Code of Ethics adopted in 1993 by the Newspaper Editors’ Council of Pakistan (NECP).
The NECP was formed on 22 May 1993. Its aims and objects include safeguarding the freedom of the press and working ceaselessly for the healthy growth of journalism in the country.
The Council believes tha the duty of editors/journalists is to serve the truth. It also believes that the agencies of mass communication are carriers of public discussion and information, acting on their Constitutional mandate and freedom to learn and report the facts.
Article 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which guarantees the freedom of the press, also places some obligations on it. The article reads:
‘Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be Freedom of the Press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam, of the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence’.
In order to fulfil the aforementioned constitutional obligations without inviting government interference and to adhere strictly to the Canons of Journalism i.e. Responsibility; Freedom of the Press; Independence; Sincerity; Accuracy; Impartiality, Fair play and Decency and to realise the goals expounded in the ‘Declaration of Objectives’ adopted by the NECP, we, the members of the Council declare acceptance of the code of ethics here set forth:
1. The following are to be avoided in any form of publication such as news items, editorials, articles, photographs and advertisements:
a. Immorality or obscenity;
b. Vulgar and derogatory expressions against individuals, institutions or groups;
c. Allegations known to be false and malicious against individuals, institutions, groups, newspapers and other publications;
d. Arousing of sectarian, parochial or provincial passions and prejudices and class hatred;
e. Glamorisation of crimes and vice;
f. Incitement to violence.
2. Editors/journalists must be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know the truth.
3. They will make constant efforts to assure that the public’s business is conducted in public and that public records are open to public inspection.
4. The right of the individual to protection of his reputation and integrity must be respected and exposure of, and comment on, the private lives of individuals must be avoided except where it affects the public interest.
5. Presentation of news items and comments on events and airing of legitimate grievances should be fair and objective and there should be no wilful departure from facts. Headlines should be fully warranted by the contents of the items they accompany and photographs should give an accurate picture of an event and not highlight a minor incident out of context; off the record briefings should not be published and embargoes on release dates of news, articles and pictures should be rigorously observed.
6. The journalist should be entitled to protect his source of information revealed in confidence.
7. All paid commercial announcements, articles or advertisements should be specified as such.
8. No newspaper shall accept in any form or shape any financial and pecuniary advantage or obligation from or on behalf of any foreign country, concern, or agency. This does not apply to paid advertisements appearing as such.
9. Gifts, favours, free travel, special treatment or privileges can compromise the integrity of editors and influence their sense of justice and impartiality. Nothing of value should be accepted.
10. Secondary employment, political involvement, holding public office, and service in community organisations should be avoided if it compromises the integrity of editors. The editors should conduct their personal lives in a manner which protects them from conflict of interest, real or apparent.
11. Justified corrections or denials sent as a result of any incorrect information published by newspapers, periodicals or news agencies should be published within the shortest possible period of time so as to effectively eliminate the impression created by the original publication, which necessitated the issuance of a correction or denial.
12. The Press shall refrain from publishing anything derogatory to religion or which may hurt religious feeling of any sect/ minority.
13. The Press shall refrain from publishing anything likely to bring into hatred or contempt the head of any friendly state.
14. The Press shall not publish news or comments, photo-graphs or advertisements which may undermine the security of the state or solidarity of the nation and its ideology.
15. The Press shall refrain from publishing anything likely to undermine the loyalty and allegiance of the defence forces and the civil armed forces.
16. The Press shall refrain from involving the defence forces in politics and offer only fair comment on its performance and conduct.
17. In reporting proceedings of Parliament and Provincial Assemblies, such portions of the proceedings as the Chairman/Speaker may have ordered to be expunged from the records of the House shall not be published and every effort shall be made to give the readers a fair report of what has been said by all sections of Parliament and Provincial Assemblies.
18. In reporting the proceedings of courts of law, care will be taken not to suppress the version or arguments of the contending parties.