Japan – Nihon Shinbun Kyokai (2000)

The Canon of Journalism, adopted by the Nihon Shinbun Kyokai on 21 June 2000.

Aware afresh of the important mission of newspapers on the threshold of the 21st century, and pledging their continued effort toward an affluent and peaceful future, members of the Nihon Shinbun Kyokai (The Japan Newspaper Publishers and – Editors Association) have formulated this new Canon of Journalism.

The public’s right to know is a universal principle that sustains a democratic society. That right cannot be ensured without the existence of media, operating with the guarantee of freedom of speech and expression, while being totally committed to a high moral standard and fully independent of all powers. Member newspapers resolve to retain their role as the fittest standard-bearers in this regard.

In a modern society flooded with a vast range of information, the public is constantly required to make correct and swift decisions on what is true and which information to select. It is the responsibility of member newspapers to respond to such requirements and fulfil their public and cultural mission through accurate and fair reporting, and through responsible commentaries.

All newspapermen and women engaged in duties including editing, production, advertising and circulation should uphold freedom of speech and expression. They should also conduct themselves with honour and decency in such a way as to ensure this responsibility is duly performed, and to strengthen the readers’ confidence in the newspapers.

Freedom and Responsibility: Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and newspapers have that absolute freedom in both their news coverage and editorial comment. In exercising that freedom, however, member newspapers must be duly aware of their heavy responsibility and be constantly mindful not to impair public interests.

Accuracy and Fairness: Newspapers are the first chroniclers of history, and the mission of reporters lies in the constant pursuit of truth. Reporting must be accurate and fair, and should never be swayed by the reporter’s personal conviction or bias. Editorial judgment should be an honest expression of the writer’s belief, not to court popularity.

Independence and Tolerance: Member newspapers uphold their independence in the interests of fair comment and free speech. They must reject interference by any outside forces and resolve to remain vigilant against those who may wish to use the newspapers for their own purposes. On the other hand, they should willingly give space to opinions that differ from their own, provided such opinions are accurate, fair and responsible.

Respect for Human Rights: Member newspapers should pay utmost respect to the dignity of human beings, put a high value on individuals’ honour and give serious consideration to their right to privacy. They should also acknowledge errors and correct them promptly, and in cases when an individual or a group has been unjustly maligned, adequate steps should be taken to rectify the situation, including the provision of an opportunity to reply.

Decency and Moderation: In the performance of their public and cultural mission member newspapers must be available for anyone to read anytime, anywhere. They should maintain decency both editorially and in the area of advertising, and in their circulation practices they should at all times exercise moderation and good sense.

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