South Africa – Media Council

South African Media Council Code of Conduct.

The freedom of the media is indivisible from, and subject to the same legal and moral restrains as that of the individual and rests on the public’s fundamental right to be informed.

Reporting of news
The media shall be obliged to report news truthfully, accurately and objectively.

News shall be presented in the correct context and in a balanced manner, without intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by:
1. distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation;
2. material omissions; or
3. summarisation.

Only what may reasonably be true having regard to the source of the news may be presented as facts, and such facts shall be published fairly with due regard to context and importance. Where a report is not based on facts or is founded on opinion, allegation, rumour or supposition, it shall be presented in such a manner as to indicate this clearly.

Where there is reason to doubt the correctness of a report and it is practicable to verify the correctness thereof, I shall be verified. Where it has not been practicable to verify the correctness of a report, this shall be mentioned in such report.

Where it subsequently appears that a published or broadcast report was incorrect in a material respect, it shall be rectified spontaneously and without reservation or delay. The correction shall be presented with a degree of prominence which is adequate and fair so as readily to attract attention.

Reports, photographs or sketches relative to matters involving indecency or obscenity shall be presented with due sensitivity towards the prevailing moral climate. In particular, the press and television services shall avoid the publication of obscene and lascivious matter.

The identity of rape victims and other victims of sexual violence shall not be published or broadcast without the consent of the victim.

The media shall be entitled to comment upon or criticise any actions or events of public importance, provided such comments or criticisms are fairly and honestly made.

Comment shall be presented in such a manner that it appears clearly that it is comment, and shall be made on facts truly stated or fairly indicated and referred to.

Comment shall be an honest expression of opinion, without malice or dishonest motives, and shall take fair account of all available facts which are material to the matter commented upon.

Special provisions relating to the press
Headlines and captions to pictures shall give a reasonable reflection of the contents of the report or picture in question.

Posters shall not exaggerate and shall give a reasonable reflection of the contents of the reports in question.

In so far as both news and comment are concerned, the media shall exercise exceptional care and consideration in matters involving the private lives and concerns of individuals, bearing in mind that the right to privacy may be overridden by a legitimate public interest.

Payment for articles
No payment shall be made for feature articles or programmes to persons engaged in crime or other notorious misbehaviour.

Due care and responsibility shall be exercised by the media with regard to:
1. subjects that may cause enmity or give offence in racial, ethnic, religious or cultural matters, or incite persons to contravene the law.
2. matters that may detrimentally affect the peace and good order, the safety and defence of the Republic and its people;
3. the presentation of brutality, violence and atrocities.

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