Czech Republic – Union of Publishers (2000)

Press Code of Practice, approved by the general meeting of the Union of Publishers on 5 September 2000.

The Press Code of Practice of the Union of Publishers is the base of the system of self regulation in the industry of periodical press publishing in the Czech Republic.

These publicity principles serve for the preservation of professional ethics and are not rules, which set forth legal responsibility. Publishers and journalists must ensure, that these principles are adhered to materially and in accordance to the meaning of individual provisions, infringement of the principles, their interpretation and any adjustments to the Press Code of Practice are solved and ensured by the Czech Press Council, which is an individual body of the Union of Publishers.

It is in compliance with ethics to respect the decisions of the Czech Press Council and to disclose its decisions.

1. Freedom of press, its role and public interest
2. Truthfulness and accuracy
3. Protection of personality
4. Protection of privacy
5. Presumption of innocence
6. Influence
7. Children

1. Freedom of press, its role and public interest
1.1. Freedom of press includes independence and freedom of information and possibility to express opinions and criticism.
1.2. The boundaries of the freedom of press are the rights and freedom of citizens and third parties and self regulatory principles according to the provisions of the press Code of Practice.
1.3. The role of the press is to release not only positive, favourable or socially neutral information or ideas, but also such information resulting in anxiety, calling for discussion or evoking controversial opinions or shock. But even in such cases the used expression media must not be self-purposeful, offensive or vulgar.
1.4. Public interest in the meaning of the principles of the press Code of Practice is deemed in events, that call for explanation of a criminal act, protection of public safety, morale or health or to prevent the public being led in error.

2. Truthfulness and accuracy
2.1. Seeking the truth, conscientious obtaining and processing of information, giving truthful and correct information to the public including writing commentaries and exact reproduction of other people’s intimations and documents and preservation of human dignity are the highest values respected by the press.
2.2. Truthfulness of information, designed for disclosure in the press, must be verified with proper professional care to an extent that is justifiable to request in tactful circumstances. When acquiring information unfair methods must not be used.
2.3. The truthfulness of information must not be misrepresented by incompleteness, processing, mutilation, falsification, by accompanying photographs or other pictures or by their description.
2.4. The disclosure of unconfirmed news and accusations, especially of an offensive manner is not in compliance with ethics. If, exceptionally, for some serious reasons unconfirmed information or assumptions are disclosed they must be indicated as such and it must be apparent from them that they are such.
2.5. Third party intimations must be stated or truly interpreted and must as such be indicated. Third party intimations in quotation marks must correspond exactly with the utterance of the source, interpretation of other people’s intimations must not be in quotation marks, in both cases the meaning of third party intimations must be preserved. Assumed quotations as well as own quotations using third party information, must disclose the original source.
2.6. Accompanying photographs used for illustration or other pictures must be indicated as such and it must be apparent from them that they are such.
2.7. If released information is later proved to be untruthful, not complete or otherwise misleading the truth, it is a matter of ethics to reasonably correct the information without delay of one’s own accord or to put the matter right.
2.8. If, in a matter previously discussed in the press, new significant information becomes known, it is a matter of ethics for reasonable information to be given of one’s own accord.
2.9. When releasing information about professional, especially medical matters, it is necessary to avoid inadequate interpretation that could lead the readers to unreasonable anxiety or expectations.

3. Protection of personality
Any kind of discrimination or offence due to sex, race, colour of skin, language, faith or religion, political or other views, national or social origin, pertinence to a national or ethnic minority, property, kind or other position is not in accordance with ethics

4. Protection of privacy
4.1. The press respects privacy including the intimate sphere.
4.2. If the privacy of a certain person touches public interest, and this person due to its social activity or position has become a person of public interest, the privacy of such a person may be, in individual cases, discussed in the press. Nevertheless it is necessary to observe, that personality rights of other people are not infringed.
4.3. Special protection must be given to victims of criminal acts and accidents. Respect for the victims and their relatives has priority before release of identifying information or photographs.

5. Presumption of innocence
News about a hearing taking place in court or another state body or body of public administration must be related without any prejudice. Therefore the press, before commencement or during such proceedings, avoids releasing any prejudiced standpoints. The press must be aware of the fact, that only the court can decide about the guilt and punishment of criminal acts. Every person, against whom criminal proceedings are held must be looked upon, even by the press, as innocent, till the court passes judgement at law or by some other decision of a governmental body or body of public administration he has been found guilty.

6. Influencing
6.1. Responsibility towards the public requires. That the press is not influenced by private or commercial interests. The press must stand up against such attempts and must always pay attention to strict differentiation between editorial texts and disclosure for the purpose of advertising or other publicity.
6.2. Accepting or providing any kind of benefit, that could influence the decision about the contents or form of the press, does not comply with the independence of the press and its role in society. Accepting any kind of benefit for the purpose of influencing the spreading or not spreading of any kind of information is not in accordance with ethics.

7. Children
7.1. Protection of the privacy of children has priority over the value of the information. When reporting the press must always have consideration for the interests of children and teenagers.
7.2. Reports on offenses of teenagers must not make it more difficult or prevent their possible return to society.

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