Denmark – Code of Conduct (1992)

A legal Code of Conduct, adopted by the Danish Parliament with the acceptance of the National Union of Journalists in 1992.

The safeguarding of the freedom of speech in Denmark is closely connected with the free access of the press to collect information and news and to publish them as correctly as possible. Free comment is part of the exercise of the freedom of speech. In attending to these tasks the press recognizes that the individual citizen is entitled to respect for his personal integrity and the sanctity of his private life and the need for protection against unjustified violations.

Breach of good press practice comprises the withholding of rightful publication of information of essential importance to the public and compliance towards outsiders if this compliance can lead to doubts as to the freedom and independence of the mass media. It is also considered to be breach of good press practice if tasks that are in conflict with these rules are placed upon a journalist.

A journalist ought not to be placed on tasks that are contrary to his conscience or convictions.

The rules cover all editorial materials (text and picture) published in the written periodical press, in radio, television and remaining mass media.

The rules also cover advertisements and publicity in the written periodical press, in radio, in television and remaining mass media. The rules also cover advertisements and publicity in the written periodical press and the rest of the mass media to the extent that no special rules have been established.

The rules cover persons mentioned and depicted, including deceased persons, and also corporations and similar associations

1. It is the duty of the press to print correct and prompt information. As far as possible it should be checked whether the information is correct.

2. The sources of news should be treated critically, in particular when such statements may be coloured by personal interest or tortuous intention.

3. Information which may be prejudicial or insulting to somebody or detract from other persons’ opinion of the person concerned shall be very closely checked.

4. Attacks and replies should, in cases in which doing so is reasonable, be published consecutively and in the same way.

5. It shall be made clear what is factual information and what is comment.

6. Headlines and intermediate headlines shall as regards form and substance be substantiated by the article or publication in question. The same rule shall apply to the so-called contents bills.

7. Incorrect information shall be corrected on the editor’s own initiative if and as soon as knowledge of errors of importance in the published information is received. The correction shall be given such as a form that the readers are given an easy possiblility of noticing the correction.

1. Information which may violate the sanctity of private life shall be avoided unless an obvious interest requires press coverage. The individual man is entitled to the protection of his personal reputation.

2. Suicides or attempted suicides should not be mentioned unless an obvious public interest requires or justifies press coverage, and in such a case the mention should be as considerate as possible.

3. Victims of crimes or accidents should be paid the greatest possible regard. The same rule applies to witnesses and the relatives of the persons concerned. Collection and reproduction of pictorial material shall be made in a considerate and tactful way.

4. There should be kept a clear dividing line between advertising and editorial text. Text and pictures occasioned by direct or indirect mercantile interests should be brought only if a clear journalistic criterion calls for publication.

5. Other people’s confidence must not be abused. Special regard should be paid to persons who cannot be expected to realize the effects of their statements. Other people’s feelings, ignorance, or failing self-control, should not be abused.

1. The general ethical rules for journalists mentioned under A and B should also apply to court reporting.

2. The rules for court reporting shall also apply to the preparatory steps of a lawsuit or a trial, including the preparation of criminal bases by the police and the prosecution.

3. Court reporting should be objective. At any stage of the preparation of lawsuits and trials and suring the hearing by the court, the journalist should aim at a qualitatively equal representation of the points of view of the parties – in criminal cases the points of view of the counsel for the prosecution and the counsel for the defence, respectively. A mention of a criminal case should be followed up by an account of the end of the case, whether this takes place in the form of a withdrawal of the charge, acquittal, or conviction.

4. The mention of persons’ family history, occupation, race, nationality, creed, or membership of organisations shoud be avoided unless this has something directly to do with the case.

5. As long as a criminal case has not been finally decided or the charge has not been withdrawn, no information must be published which may obstruct the clearing up of the case, nor must pronouncements to the effect that a suspect or an accused is guilty be published. When a criminal case is mentioned, it shall clearly appear from the report whether the suspect / accused has declared himself guilty or not guilty.

6. To the widest possible extent a clear objective line shall be followed in deciding which cases shall be mentioned and in which cases the names of the persons involved shall be mentioned. A suspect’s or an accused’s name or other identification should be omitted if no public interest calls for the publication of the name.

7. Caution should be exercised in publishing statements to the effect that the police have been informed about a crime committed by a person mentioned by name. Such information should as a rule not be published, until the information to the police has resulted in the intervention of the police or the prosecution. This rule shall not apply. however, if the conduct which the police have been informed about is beforehand known in wide circles or is of considerable public interest, or it on the existing basis it must be assumed that the information to the police is solidly substantiated.

8. A suspect, accused, or convicted person shall be spared from having attention called to an earlier conviction if it is without importance in relation to the facts which he is suspected of, charged with, or convicted of. In connection with other news, the earlier criminal cases against a named person should, as a rule, not be mentioned.

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