Code of ethics, issued by the Press Club of Malta and the Institute of Broadcasters in November 1991.
This Code of Ethics, jointly adopted by Press Club (Malta) and by the Institute of Broadcasters, is to serve as a guide to all journalists.
The right to information is one of the fundamental human rights in a free and democratic society. For this reason, in both print and broadcast journalism, journalists should carry out their duties with a great sense of responsibility and should be guided by the public’s right to information.
1. BALANCE, ACCURACY AND FAIRNESS
In their work, journalists must see that the information given is correct, coming from a source best qualified to give it, balanced and fair, and obtained without deceit.
2. CONFIDENTIALITY OF THE SOURCE OF INFORMATION
Journalists respect the confidentiality of the source of information, when this is requested. Confidentiality must be promised only with the intention to honour that promise. In the absence of a clear and urgent need to observe confidentiality, every source of information should be identified. Journalists should also ensure the truth, as far as possible, of information given in the supreme public interest.
3. VERIFICATION OF FACTS
Journalists must always verify facts, acknowledge mistakes and correct them immediately. Every correction should be given due prominence according to each case. Journalists should clearly distinguish between news and opinion.
4. PRESSURE AND CONFLICTING INTERESTS
Journalists must not suppress information for personal interests or under pressure from someone having personal, commercial or other interests of whatever kind, which could be against the general public interest, or, alternately, which could be seeking only undeserved publicity. In this context, journalists should ensure that membership of other societies would not hamper their work.
5. GRAVE OFFENCES AGAINST THE PROFESSION
Plagiarism, malicious distortion of facts, slander, and the publication of libellous allegations and/or of false and baseless allegations, bribery in money or in some other way to give or withhold information, should be considered as grave offences against the profession of journalism and a betrayal of public trust in the profession.
6. RESPECT FOR THE INDIVIDUAL
In carrying out their duties, journalists must respect the right of all citizens to a fair trial in court, and the dignity, privacy and health of persons in the news.
7. AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
Journalists should be the defence shield of all fundamental human rights. They should not, therefore, help to introduce in society discrimination based on sex, race, religion or differences of political opinion. They should always defend freedom of expression and of fair comment.
8. OBSERVANCE OF THIS CODE OF ETHICS
Journalists must observe this Code and condemn its infringement. They should promote the observance of this Code by all journalists whether or not they are members of any organisation.
9. ETHICS COUNCIL
There shall be at all times an Ethics Council to protect and decide on the observance of this Code for the profession’s own prestige. The Council should be made up of a retired magistrate or judge and two members conversant with journalism but no longer active in the profession. The Council should appoint an honorary secretary without the right to vote and would have the power to regulate its own procedure.