This Code of Ethics and Conduct of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), was adopted on 19 May 1997 at the head office of the PUL, King Sao Bosso Street, Monrovia, Liberia.
This document was published with the financial assistance from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, West Africa Media Project.
The code of ethics and conduct for Liberian Journalists has been drawn up as a ready reference guide and its application is binding on all members of the Press Union of Liberia. The code is to ensure that members adhere to the highest ethical standards, professional competence and good behaviour in performing their duties. The public expect the media to perform with a high sense of responsibility without infringing on the rights of individuals and society.
Code of ethics and conduct
The journalists shall defend freedom of speech, expression and information.
The journalists should make sure of the of what he/she reports without distortions.
The journalist should refrain from plagiarism, defamation, obscenity, slander and unformed accusations. Where there is need to use other’s material, it is proper to credit the source.
The journalist’s freedom of opinion shall be exercised in respect of the right of the public to information. In all instances, the accuracy of the facts reported or commented on, shall not be misrepresented through the journalists personal opinions.
The journalist should respect the private lives of persons when they have no consequence on public life. Journalists should ensure the respect of the rights or reputations of others. Enquiries and intrusions into an individual’s life can only be justified when done in the public interest.
Malicious information liable to discredit a person or expose him/her to scorn or hate should not be published/broadcast.
The journalist should refuse and denounce all attempts at bribery and corruption. No journalist should receive or expect any benefit from the publication/broadcast or the suppression of any information or commentary. The journalist should avoid all affiliations with any individuals/groups whose company is likely to call his/her credibility to question. The journalist should put himself/herself above partisan and ideological cleavages in order to give greater prominence to norms and professional practices.
The journalist should refrain from biased coverage of events that have tribal, sectional and political implications.
The journalist should publish correction or rejoinder promptly and give it due prominence. An apology should be given whenever appropriate.
The journalist should not publish or broadcast incitement to violence, crime, revolt or war.
The journalist should not engage in negative journalism, misleading headlines and fabrications. The journalist should refrain from publications of sensational headlines. Newspaper headlines should be fully warranted by the contents of the articles the accompany. Photographs should give an accurate picture of an event and not highlight an incident out of context.
The journalist should ensure equal access to the media for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.
The journalist should not publish or broadcast false information or unproven allegations.
The journalist should, while in the performance of his/her duty, conduct himself/herself in an orderly manner, refrain from the use of profane language(s) and shall be properly attired.
The journalist should not publish or broadcast information or advocacy of religious or ethnic hatred, especially those that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence.
The journalist should in case of personal grief and distress, exercise tact and diplomacy in seeking information, publishing and broadcasting them.
Journalists should not abuse the use of pseudonyms.
No journalist should use his/her powers for selfish or otherwise unworthy purpose. If this is done, it is faithless to a high trust.
The journalist should make adequate enquiries and cross-check facts before publication/broadcast.
The journalist should be mindful of his/her responsibility to the public and the various interests in society.
Journalists are bound to protect confidential sources of information.
Journalists should ensure that under no circumstance, news or a publication or broadcast be suppressed unless it borders on national security or is in the public interest to do so.
Journalists should not publish or broadcast any report or a write-up affecting the reputation of an individual or an individual or organization without the chance to reply. That is unfair and must be avoided.
Journalists should draw a clear line between comment, conjecture and fact although free to take positions on any issue.
Journalists should respect embargoes on stories.
Journalists should avoid identifying victims of sexual assault.
Journalists shall obtain information, photographs and illustrations only by straight forward means.
The journalist should protect the rights of minors and in criminal and cases, secure the consent of or guardians before interviewing or photographing them.
This Code of Ethics and Conduct shall be binding on all journalists and media institutions in Liberia and punishment for violators shall range from warning, fine , suspension and expulsion. The Press Union of Liberia Grievance and Ethics Committee shall investigate all matters arising out of the violation of this code and recommend penalties to the Executive Committee, for action.