Code of Press Ethics, established by the member organizations of the Media Organizations Convention and adopted in 2004.
The present Code of Press Ethics was established by the member organizations of the Media Organizations Convention [see below].
The provisions of the Code of Press Ethics are freely consented upon by journalists, members of the professional, patronage and trade union organizations signatory of the “The Journalist’s Statute” adopted by the media Organizations Convention held in Sinaia between July 9-11th .
The enforcement of the provisions set forth by the Code of Press Ethics will be made thanks to the care for specialized bodies of each signatory organization of the “Journalist’s Statute.”
Through the present Code, the notion of “public interest” will be regarded as following these premises:
any matter affecting the existence of the community is of public interest. This is not limited to the political aspects only but also includes any other circumstance which could be of any interest to the community.
The public interest does not refer only to the matters considered as such by the powers-that-be.
The way in which the government, the authorities and the public institutions act and function but also any other entity that uses public funds or which affects the community is of major public interest.
All words spoken, actions, omissions or gestures made by the dignitaries, politicians and other public officials with relation to the fulfilling of their duties are of major public interest. Their private lives are of major public interest only when they are relevant to the fulfilling of their duties.
Having in view the contribution of the authorities to the proper administration of power and of public services, any critique brought against a particular administration is of major public interest.
When there is no clear public interest at stake, freedom of speech can only be limited by the interest of protecting another fundamental right.
Any information regarding the encroaching of human rights – as they are defined in the international documents also ratified by Romania – is of major public interest.
The Role of the Journalist
1.1. A journalist has the responsibility to exercise the uninfringeable right of free speech so as to maintain the public informed.
A journalist enjoys enhanced protection while exercising his/her uninfringeable right, due to the vital role of protector of the democratic values, which the press holds within society.
1.2. A journalist has the responsibility to look for, to respect and communicate the facts – as they become known through reasonable research – by virtue of the public’s right to be informed.
1.3. A journalist has the responsibility to express opinions only based on actual facts. When stating facts and opinions, a journalist will act in good faith.
1.4. A journalist has the responsibility of signalling negligence, injustice and abuse of any kind.
1.5. In his/her approach to inform the public, a journalist has to depict the society in its full diversity, allowing for individual and minority opinions to make their way inside the press. The public has the right to know not only the favourable information and ideas, or those considered harmless but also those that offend, shock and bother. These are the requirements of pluralism, tolerance and openness, without which there is no democratic society.
1.6. A journalist profession implies certain rights and obligations, certain freedoms and responsibilities.
1. Professional Conduct
2.1. Respecting Human Rights
While exercising its role as champion of democracy, the press has the primordial duty to respect human rights. Thus:
2.1.1. A journalist has the responsibility to respect the presumption of innocence.
2.1.2. A journalist has the responsibility to respect the private life of the individual (including those aspects that regard family, residence and correspondence). Interfering into one’s private life is permitted only when the public interest of finding the information prevails. In this context it is irrelevant whether a public person actually wanted or not to obtain this information. An activity is not considered private just because it is not publicly developed.
2.1.3. A journalist has the responsibility to bear in mind the legitimate interest of a minor. He/she will protect the identity of minors involved in felonies, whether as victims or as felons, with the exception of the situation in which the public interest demands that they are properly identified, or if their parents or legal representatives so demanded, so as to protect the superior interest of the minor.
2.1.4. The identity of the victims of accidents, disasters or crimes, mainly those sexually abused, should not be revealed with the exception of the situation in which there is a consent from those victims or when there is a major public interest that prevails. The same treatment should benefit vulnerable persons (the sick, the disabled, refugees, etc).
2.1.5. A journalist has the responsibility to maintain him/herself far from discrimination against any person based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation or any kind of disabilities and also he/she should refrain form any instigation to hatred and violence while stating the facts or expressing his/her opinions.
2.2. The Rules of editing
2.2.1. Information has to be clearly separate from opinions. A journalist will make clear steps towards that.
2.2.2. A journalist will verify the information in a reasonable manner before printing it and will express opinions based mainly on facts. Any clearly false information or those about which a journalist has reasonable doubts as to their truthfulness shall not be published.
2.2.3. With regards to what he/she accounts, A journalist has to make efforts in order to present the points of view of all those involved.
2.2.4. While editing, a journalist will respect the rules of quoting. If he/she partially quotes someone, a journalist has the obligation not to alter the message of that particular person.
2.3. The Protection of Sources
2.3.1. A journalist has the responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of those sources that demand it, or of those sources whose life, physical or mental integrity or work place could be in jeopardy if their identity were revealed.
2.4. Gathering Information
2.4.1. A journalist will obtain information in an open and transparent manner. The use of special investigation techniques is justified when the public interest exists and when the information cannot be obtained by other means. It is recommended that the use of special investigative techniques be explicitly mentioned when publishing the information.
2.5. Status Abuse
2.5.1. Using a journalist’s status in order to obtain personal benefits or in order to favour a third party, constitutes a serious violation of ethical norms and is thus unacceptable.
2.5.2. Considering a journalist’s professional status, he/she will not accept gifts consisting in money or having any other nature; or any other advantages that he/she is offered.
2.5.3. A journalist will avoid putting him/herself in a situation of conflict of interests. It is recommended that a separation be made between the editorial activities of a journalist and the political and economic ones.
2.6.1. A journalist will exercise his profession according to his/her own conscience and in complete harmony with the provisions set forth by the “Journalist’s Statute” [see below] and the present Code of Press Ethics.
2.7. Correcting Errors. The right to reply
2.7.1. A journalist will promptly correct any error that has appeared in his materials. If he/she thinks it to be necessary, a journalist can publish apologies.
2.7.2. The right to reply is granted when this request is considered to be justified and reasonable.
2. A journalist’s Rights
3.1. A journalist is protected by international treaties and conventions to which Romania took part and which guarantee the freedom of speech and the free access to information, and information sources.
3.2. A journalist has the right to oppose censorship in any way.
3.3. The protection of professional secrecy and of confidential sources is both a right and an obligation for a journalist.
3.4. A journalist has the right to invoke the conscience clause. He/she has the right to refuse any journalistic action that he/she considers to be against the principles of journalist ethics or against his/her own principles. This freedom derives from the obligation a journalist has to inform the public in good faith.
3.5. By virtue of the separation between economic activities and editorial ones, a journalist has the right to refuse any advertising or sponsorship contracts given to the press institution he/she works for.
3.6. A journalist enjoys, according to the law, the protection of his copyright privileges.
3.7. A journalist affirms his right to be protected by the press institution he/she works for and also by the professional or trade union association that represents his/her interests in opposition to any pressure exercised against him/her, pressure that can lead to a breach of professional conduct as set forth by the “Journalist’s Statute” and the present Code of Press Ethics.
THE PRESENT CODE OF PRESS ETHICS IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE “JOURNALIST’S STATUTE” ADOPTED BY THE MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS CONVENTION HELD IN SINAIA, JULY 9-11TH 2004.
THE CONVENTION OF THE MEDIA ORGANIZATION – ROMANIA
The Convention of the Media Organizations in Romania (COM) was established in December 2002 and includes over 40 media professional organizations – associations of journalists, media owners, press distributors, broadcasters, or photographers, journalists’ unions and other media NGOs (www.freeex.ro/en/index_com.html).
COM was established with the support of the Center of Independent Journalism and of the Media Monitoring Agency (www.mma.ro), the two organizations still holding a secretarial position in the Convention.
The aims of the Convention are:
To advocate for the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Romania;
To implement the Journalist’s Statute and the Journalists Code of Press Ethics, adopted by the Convention in July 2004;
To monitor the economic environment in which media institutions are functioning and to develop strategies for its improvement;
To monitor the main global trends in the media industry (legislation, ethics, technologies etc.) and to analyse their impact in Romania.
All these aims are achieved in common projects developed by the members.
The Journalist’s Statute
1. The journalistic profession is free and independent, in conformity with the right of free speech and free information, stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the European Convention of Human Rights, the Romanian Constitution and also by the Journalist’s Code of Press Ethics, which is part of the present statute.
2. A journalist is that person which exercises the right to free speech and whose primarily source of income is obtained by developing journalistic products – either as an employee or as a freelancer – no matter the area (written, broadcast, online, press etc.).
3. The journalist’s profession is recognized by professional, patronage and trade union organizations, signatory of this statute.
4. The role, the professional conduct, the rights and obligations of a journalist are stipulated by the Code of Press Ethics, constituent part of this statute.
5. The provisions of the Code of Press Ethics are freely consented upon by the journalists and members of the professional, patronage and trade union organizations signatory of this statute.
6. Implementing the provisions of the present statute, and also those of the Code of Press Ethics is entrusted to the specialized body within each signatory organization.
7. The implementing body can mediate any litigation between journalist and his/her employer.
8. A journalist has the right to address the implementation body about any litigation regarding professional problems between him/her and his/her employer.
9. None of the provisions of the present statute, of the Code of Press Ethics or of the Collective Work Contract can be interpreted contrary to the provisions of the international principles regarding the freedom of speech.
10. Journalists that are not part of any of the signatory organizations of the present statute can give an acceptance declaration to the secretariat of the Media Organizations Convention.
11. Also the present statute is open for endorsement by all professional, patronage and trade union organizations journalists are part of, organizations that didn’t take part in drafting the statute but which find themselves among its provisions.
THE PRESENT STATUTE WAS ADOPTED BY THE MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS CONVENTION IN SINAIA, JULY 9-11TH 2004.
MEMBERS OF THE CONVENTION OF THE MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS IN ROMANIA (June 2005):
Association for the Promotion and Protection of the Freedom of Expression (APPLE)
Regional Centre for Journalism – Iasi
Association of the Editors in Local Media – Brasov
Association of Professional Journalists in Suceava
Association of Broadcasters (ARCA)
Association of National Minority Media
Association of Hungarian Journalists in Romania
Association of Young Journalists in Romania
Association of Photojournalists in Romania
Association of Online Editors in Romania
Association of Women Journalists in Romania (ARIADNA)
Association Civic Media euro.21
Association Roumaine des Journalistes et de la Presse de Langue Française
Association of Local Media – Maramures (PRESS MAR)
Association of Visual Communication Videovest –Timisoara
Association of Independent Radio Stations (RAIND)
Association of the Sports Press
Association for Freedom of Expression – Ro-Transparency (ALERT) – Focsani
Association AltPHel – Ploiesti
Association of the Professional Journalists in Deva
Association of the Romanian Journalists in Canada
Association of the Media Consumers
Association of the Image Professionals – Cluj
Cartoonists Rights Network – Romania
Club of Economic Press in Romania
Federation of the United Trade Unions in the Public Television
Federation of Journalists and Printers Trade Unions (FSJTR)
Foundation “Forum of Romanian Press Abroad”
Initiative Group of the Journalists in Bacau
Journalists League in Sibiu
Journalists Club – Gorj
Press Club of Cluj
Romanian Center of Investigative Journalism
Romanian Press League
Society of Romanian Journalists (SZR)
Society of Journalists in Galati
Start Media Foundation – Bucharest
Trade Union of Journalists and Media Professionals in Arad
Union of the Professional Journalists in Romania (UZP)
Union of the Professional Journalists in Maramures