Nigeria – Nigerian Press Organisation (1998)

Code of Ethics, formally ratified by the Nigerian Press Organisation at the Ilorin Forum, organised by the Nigerian Press Council, 18-20 March 1998.

The Ilorin Declaration
Delegates at the Forum for the implementation of the Code of Ethics, affirm and declare as follows:

That we:
ACCEPT the imperative of a Code of Ethics as a vital pillar of journalism and the necessity for the application of ethics to enhance standards;

AFFIRM that self-regulation through a Code of Ethics and other structures drawn up by professionals would best serve the interest of both the profession and the public;

ENJOIN the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria to ensure the implementation of the eligibility criteria for entry into and practice of journalism in Nigeria, as contained in the Nigerian Press Council Decree No 85 of 1992;

PLEDGE to abide by the Code of Ethics and to promote the observance of its provisions by all journalists; and

URGE the Nigerian Press Council to collaborate with the Nigerian Press Organisation to publicise the Code of Ethics for the benefit of the press and the public, and ensure compliance with its provisions hereafter.

Journalism entails a high degree of public trust. To earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and every news medium to observe the highest professional and ethical standards. In the exercise of these duties, a journalist should always have a healthy regard for the public interest.

Truth is the cornerstone of journalism and every journalist should strive diligently to ascertain the truth of every event.

Conscious of the responsibilities and duties of journalists as purveyors of information, we, Nigerian journalists, give to ourselves this Code of Ethics. It is the duty of every journalist to observe its provisions.

1. Editorial independence
Decisions concerning the content of news should be the responsibility of a professional journalist.

2. Accuracy and fairness
i. The public has a right to know. Factual, accurate, balanced and fair reporting is the ultimate objective of good journalism and the basis of earning public trust and confidence.
ii. A journalist should refrain from publishing inaccurate and misleading information. Where such information has been inadvertently published, prompt correction should be made. A journalist must hold the right of reply as a cardinal rule of practice.
iii. In the course of his duties a journalist should strive to separate facts from conjecture and comment.

3. Privacy
As a general rule, a journalist should respect the privacy of individuals and their families unless it affects the public interest.
A. Information on the private life of an individual or his family should only be published if it impinges on public interest.
B. Publishing of such information about an individual as mentioned above should be deemed justifiable only if it is directed at:
i. Exposing crime or serious misdemeanour;
ii. Exposing anti-social conduct;
iii. Protecting public health, morality and safety;
iv. Preventing the public from being misled by some statement or action of the individual concerned.

4. Privilege/Non-disclosure
i. A journalist should observe the universally accepted principle of confidentiality and should not disclose the source of information obtained in confidence.
ii. A journalist should not breach an agreement with a source of information obtained as “off-the-record” or as “background information.”

5. Decency
i. A journalist should dress and comport himself in a manner that conforms with public taste.
ii. A journalist should refrain from using offensive, abusive or vulgar language.
iii. A journalist should not present lurid details, either in words or picture, of violence, sexual acts, abhorrent or horrid scenes.
iv. In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries should be carried out and approaches made with sympathy and discretion.
v. Unless it is in the furtherance of the public’s right to know, a journalist should generally avoid identifying relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime.

6. Discrimination
A journalist should refrain form making pejorative reference to a person’s ethnic group, religion, sex, or to any physical or mental illness or handicap.

7. Reward and gratification
i. A journalist should neither solicit nor accept bribes, gratifications or patronage to suppress or publish information.
ii. To demand payment for the publication of news is inimical to the notion of news as a fair, accurate, unbiased and factual report of an event.

8. Violence
A journalist should not present or report acts of violence, armed robberies, terrorist activities or vulgar display of wealth in a manner that glorifies such acts in the eyes of the public.

9. Children and minors
A journalist should not identify, either by name or picture, or interview children under the age of 16 who are involved in cases concerning sexual offences, crimes and rituals or witchcraft either as victims, witnesses or defendants.

10. Access of information
A journalist should strive to employ open and honest means in the gathering of information.

Exceptional methods may be employed only when the public interest is at stake.

11. Public interest
A journalist should strive to enhance national unity and public good.

12. Social responsibility
A journalist should promote universal principles of human rights, democracy, justice, equity, peace and international understanding.

13. Plagiarism
A journalist should not copy, wholesale or in part, other people’s work without attribution and/or consent.

14. Copyright
i. Where a journalist reproduces a work, be it in print, broadcast, art work or design, proper acknowledgement should be accorded the author.
ii. A journalist should abide by all rules of copyright, established by national and international laws and conventions.

15. Press freedom and responsibility
A journalist should strive at all times to enhance press freedom and responsibility.

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