Ethical Code of Practice for the Press (printed press, radio and television), adopted by the Norwegian Press Association on 14 December 1994.
Each editor and member of editorial staff is required to be familiar with these ethical standards of the press, and to base their practice on this code.
1. The role of the press in society
1.1. Freedom of speech, freedom of information, and freedom of the press are basic elements of a democracy. A free, independent press is among the most important institutions in a democratic society.
1.2. As a social institution, the press looks after important tasks in that it carries information, debates and critical comments on society. The press therefore is particularly responsible for allowing different views to be expressed.
1.3. The press shall protect freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and the principle of access to official documents. It cannot yield to any pressure from anybody who might want to prevent the free flow of information, free access to sources, and open debate on any matter of importance to society as a whole.
1.4. It is the right of the press to carry information on what goes on in society and to uncover and disclose matters which ought to be subjected to criticism.
1.5. It is the task of the press to protect individuals and groups against injustices or neglect, committed by public authorities and institutions, private concerns, or others.
2. Integrity and responsibility
2.1. The editor responsible according to law, carries personal and full responsibility for the material contained in the newspaper, the magazine or radio and television transmissions.
2.2. Each editorial desk and each employee must guard their own integrity and credibility in order to be free to act independently of any persons or groups who – for ideological, economic, or other reasons – might want to exercise an influence over editorial matters.
2.3. Members of the editorial staff must not accept commissions or offices creating conflicts of interest in relation to their editorial tasks. They must avoid dual roles that may reduce their credibility.
2.4. Members of the editorial staff should not use their position to achieve personal gains.
2.5. A member of the editorial staff cannot be ordered to write or do anything which is contrary to his or her own convictions.
2.6. Reject any attempt to break down the clear distinction between advertisements and editorial copy. Advertisements intended to imitate or exploit an editorial product, should be turned down, as should advertisements undermining trust in the editorial integrity and independence of the press.
2.7. Never promise editorial favours in return for advertisements. The material is published as a result of editorial considerations.
2.8. It is a breach of good press conduct to let sponsorship affect editorial activity, contents and presentation.
2.9. Members of the editorial staff may not accept assignments from anyone but the heads of the editorial staff.
3. Relations with the sources
3.1. The credibility of the press is strengthened by the use of identifiable sources, as long as identification does not come into conflict with the need to protect the sources.
3.2. Be critical in the choice of sources and make sure that the information is correct. The use of anonymous sources implies a special need for a critical evaluation of the sources.
3.3. Good press conduct presupposes that the premises for interviews and similar relations with sources and contacts are clearly stated.
3.4. Protect the sources of the press. The protection of sources is a basic principle in a free society and is a prerequisite for the ability of the press to fulfil its duties towards society and ensure the access to essential information.
3.5. Do not divulge the name of a person who has provided information on a confidential basis, unless consent has been explicitly given by the person concerned.
3.6. In consideration of the sources and the independence of the press, unpublished material as a main rule should not be divulged to third parties.
3.7. It is the duty of the press to report the intended meaning in quotes from an interview. Direct quotes must be accurate.
3.8. Changes of a given statement should be limited to corrections of factual errors. No one without editorial authority may intervene in the editing or presentation of editorial material.
3.9. In particular show consideration for people who cannot be expected to be aware of the effect that their statements may have. Never abuse the emotions or feelings of other people, their ignorance or their lack of judgement.
3.10. Hidden cameras/microphones or false identity may only be used under special circumstances. The condition must be that such a method is the only possible way to uncover cases of essential importance to society.
4. Publication rules
4.1. Make a point of fairness and thoughtfulness in contents and presentation.
4.2. Make plain what is factual information and what is comment.
4.3. Always respect a person’s character and identity, privacy, race, nationality or belief. Never draw attention to personal or private aspects if they are irrelevant.
4.4. Make sure that headlines, introductions and leads do not go beyond what is being related in the text.
4.5. In particular, avoid presumption of guilt in crime and court reporting. Make it evident that the question of guilt, whether relating to somebody under suspicion, reported, accused or charged, has not been decided until the sentence has legal efficacy. It is a part of good press conduct to report the final result of court proceedings which have been reported earlier.
4.6. Always consider how reports on accidents and crime may affect the victims and next-of-kin. Do not identify victims or missing persons unless next-to-kin have been informed. Show consideration towards people in grief or imbalance.
4.7. Be cautious in the use of names and pictures and other items of definite identification in court and crime reporting. Particular consideration should be shown when writing about cases still being investigated, and cases involving young offenders. Refrain from identification unless this is necessary to meet just and fair demands for information.
4.8. As a general rule the identity of children should not be disclosed in reports on family disputes or cases under consideration by the child care authorities or by the courts.
4.9. Suicide and attempted suicide should in general never be given any mention.
4.10. Exercise caution when using photos in any other connection than the original.
4.11. Protect the credibility of the journalistic photograph. Photos used as documentation must not be altered in a way that creates a false impression. Manipulated photos can only be accepted as illustrations if it is evident that it in actual fact is a picture collage.
4.12. The use of pictures must comply with the same requirements of caution as for a written or oral presentation.
4.13. Incorrect information must be corrected and, when called for, an apology given, as soon as possible.
4.14. Those who have been subjected to strong accusations shall, if possible, have the opportunity to simultaneous reply as regards factual information. Debates, criticism and dissemination of news must not be hampered by parties being unwilling to make comments or take part in the debate.
4.15. Those who have been subjected to attacks shall, as soon as possible, have the opportunity to reply, unless the attack or criticism are parts of a running exchange of views. Such responses should never be accompanied by an editorial, polemical comment, but any response should be within reasonable length, be pertinent to the matter, and seemly in its form.