International – Latin American Centre of Journalism (1993)

Code of Ethics of the Latin American Centre of Journalism, adopted in New Orleans, 12 June 1993.

Conscious that the principal function of journalism is the search for and dissemination of the truth about matters of public interest and the defence of essential values of human beings; and that this task can only be accomplished where there is independence, the application of high ethical values and the most rigorous use of journalism, the Central American media have decided to adopt the following DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES regarding the practice of our profession.

Our autonomy is an indispensable requirement in exercising journalism in a way that conforms to the fundamental principles of the profession; it is also the only way to respond to the public about our actions. Only independent media can assume the responsibility for their actions.

To accomplish this responsibility, we pledge to:
a) Reject all forms of coercion by public authorities regarding freedom of expression and the pursuit and diffusion of news and opinions.
b) Maintain the same attitude with respect to pressures from other sectors or individuals.
c) Act for the good of the public in the pursuit of information and do everything possible to satisfy the public’s right to be informed about topics of social interest.

Media owners, directors, journalists, and administrators may not personally benefit, other than when it is legally implicated by their business or professional functions, from the social influence that is granted them by their access to right to decision on the journalistic content of the media.

With the goal of maintaining their independence with regard to matters of public interest, people who have influential power in the media must immediately resign from their positions when they accept positions of political responsibility, or any other type of activity that might affect the independence of the media.

The media must act in good faith and make an effort to maintain the equilibrium of the news, be equivocal in their treatment of people and institutions, create opportunities for the different players in polemic debates to express themselves, and always strive for the utmost accuracy of the news.

Without renouncing our autonomy of decision and the right to independent and definitive political editorials, we accept that part of our mission in the search for the truth is to do the impossible, because in the media diverse points of view are expressed.

The media have the duty to establish the difference between informative material, editorial material, and commercial or commercial material. The boundary between diverse types of content should be clearly perceptible to the public.

Informative and editorial decisions should not be affected by advertising pressures or criteria, and journalists must not participate in any writing of advertisements or promotional material.

Conflicts of interest should be avoided at all costs. Therefore, all media should assume the costs of covering the news; they will only share those costs with sources in exceptional cases, as long as these circumstances do not implicate a change in the editorial position, and as long as it is made explicit to the public.

Reporters may not participate in other lucrative activities that diminish their integrity or independence. Any exception must be previously authorized by the reporter’s supervisors.

We recognize that the authority to require this of the journalist is based on adequate remuneration and in the development and maintenance of adequate working conditions. To accomplish this, it is necessary to promote personnel’s technical, professional, and ethical advancement.

We must be precise in presenting the news. When errors are committed, they must be promptly rectified. The acceptance of retorts and corrections depend in large part on their prestige and credibility.

In the search for information, journalists will accomplish their tasks of investigation and selection while adhering to professional and ethical guidelines, and avoid the use of improper methods. They should identify themselves as journalists, except when anonymity is the only way to obtain crucial information. When reporting, they must also identify their sources, and only in special circumstances will they maintain the anonymity of their sources; in these cases, the decision to preserve anonymity must be explained to the public and sufficient elements to verify the content of the declarations or versions offered by the source will be obtained.

For the private acts of public figures and actions of public relevance by private figures to be considered news items, they must legitimately be of public interest.

The language of journalism, in any of its forms, should exclude obscenity, vulgarity, morbidity, and the use elements that feed prejudices and stimulate or strengthen any form of discrimination.

The media are responsible for the truth of the news. Even if they are not responsible with respect to commercial announcements, they should avoid that these induce deception or obviously do not express the truth.

Financial independence is an instrument to strengthen journalistic independence. Therefore, the media must not obtain privileges or favoritism from public or private authorities, must fight discrimination, and strive for efficient and transparent management of finances and business.

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