Declaration of Principles adopted on October 23, 1979 by the Junta Técnica de Periodismo (Technical Council of Journalism), a statutory body within the “Ministry of Government and Justice”, whose main function is to award certificates of aptitude for the practice of journalism.
Declaration of Principles
Panamanian journalists establish and recognize that:
1.- Freedom of expression is an inalienable right which the people possess to formulate and defend one’s opinion, to be informed truly, honestly and completely, without any other restrictions than those set by the Code of Ethics of Journalists.
2.- The National Constitution establishes that principle as a universal conquest of mankind.
3.- A journalist must strive to maintain harmony in his/her relationship with his/her employers on the basis of the collective contracts that define the rights of either party.
4.- It is a basic principle of democracy that the people own the right to get serious, true and unadulterated information, as well as to access communication media, which are not to be the privilege of a few.
5.- Journalists are not to yield to the personal interests of their employer nor of any pressure group – which differ greatly from the norms explicitly enunciated in the National Constitution, in the Code of ethics, in the Law on the Exercise of Journalism and the appended regulations.
6.- Language, the faithful working tool, is a fundamental, essential part of the national culture, so the journalist must preserve it as a legacy for future generations.
The Journalist and the Community.
Every human being possesses the right of giving and receiving information. The journalist will stand as a loyal guardian insuring that the transmission of messages takes place, in a balanced manner, to all classes of society – and that the flow of true information runs smoothly to the benefit of the majority and not just of tiny groups of interest.
Unbalance and distortion in the news can change the historic progress of a people. A journalist must fight against such a trend, favouring a message of substance in place of one that is banal and superficial. He/she will give precedence to honest, serious, responsible and true information, avoiding the superficial originality of a message devoid of the real elements in the Panamanian society.
The Journalist and News Sources.
A journalist is bound by an engagement to the source that has provided him/her with news. Consequently, he/she will not reveal the origin of the information, protecting by all means the genesis of it.
A journalist must serve truth. Not violate the privacy of people in order to obtain information.
The Responsibility of the Journalist.
A journalist must be aware of his/her responsibility. Not betray his/her own conscience and the profession.
One of the fundamental principles of journalism is the truthfulness of the source and of the information. When a breakdown occurs, a journalist must spontaneously correct his/her errors and acknowledge the right of reply of people involved in the imbroglio.
A journalist will abstain from using his/her access to the news media for personal, selfish or unworthy purposes.
He/she will not allow third parties to buy his/her silence or conceal the truth . Will not accept that payment of commissions or fees be a condition for publishing news or accusations.
The Journalist and his/her Colleagues
A journalist does not indulge in diatribe and insult. He/she will preserve the image of the profession and will heighten its dignity by debate of a high and responsible nature. Will not use his/her access to media to attack some colleague. Will show solidarity with persecuted journalists, by trying at all times to establish the best relations with the legitimate established organizations, by contributing to the strengthening of professional friendship and dignity.
A journalist will not appropriate information obtained by another reporter, thus avoiding dishonesty and plagiarism among colleagues.
The Journalist and the State.
A journalist, conscious that the Panamanian nation is founded on a sovereign and independent State, must incite all the men and women associated in the nation to adopt a respectful behaviour and a collective orientation. He/she will respect the laws and will abstain from publishing biased news that tend to fragment the great Pana¬ma¬nian family. Will not use rumours, anonymous columns and news stories, such acts being inadequate and vile in the exercise of the profession.
All journalists, in order to safeguard this code of ethics and the dignity of their profession, undertake to denounce violations of the present code to the Technical Council of Journalism.
Violations of this Code.
The journalist who violates the dispositions set out in this code of ethics will be subject to the sanctions provided for in paragraph d) of article 2 of Law 68 dated September 19, 1970.
[Translation by Claude-Jean Bertrand, from www.rjionline.org]