Code of Conduct of Independent Newspapers. Independent News & Media is the largest newspaper group in South Africa, publishing 15 daily and weekly newspapers in the country’s major metropolitan centres.
This Code of Conduct is a set of guiding principles for our newspapers. It is the frame of reference for good judgment and common sense required in day-to-day situations presented by media realities.
1. We maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. Fairness, accuracy, honesty, responsibility, independence and decency are our guiding principles.
2. We have a special duty to uphold the principle of freedom of expression, and strive to eliminate distortion, news suppression and censorship.
3. Ever aware of the media’s watchdog role in society, we expose wrongdoing and any abuse of power or positions of power, public or private, serving as a constructive critic of all segments of society.
4. We should as far as possible reflect, in staffing and coverage, the diverse communities we serve, combat discrimination and prejudice on grounds of race and gender or sexual orientation, encourage racial co-operation and generally strive to enhance the welfare of the country.
5. We do not pander to personal or sectional interests but are solely concerned with the public interest.
6. We ensure reporting is impartial and balanced by making every effort to reflect all sides and by maintaining clear distinctions between comment, conjecture and fact.
7. We will rectify promptly any harmful inaccuracies with due prominence. Where apologies are warranted, these should be tendered without undue delay. In cases of sufficient importance, the right of reply should be afforded to persons criticised.
8. Advertising or promotional features should be clearly labelled to avoid confusion over the source and nature of material.
9. Material should be attributed fairly. Strict care should be taken against plagiarism of words or images.
10. We should ensure that all aspects of confidentiality are treated with circumspection and in consultation with senior editorial management.
11. Sources of information will be disclosed unless there is clear reason not to do so. They should not be disclosed where such information was provided under a pledge of confidentiality.
12. Anonymous and unnamed sources are avoided unless absolutely imperative. Information from anonymous sources, or documents received anonymously, should never be used without corroboration. When the confidentiality of a source requires protection, the reason should be explained.
13. Care should be taken against the unjustified disclosure of the identity of victims of crime, especially in cases of sexual assault.
14. Care should be taken against defamation.
15. Respect should be shown for every person’s right to a fair trial.
16. We respect an individual’s right to privacy, except where this clearly conflicts with the public interest, and we discourage any actions which entail unjustifiable intrusion into private grief and distress.
17. Exceptional care is taken that nothing is done which might harm or in any unjustified way compromise the interests of children.
18. Information, photographs and illustrations must be obtained by straight-forward means. The use of other means is justified only by over-riding considerations of the public interest.
19. We do not pay for information, except in extraordinary circumstances where it is in the public interest to obtain such information and there are no other available means. In all cases the editor must give approval.
20. Staff should not accept gifts, freebies or services of value without reference to editors, and in no case should any of
these be accepted if it entails an obligation to the donor. The performance of staff duties should not be allowed to be influenced by inducements, neither should journalistic positions be used for personal gain.
21. Staff must not use for their own profit financial information they receive in advance of its general publication, nor pass such information to others. Financial journalists in particular must not write about shares or securities in whose performance they know they or their close families have a significant financial interest without disclosing the interest to the
editor or financial editor. They must not buy or sell, either directly or through nominees or agents, shares or securities about which they have written recently or about which they intend to write in the near future.
22. Staff members should avoid active involvement in public affairs where a conflict of interest, potential or real, is likely to arise. Any financial, social, political or personal interest or activity which could give rise to such conflict should be declared to the editor.
23. Staff may only accept outside commissions, part-time employment or freelance work for other publications with the consent of the editor.
24. We report matters regarding ourselves and colleagues with the same vigour and candour as we would other institutions or individuals.
25. We are courteous in our dealings with the public. We are scrupulous about responding to invitations, and attend functions to which we accept invitations.