International – Code of Practice of Caribbean Journalists (2002)

Code of Practice of Caribbean Journalists, drafted in 2002 in view of the creation of the Eastern Caribbean Press Council in January 2003.

All members of the Press have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. This code sets the benchmarks for those standards. It protects the rights of the individual and upholds the public’s right to know. The code is the cornerstone of the system of self-regulation to which the industry is committed.

It is essential to the workings of an agreed code that it be honoured not only to the letter, but in the full spirit. The code should not be interpreted so narrowly as to compromise its commitment to respect the rights of the individual, nor so broadly that it prevents publication in the public interest.

We Caribbean journalists believe in the fundamental rights of freedom.

We Caribbean journalists:
– Believe that the agencies of mass communication are carriers of public discussion and information, acting on the right of freedom of expression and right to access information.
– Believe those rights carry obligations that require journalists to perform with intelligence, objectivity, accuracy and fairness.

To these ends, we declare acceptance of the standards of practice here set forth:
1. Editors and publishers pledge to prevent violations of these standards, and to encourage their observance by all news people.

2. Editors and publishers will ensure that the code is ob-served rigorously, not only by their staff, but also by any-one who contributes to their publications.

3. Editors and publishers agree to cooperate as swiftly as possible with press councils where they exist, in the reso-lution of complaints.

4. Newspapers and other publications which are criticized in the findings of a press council agree to print promptly in full and with due prominence, the council’s adjudication.

Journalists shall not:
– Interview or photograph children under the age of 16 on subjects involving his or her welfare or any other child in the absence of or without the consent of the parent or guardian – unless it is demonstrably in the child’s or the public interest.
– Report on the private life of a child based solely on the family’s notoriety or status of his or her parents or guardians.

Journalists shall:
– When carrying out enquiries in cases involving grief or shock make approaches with empathy and discretion.

Journalists shall not:
– Carry out intrusions and enquiries into an individual’s private life without his or her consent, including the use of long lens photography to take pictures of people on private property without their consent. Such is not generally acceptable and publication can only be justified when in the public interest.

Listening devices
Journalists shall not:
– Obtain material by using clandestine devices, or publish such material unless justified by public interest.

Journalists shall not:
– Identify victims of sexual assault or their family or public material likely to lead to such identification unless there is adequate justification even though by law they may be free to do so.

Journalists sall:
– Include all relevant facts and avoid rumour and unsubstanti-ated statements in the interest of accuracy and fairness.

Wherever it is recognized that a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report has been published, it should be corrected promptly and with due prominence.

Journalists shall:
– Be free from bias and distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
– Present accurate information and not publish altered images without informing the public.

Journalists shall:
– Make every effort to publish all the main points of view or interpretations of an event or issue, regardless of whether or not they agree with such views.

Journalists and newspapers:
Have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information. Care must be taken in the selection of sources and information presented must be thoroughly verified.

Journalists shall:
– Avoid identifying relatives of persons convicted of crime without their consent unless properly justified.
– Avoid reporting details prejudicial to a person’s race, religion, gender, colour, sexual orientation, nationality or any physical or mental illness or disability unless deemed pertinent to the story.

Journalists shall not:
– Obtain or seek to obtain pictures or information through harassment or intimidation.

Journalists shall not:
– Accept monetary offers, gifts or favours from any source seeking to influence publication or non-publication; or special placement of any article or photograph.
– Engage in making monetary offers to obtain information for publication – except where in the judgement of the editor, the material concerned ought be published in the public interest.

Conflict of interest
Journalists shall:
– Not be involved in any association or activity such as politics, demonstrations, secondary employment or social causes which could be perceived to be a conflict or interest or is in fact a conflict of interest.

Professional relations
Journalists and publishers shall not:
– Be engaged in undermining colleagues and/or the media house by divulging information that is privy to the media house.
– Use for their profit, financial information they received in advance of its general publication, nor should they pass such information to others.
– Buy or sell either directly or through others, shares or securities about which they intend to have published.

Right of reply
– A fair and timely opportunity shall be given to individuals or organizations, to reply to inaccuracies.

Public interest
For the purpose of definition Public Interest includes; but is not limited to:
– Detecting or exposing crime or serious misdemeanours.
– Protecting public health and safety.
– Preventing the public from being misled by statements or actions of public officials, Government, political parties or any other organizations.

In any cases raising issues beyond these three definitions, the Eastern Caribbean Press Council will require a full explanation by the editor of the publication involved, seeking to demonstrate how the public interest was served.

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