Code of Ethics of the Malian Journalist adopted at a conference in Bamako, December 1991, attended by representatives of all journalists and media technicians in Mali – and also colleagues from five other West African nations as well as several NGOs.
We, journalists and media technicians, declare that the right to pluralistic information, free speech and criticism is one of the fundamental rights of all human beings. The defence and the free enjoyment of that right are a necessity from which derive a sys-tem of duties and rights. This system constitutes not only a moral code of conduct, but also a structure of reference by which the State, journalists and media technicians as well as other citizens can appreciate their mutual relationships within the space of communication;
The responsibility of journalists and media technicians towards the public must prevail over any other responsibility, especially towards their employers and the authorities;
The mission of a journalist and media technician, given the re-spect due to press freedom and the public’s right to information, implies requirements and limitations that professionals impose on themselves as their professional ethics; the demands of the journalistic profession carry obvious social importance, which is why it is important that the present declaration translate into day to day behaviour.
It is well-known that the journalist and the media technician’s commitment, loyalty and integrity, which must prevail in the prac-tice of their profession, are largely predicated upon respect for their independence and of their professional dignity; the essence of those duties and rights is established by the present declaration.
The duties of a journalist
Article 1. In his mission as a communicator, a journalist is bound to respect the truth, whatever the consequences for him, because of the public’s right to know the truth.
Article 2. A journalist must only publish information that has been checked. If it has not, the required reservations should be expressed. A journalist must rectify any published information that has turned out to be inaccurate.
Article 3. A journalist is bound to defend the freedom to inform, comment and criticise.
Article 4. A journalist respects the privacy of everyone insofar as the public interest does not require otherwise.
Article 5. A journalist refrains from plagiarism, slander, scandal-mongering, libel and unfounded accusations.
Article 6. A journalist respects professional secrecy and does not reveal the source of information obtained on condition of confidentiality.
Article 7. A journalist, in all circumstances, shows his integrity by refusing all forms of illegitimate payment, direct or indirect. He/she must refuse any advantage linked to the publication or non-publication of a story.
Article 8. A journalist must forswear the representation of violence and brutality for the sake of sensation.
Article 9. A journalist must not mention the names of under-age delinquents. He/she must also avoid to put their name on a photo so as not to jeopardise their future.
Article 10. A journalist will resist any pressure and accept editorial instructions only from the editors in his/her newsroom.
Article 11. A journalist must never confuse his/her mission with that of an advertiser or propagandist. He/she will accept no instruction, direct or indirect, from advertisers.
Article 12. A journalist must not use unfair or reprehensible methods to obtain news, photos or documents.
Article 13. Every journalist will assume responsibility for whatever he has written even if it is unsigned.
Article 14. A journalist must refrain from misappropriating any printed or audiovisual document whose rights of distribution are reserved.
Article 15. In his/her relations with the authorities, with associations, political parties, business or cultural or religious circles, a journalist must avoid any kind of connivance that may endanger the unbiased and independent exercise of the profession.
The rights of journalists
Article 1. A journalist in the pursuit of his journalistic activities is entitled to free access to all sources of information on facts of public life. The secrecy of public and private business can be used only exceptionally and for clearly formulated reasons in order to thwart a journalist.
Article 2. A journalist is entitled to refuse to take orders contrary to the general policy of his company as explicitly defined in his hiring contract. And also to take orders from anyone not clearly defined in that policy as empowered to give them.
Article 3. A journalist cannot be forced to do a professional act or express an opinion that would be contrary to his convictions or to his conscience. In the practice of his job, a journalist must not be forced to accept an act contrary to his professional standards.
Article 4. A journalist is entitled, on the whole extent of the na-tional territory, with no condition or restriction, to personal safety, the protection of the Law and the respect of his dignity.
Article 5. The newsroom staff must absolutely be informed of any important decision likely to affect life in the company.
Article 6. In the course of his work, a journalist is entitled to have recourse to any person whom he/she considers competent to analyse or comment upon an event of local national or international scope.