In 2000, the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association, the News Executives Association, the Hong Kong Federation of Journalists and the Press Photographers Association released this code, backed by 18 out of 27 print and electronic media groups.
We believe that freedom of speech is a basic human right.
We believe that freedom of the press, guaranteed under the Basic Law, is an integral part of freedom of speech.
We believe that journalists should strive to uphold freedom of the press and take public interest as the basis of their work.
We believe that journalists should uphold the principle of truth, objectivity and fairness.
We believe that owners and executives of media organisations have the responsibility to encourage and require staff to adhere to these principles.
Code of Ethics
1. Journalists should handle news information with an attitude of seeking truth, fairness, objectivity, impartiality and comprehensiveness. Journalists should strive to ensure accuracy of their reports. They should not mislead the public by quoting out of context, distorting facts or twisting original meaning.
2. Whenever there are inaccuracy, misleading facts or figures, or distortion of original meaning, media organisations should provide persons or organisations affected with the earliest opportunity to rebut. Correction should be made promptly.
3. Journalists should not pander to prurience, indecency and sensationalism when reporting news, especially when it invol-ving violence, sex-related crime or suicide.
4. Journalists should respect the reputation and privacy of individuals. Taking into account public interest, journalists should report on the private lives of individuals – who have not given their consent for doing so – only in ways that would not exacerbate unnecessary additional damages to the individuals.
4.1. Privacy of children should be handle especially with great care. Media organisations should have full grounds when reporting the contents about private lives of children. Journalist should not disclose the privacy of children purely because of the social or political status of the minors’ family or guardians.
4.2. Journalists should have full grounds reporting the behaviour and personal data of public figures.
4.3. The behaviour and personal data of public figures that are pertinent to the exercise of their public office are not considered as privacy.
5. Journalists should avoid conflict of interest. Under no circumstance should they be influenced by political, economic and other interests related to themselves, their families and their employers.
5.1. Journalists should not seek monetary or other advantages form information that they have obtained in the course of discharging their duties; nor should they pass the information to others so that they might obtained an advantage.
5.2. Journalists should not distort facts to appease advertisers or any other persons.
5.3. Journalists should not write or comment on business dealings, organization and its activities in which they have a stake. Journalists should declare interest should they be assigned to report and comment on matters in which they have an interest.
5.4. Journalists should not be influenced by external pressure or economics benefit in their reports and commenta-ries.
6. Journalists should not practise censorship based on non-journalist’s considerations.
7. Journalists should obtain information, photographs and illustrations through proper means.
8. Journalists should avoid reporting news which will lead to discriminate on grounds of age, race, colour, creed, disability, marital status, illegitimacy, gender or sexual orientation.
9. Journalists should protect their source of information.
9.1. To avoid misleading the public, journalists should strive not to use the information provided by anonymous sources.
9.2. Journalists should handle with great caution information provided by people who are not willing to publicise their identity.
10. The basis for journalists to uphold freedom of the press, shoulder social responsibility and public trust is the adherence to public interest.
Under specific circumstances related to public interest, journalists may go beyond the terms laid down under the Code. Public interest should include:
10.1. Exposing any unlawful activity, abuse of power, neglect of duty, or other misconduct by an individual or organisation;
10.2. Preventing the public from being misled by statement or action of individuals or organisations;
10.3. Preventing a serious threat to public order, security of Hong Kong, public health and safety.
1. It is the prime duty of photojournalists to report the truth. Photojournalists should take photographs from the actual scene of a news event. They should not participate in designing or masterminding re-enactment of news events for exaggerated and inaccurate reports. Should such re-enactment be necessary to provide better understanding of a news event, it should be clearly labelled as re-enactment.
2. Photojournalists should show concern about the feelings of victims and their families when taking photographs of accidents and their aftermath. Photojournalists should avoid and minimise damage to and impact on the feelings of the victims and their families.
3. Photojournalist should respect the privacy of people being photographed.
4. Photojournalists – including photographers and picture editors – should handle with caution pictures that are gory, violent, disgusting and pornographic. Before using this type of photographs, photojournalists should consider:
4.1. whether they are necessary for news reporting;
4.2. the impact on the society;
4.3. the impact on the people involved and their families.
5. Journalists should process pictures on the basis of the actual scene that they have seen. Any re-processing before and after the pictures are taken are unacceptable.
6. It is a common practice for media organisations to adopt photomontage or use photographs in form of illustrations to provide better understanding of a news event and give effect to editorial design. In order to retain the credibility of the news photographs, media organisations should clearly label such images as “manipulated pictures” or “digitally altered pictures” next to the photographs that have been reprocessed and might give an impression that they are the actual scene.