rights. In their professional task, journalists will abide by the principle of truth, understood as factual accuracy. The practice of journalism will not promote or leave room for discrimination on the grounds of ideology, religion, class, race, sex, disability, or of any other type which causes offence or detriment to people or any organisation.
2. The journalist will only release information which can be verified, whether this is through a direct form of verification or through distinct sources which are reliable in themselves. A source is considered reliable by their knowledge and experience in the subject and/or their independence in respect to detached interests with the objective of exposing the truth.
3. Journalists must refer to all legal means within their reach in order to avoid applying or suggesting regulations which diminish, annul or create difficulty for the exercise of freedom of expression and information. In the case of existing laws or regulations already in force which promote this, they must work in favour of their abolition.
4. Professionals will fight so that directors, editors and other employees of daily newspapers, magazines, news agencies, television and radio stations and all other forms of the media are qualified journalists. In addition, professionals will advocate greater means for journalists to partake in decisions regarding informative politics in the media or other means of information sharing.
5. The right to inform will be exercised with protection in regard to all considerations and ethical rules established by this Code and, as a consequence, will never be used to the detriment of the public.
6. No journalist will be able to invoke or make use of laws which damage freedom of expression and information, not even on the pretext of doing it away from the professional sphere.
7. Journalists must always make a distinction between fact, opinion and interpretation, avoiding all confusion or deliberate distortion.
8. Journalists will not resort to subterfuge, like using false identities, cameras or hidden microphones, to obtain informa-tion.
9. Journalists must cite their sources since readers have the right to know them and thereby evaluate their reliability for themselves. They should only keep them anonymous if the sources specifically request this – as long as previous confirmation of their suitability and trustworthiness has been established.
10. Journalists who have promised to keep facts, information or opinion off the record must not pass on such information, whether publicly or privately. This means that they cannot share information with anybody else who could divulge it.
11. Journalists must not publish any information under embargo prior to the pre-determined date and time.
Journalists and their peers
12. Journalists must be actively supportive to colleagues who suffer persecution or aggression by virtue of their professional enterprise, in the same way as to those who are tried by legal regulations that the Order regards as damaging to freedom of expression.
13. Journalists are especially forbidden from denigrating other journalists, personally or professionally.
14. If a journalist has founded objections or doubts as to the ethics of a colleague, he/she must make these clear to national or regional authorities in the Order so that they can review the case in accordance with existing procedures. All publicity surrounding the case, before a decision has been reached, will be considered inadmissible.
15. Journalists must avoid all negative expression or allusion to law-making sections of the Institution. In the case of dissension with the agreements imposed by the National Council or any other authority, this should be an internal matter.
16. Journalists will have to look after the development and accomplishment of the objectives and tasks which make journalism and journalists dignified.
17. Journalists must work together and fight for the strengthening of the profession.
18. Journalists will recognise the ethical power that the Order exercises over their actions as representatives of the profession.
Journalists and the press
19. Graphic material and headlines must always match up with the texts that they correspond with in such a way that the reader, viewer or listener is not confused or tricked.
20. Journalists cannot use computers or other modern com-munication devices to make substantial or fraudulent changes to the journalistic material content of a colleague without the express authorisation of the author, especially if it carries his/her signature.
21. No journalist can use his/her profession to push commercial messages in the columns or programmes that he/she is in charge of. All publicity must be clearly marked as advertising. No journalist may use the means of communication in which they work to promote messages that could create a conflict of interests.
22. Directors, editors and other employees of daily newspapers, magazines, news agencies, television and radio stations and all other forms of the media commit ethical misdemeanours when they contract or allow people to work in journalism who are not qualified or who encourage other journalists to contravene this Code of Ethics.
23. Journalists shall fight to re-establish the legal right of the profession to set professional rates and, once this has been achieved, will look out for its strict observance by companies, entities or those at the forefront of the means of social com-munication.
24. In their professional lives, journalists must always act in line with their consciences and not be admonished for doing so. Consequently, they should fight for the establishment of a clause of conscience in relation to press companies. Once this objective is achieved, they should look out for its strict ob-servance by companies, entities or those at the forefront of the means of social communication.
25. Journalists will reject and denounce any pressure formu-lated to make them transgress this Code.
26. Journalists should promote the participation of the public in the press and especially guarantee the legal right to reply and the publishing of corrections in legal time and without editorial selection, even when an express petition on behalf of the affected doesn’t exist.
27. Violations of professional ethics consist of:
– Participation in the violation of human rights.
– The denunciation of a pursued person whom they have gained access to through their professional dealings.
– Premeditated wrongful information.
– The dictation and application of rules of censorship by journalists who exercise high-ranking tasks. On being pressurised to do this, the Order will be obliged to give them full support in defence of their rights and the prac-tice of this Code.
– Bribery and extortion.
– Plagiarism and lack of respect for intellectual property.
– Defamation, slander and libel.
” Using pictures of people which commit a crime against their human dignity and turn them into commercial objects.
” Contravening any of the rules and recommendations contained in this Code.
28. Journalists must maintain an unquestionable respect for the dignity and private lives of people and avoid invading their privacy by using the opportunities that are afforded by new technology. In this matter, they will be led by the definitions and stipulations set by Chilean legislation and the international community. The exception to this rule will only be when the publication of private acts is needed by the public or when the protection of privacy violates the right to physical or psychological well-being or some other individual right. In particular, they will respect the privacy of those in situations of grief and shock, avoiding speculation and gratuitous interference in their feelings and circumstances.
29. Journalists must safeguard the presumption of innocence of those accused by the State while the trial continues and no sentence has yet been passed. In addition, they will abstain from identifying victims, witnesses and accused without their consent, especially in relation to sexual offences, whatever their social background and in particular in cases of children under the age of consent. In addition, they will avoid identify-ing, against their will, people related such as parents, friends or neighbours of those accused or convicted by law.
30. Journalists must help to make public opinion aware of the situation of those in the most vulnerable section of society. In addition, they will work for the protection of nature collectively and denounce the acts which generate contamination and environmental destruction in all places.
31. Journalists will only receive prizes or journalistic honours in relation to their professional competence and when they are distinguished by the direct or indirect participation of the Order of Journalists.
32. Journalists must not use their professional influence nor the privileged information they receive as part of their job to benefit themselves directly, nor their families and friends. They will also not accept payments or rewards from people, companies or institutions, since that would limit their freedom to be objective on issues close to them.
33. Journalists who work in advertising agencies, in marketing departments of the press or in whatever company, service or institution linked to social communications must abide by the regulations in this Code.