Rules of Professional Ethics of Journalism, authorized by the Israel Press Council at its Plenary Session of 16 May 1996; and amended at its Plenary Sessions of 26 March 1997, 6 September 1999, 13 February 2002, 7 January 2003 and 16 March 2003. (Translated by Dr. Rahel Rimon)
1. “Newspaper” includes electronic means of communication and on-line newspapers and the owners, the publisher and the editor responsible for the communications media. “Journalist” includes the editor. “Person” includes a corporation, an incorporated or unincorporated association and a public body.
Freedom of the press and its professional responsibility
2. A newspaper and a journalist shall be faithful to freedom of the press and to the right of the public to know, in providing the public with a professional service and accurate, fair and responsible reporting of news and opinions.
Integrity and fairness
3.A. A newspaper and a journalist shall act with integrity, fairness and without fear.
B. Where a newspaper or journalist has promised a source that information provided by him or an opinion expressed by him shall not be published, the same shall not be submitted for publication even if it is of public interest.
Loyalty to the truth
4.A. A newspaper or journalist shall not knowingly or negligently publish something which is untrue, inaccurate, misleading or distorted.
B. A newspaper and a journalist shall not refrain from publishing information where there is a public interest in its publication, including for reasons of political, economic or other pressure or because of boycott or threat of boycott of advertising.
C. Statements shall not be attributed to a particular person unless they comprise a direct and accurate quotation of his words or of a document in writing. A letter to the editor may be published other than as written if its author did not prohibit this in advance and if in editing there is no substantive alteration to the contents of the letter or to the implications arising therefrom.
Examination of the facts
5.A. Prior to the publication of any item, the newspaper and the journalist shall check the accuracy thereof with the most reliable source and with the caution appropriate to the circumstances of the case.
B. An examination of the accuracy of an item as aforesaid shall not be waived because of the urgency of the publication.
C. The fact that an item has been published in the past shall not discharge the person seeking to rely on it in a publication from checking the reliability of the item.
6.A. A newspaper and a journalist shall distinguish in the publication between news items and opinion.
B. A news item which is published within the framework of an expression of opinion shall be subject to the rules of ethics concerning news items.
C. The publication of news items shall be fair and not misleading.
D. The headline shall not be misleading.
E. A newspaper and a journalist shall distinguish in the publication between an advertisement and editorial material, in such a manner that an advertisement shall not be published which represents itself as being editorial material.
Rectification of mistake, apologies and response
7. Substantive mistakes, omissions or inaccuracies in the publication of facts must be corrected speedily, fairly and with the appropriate emphasis relative to the original publication. In addition, in suitable cases, an apology shall also be published. In suitable cases a person injured shall be given a fair opportunity to respond to a substantive mistake, omission or inaccuracy speedily and with the appropriate emphasis relative to the original publication.
Privacy and good name
8. A newspaper and a journalist shall not, without the consent of a person, publish an item concerning the privacy or good name of the person, which may injure him, unless there is a public interest in the publication and to the appropriate extent. Publication of an item as aforesaid will generally require a preliminary inquiry with the person concerned and a fair publication of his response.
9.A. A newspaper and a journalist shall not publish the name, photograph or other identifying details of a person who has died or who has been seriously injured in a war, accident or other disaster, prior to information of the death or injury of the said person being brought to the knowledge of his next-of-kin by an authorised person, unless there are exceptional circumstances of public interest in immediate publication.
B. In reaching a decision relating to the publication of the name, photograph or other identifying details of a person who has died or who has been seriously injured in a war, accident or other disaster, the newspaper and journalist shall take into account the request of the next-of-kin of the victim not to publish these details and shall weigh it against the public interest in publishing them. The publication shall be appropriate in manner, extent and sensitivity.
C. In reaching a decision relating to the publication of the name, photograph or other identifying details of a victim of a crime, the newspaper and journalist shall take into account the request of the victim not to publish these details and shall weigh that request against the public interest in publishing them. The publication shall be appropriate in manner, extent and sensitivity.
D. A newspaper and journalist shall not publish the name, photograph or other identifying details of a victim of a sexual offence save with his consent.
E. A newspaper and journalist shall not publish an item concerning the health of an injured person, victim of a crime or sexual offence save in reliance on a competent medical source.
F. (Amendment 16.3.03) A newspaper and journalist shall not publish any item concerning the sexual history of a complainant of a sexual offence save for information about a prior personal relationship with the subject of the complaint.
10.A. A newspaper and journalist shall not publish the name, photograph or other identifying details of a person who is under the age of 14, in circumstances which are likely to injure his name, privacy or welfare, save with the consent of his parents or guardian and where there is a public interest in the identifying publication and to the extent which is appropriate.
B. A newspaper and a journalist shall not publish the name, photograph or other identifying details of a person who is over the age of 14 and under the age of 18, in circumstances which are likely to injure his name, privacy or welfare, save where there is a public interest in the identifying publication and to the extent that is appropriate.
Ill Persons and organ donors
11. A newspaper and a journalist shall not publish the name, photograph or other identifying details of a mentally ill person, drug or alcohol addict, organ donor or recipient, or terminally ill person, without their consent or the consent of their next-of-kin, according to the circumstances, save where there is a public interest in the publication and to the extent which is appropriate.
12.A. The reporting of a trial shall focus on the legal proceedings and shall reflect them in a manner which is faithful to the truth, fair and responsible.
B. A clear distinction shall be drawn between the report of the proceedings and reference to an issue connected to the trial, commentary and investigative journalism publication of which is of public interest.
12.A. In their reporting, a newspaper and a journalist shall respect the fundamental principle that a person is presumed innocent unless found guilty as a matter of law.
B. A newspaper and a journalist shall not publish the name, photograph or other identifying details of a person suspected of an offence, prior to his having been brought before a court, save with his consent or where there is a public interest in the publication.
C (1) (Amendment 13.2.02) In reporting the criminal proceedings, there shall be no manifestation of any apparent intention to influence the outcome of the trial. In particular, during the course of the trial no adamant assessment of the testimony or the positions of the parties or a position concerning a particular outcome of the trial shall be published.
C (2)(Amendment 13.2.02) Notwithstanding the aforesaid, nothing shall preclude publication of a legal commentary concerning the law, its significance and ramifications, at any stage, and following judgment or an interlocutory decision – critiques of legal or factual determinations made therein.
D. Where a newspaper has reported a suspicion, the filing of an indictment or the conviction of a person, and the newspaper and the journalist have been authoritatively informed that the suspicion has been lifted or the indictment was not filed or was quashed or the accused was acquitted or the appeal of a convicted person was upheld, as appropriate, the newspaper shall report the same with appropriate emphasis.
13.A. Where the publication concerns civil proceedings, the newspaper and the journalist shall present the position of all the parties. If a statement of defence has been filed, it shall be fairly reported. If a statement of defence has not been filed, a defendant will generally be given the opportunity to fairly publish his position.
B. Where a civil suit has been dismissed or set aside, this shall be given in so far as possible the equivalent publication as reports regarding the filing of the suit.
C. No report shall be made concerning a claim which has been dismissed or set aside as aforesaid, unless the fact of its dismissal or setting aside is indicated.
D. A newspaper and a journalist shall not publish questions out of interrogatories in a civil procedure, or any details whatsoever therefrom, save in proximity to the answers given to such questions.
E. (Amendment 6.9.99, Amendment 16.3.03) The provisions of this paragraph shall apply, with the appropriate modifications, to a publication concerning a petition to the High Court of Justice as well as to a publication concerning a complaint to the Press Council.
13A. The moral and legal obligation applicable to every person to offer assistance to a person whom he sees to be in grave and immediate danger of death or injury, also applies to a journalist engaged in journalism.
Discrimination and racism
14. A newspaper and a journalist shall not publish any matter which contains incitement or encouragement of racism or unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, origin, skin colour, ethnic affiliation, nationality, religion, gender, occupation, sexual orientation, illness or physical or mental impairment, political belief or views, and social or economic standing. A newspaper and journalist shall not indicate these characteristics unless they are relevant to the subject of the report.
Conflict of interest
15.A. A newspaper and a journalist shall not place themselves in a position where there is a suspicion of a conflict of interest between their duties as a newspaper and a journalist and any other interest.
B. A publisher of a newspaper and its owners shall once a year publish a proper disclosure of the substantive business and economic interests which they possess within and outside the field of communications.
C. Where a newspaper has a substantive economic or other interest within or outside the field of communications in a particular matter being reported, it shall make a proper disclosure of that interest in a place adjacent to the said report.
D. The names of the publisher, the owners and the editor of the newspaper shall appear in every issue thereof.
16.A. A newspaper and a journalist shall not make improper use of their position, their work or their power to publish or to refrain from publishing.
B. A newspaper and a journalist shall not make improper use of information which has come into their possession by reason of their work.
17.A. A journalist shall not deal in any occupation, work, service, public relations, advertising and soliciting of advertisements which give rise to the suspicion or appearance of conflict of interest or of misleading the public.
B. (Amendment 26.3.97) Without derogating from other additional occupations, an additional occupation which gives rise to the suspicion or appearance of conflict of interest or of misleading the public, shall include:
(1) broadcasts of advertisements, public relations or other similar service connected to the area of occupation or expertise of the journalist presenting these services;
(2) broadcasts of advertisements, public relations or other similar service presented by a journalist who deals with news, current affairs, commentary, investigative journalism or interviews on a range of issues;
(3) public relations, publication or soliciting of advertisements, made by a journalist on a permanent basis.
* Advisory opinion regarding the application of Paragraph 17:
A journalist is entitled to request a committee of the Press Council to render an advisory opinion regarding the application of Paragraph 17 to the additional occupation in which he wishes to engage. The power to render an advisory opinion regarding the aforesaid question shall be granted to the Ethics Committee which was established by Paragraph 23 of the Rules of Ethics or to a special committee which shall be established by the plenum or by the Presidency for this purpose, in accordance with Paragraph 32 of the Regulations of the Press Council.
18.A. journalist shall not ask for and shall not accept a benefit in relation to a matter connected with his journalistic work, except from the media in which he is employed.
19. A newspaper and a journalist shall not be instructed in the fulfilment of their functions by any external body which is not disclosed and in particular not by advertisers or governmental, economic or political bodies.
20. A newspaper and a journalist shall not, for the purpose of obtaining information use improper means which would bring disgrace to the profession of journalism, including violence, extortion, threats, enticements, unlawful invasion of privacy, unlawful eavesdropping, or any other means of obtaining information which is likely, in the circumstances of the case, to seriously impair the confidence of the public in journalism.
Indicating the source of the publication
21. No newspaper or journalist shall present the work of another newspaper or journalist. In every case where information is quoted which has already been published in another communications medium or by a news agency, the newspaper and journalist shall indicate the identity of the original publisher.
22. A newspaper and a journalist shall not disclose information which has been disclosed to them on condition that it remains confidential and shall not expose the identity of a confidential source save with the consent of the source.
Ethics in a newspaper
23.A. A newspaper shall ensure the suitable qualification of journalists working for it, within the field of professional journalistic ethics.
B. A publisher of a newspaper and its owners shall ensure the maintenance of conditions which will enable all journalistic work carried out in a newspaper to be performed in accordance with the principles of professional journalistic ethics.
C. A newspaper and a journalist are entitled to request the Ethics Committee of the Press Council to render an opinion on a fundamental matter of professional journalistic ethics. The Ethics Committee shall act as an advisory body.
Editor and journalist
24.A. No item or article shall be published in the name of a journalist the contents of which have been significantly altered by an editor, without the consent of the journalist.
B. An editor, who has rejected for publication an article written by a journalist, shall not impair the right of the journalist to publish the article in another newspaper.
Suspension from journalism and termination
25.A. A journalist, who has been indicted by the State for a criminal offence, shall have his case heard by the Ethics Tribunal of the Press Council, which will determine whether the offence with which he is charged brings disgrace to the profession of journalism. Where the Ethics Tribunal finds that the said offence brings disgrace to the profession of journalism, it shall be entitled to require the newspaper to suspend the journalist from his work in journalism to the proper extent as determined by the Ethics Tribunal on the basis of the offence and on the basis of the entirety of the circumstances, until the final legal determination.
B. Where a journalist is convicted under a final judgment of an offence which the Ethics Tribunal has determined brings disgrace to the profession of journalism, the Tribunal shall be entitled to require the newspaper to terminate the employment of the journalist to the proper extent as determined by the Ethics Tribunal on the basis of the offence and on the basis of the entirety of the circumstances.
C. In considering suspension and termination of employment as aforesaid, the Ethics Tribunal shall act in accordance with the procedure set out in the Regulations of the Press Council.