Code of ethics for the press, radio and television, adopted by the Co-operation Council of the Press in September 1995, originally in 1978.
The Co-operation council consists of Publicistklubben (Publishers’ Club), Svenska Journalistfˆrbundet (Swedish Journalists’ Association), Svenska Tidningsutgivarefˆreningen (Swedish Newspaper publishers’ Union), Sveriges Radio (Sweden’s radio), Sveriges Television (Sweden’s Television), Utbildningsradion (Educational radio) and Radioutgivarefˆrening (Radio broadcasters’ Union). (Parts II and III translated from Swedish to English by Tiina Laitila.)
The press, radio and television shall have the greatest possible degree of freedom, within the framework of the Freedom of the Press Act and the constitutional right of freedom of speech, in order to be able to serve as disseminators of news and as scrutinisers of public affairs. In this connection, however, it is important that the individual is protected from unwarranted suffering as a result of publicity.
Ethics does not consist primarily in the application of a formal set of rules but in the maintenance of a responsible attitude in the exercise of journalistic duties. The code of ethics for the press, radio and television is intended to provide support for this attitude.
I. Rules on publicity
Provide accurate news
1. The role played by the mass media in society and the confidence of the general public in these media call for accurate and objective news reports.
2. Be critical of news sources. Check facts as carefully as possible in the light of the circumstances even if they have been published earlier. Allow the reader/ listener/ viewer the possibility of distinguishing between statements of fact and comments.
3. Newsbills, headlines and introductory sections must be supported by the text.
4. Make sure of the authenticity of pictures. See to it that pictures and graphical illustrations are correct and are not used in a misleading way.
Treat rebuttals generously
5. Factual errors are to be corrected when called for. Anyone wishing to rebut a statement shall, if this is legitimate, be given the opportunity to do so. Corrections and rebuttals shall be published promptly in appropriate form, in such a way that they will come to the attention of those who received the original information. It should be noted that a rebuttal does not always call for an editorial comment.
6. Publish without delay statements of censure issued by the Swedish Press Council in cases concerning your own newspaper.
Respect individual privacy
7. Be careful in giving publicity where it can trespass upon an individual’s privacy. Refrain from such action unless it is obviously in the public interest.
8. Exercise great caution in publishing notices concerning suicide and attempted suicide, particularly out of consideration for the feelings of relatives and in view of what has been said above concerning the privacy of the individual.
9. Always show the greatest possible consideration for victims of crime and accidents. Carefully check names and pictures for publication out of consideration for the victims and their relatives.
10. Do not emphasise race, sex, nationality, occupation, political affiliation or religious persuasion in the case of the persons concerned if such particulars are not important in the context or are disparaging.
Exercise care in the use of pictures
11. Where applicable, these rules are also apply to pictures.
12. Making a montage, retouching a picture by an electronic method, or formulating a picture caption should not be performed in such a way as to mislead or deceive the reader. Always state, close to the picture, whether it has been altered by montage or retouching. This also applies to such material when it is filed.
Listen to each side
13. Endeavour to give people, who are criticised in a factual report the opportunity, at the same time, to reply to the criticism. Endeavour also to state the views of all parties involved. Bear in mind that the sole objective of reports of various kinds may be to cause harm to the subjects of the reports.
14. Remember that, in the eyes of the law, a person suspected of an offence is always presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty. The final outcome of a case that is described should be reported.
Be cautious in publishing names
15. Give careful thought to the harmful consequences that might follow for persons if their names are published. Refrain from publishing names unless it is obviously in the public interest.
16. If a person’s name is not to be stated, refrain from publishing a picture or particulars of occupation, title, age, nationality, sex, etc., which would enable the person in question to be identified.
17. Bear in mind that the entire responsibility for publication of names and pictures rests with the publisher of the material.
Comments on Part I
When the press is concerned, The Swedish Press Council is primarily responsible for interpreting the concept of “good journalistic practice”; in matters not referred to the Press Council, the Press Ombudsman has this responsibility. It should be noted that the Press Council and the Press Ombudsman do not deal with cases of departure from the rules applying to radio or television programmes. The Broadcasting Commission, appointed by the Swedish government, is responsible for scrutinising such programmes. In addition to the criticised newspaper, the Press Council’s ruling, in the form of a brief factual report, is published in Pressens Tidning (Press Journal) and in Journalisten (The Journalist). A subscription for Press Council decisions may be placed with the Swedish Newspaper Publishers Association Tidningsutgivarna).
Rulings given by the Broadcasting Commission may be requested from the Commission Secretariat.
II. Professional rules
The integrity of the journalist
1. Do not accept an assignment from anyone outside the editorial staff leaders.
2. Do not accept an assignment or an invitation, a free trip or any other benefit neither in nor outside your job, that could bring into question your status as a free and independent journalist.
3. Do not use your position as a journalist in order to exert pressure for your own or someone else’s profit or in order to acquire personal benefits.
4. Do not utilise for your own or someone else’s profit unpublished news concerning economic conditions or measures by state, municipalities, organizations, companies or private persons.
5. Bear in mind the provision in the Collective Agreement for Journalists according to which a journalist can not be ordered to write against his/her conviction or to carry out humiliating assignments.
Obtaining of material
6. Comply with reasonable wishes from the persons interviewed to find out beforehand how and where their statements will be published.
7. Show particular consideration with people not used of being interviewed. Inform him/ her about whether the conversation is intended for publication or only for information.
8. Do not falsify interviews or pictures.
9. Show consideration in taking photographs and in procuring them, especially in connection with accidents and crimes.
10. Do not give in to outside pressure intending to prevent or restrict justified publishing.
11. Observe copyright as well as quotation rules and rights to photographs.
12. Indicate the source when the published material is mainly based in information from other parts.
Time of press releases
13. Respect the agreed times of releases.
III. Rules against editorial advertising
Protect the trust towards the press, radio and TV as well as their integrity. Do not let the general public suspect that anybody might improperly influence the content of a program/ (text). Therefore do not publish or present among editorial material something that is not motivated by journalism. This does not mean that material published must not have an advertising purpose, but it must have news or information qualities or be motivated by entertaining or artistic reasons.
1. Frame the material only in accordance to journalistic and/ or program-related decisions. The intention must never be to give publicity to any products or services; neither can the presentation of the material be such the audience thinks it is commercial by nature. Ensure that the commercial can not be confused with editorial material even by “a quick look”.
2. Dismiss ideas and proposals for articles and programs if they include a favour in return containing advertising in any form. As a principle, also dismiss offers of free or heavily subsidised trips. Dismiss gifts and other benefits. Never promise beforehand that you are going to publish something.
3. Consumer-informing articles and programmes put particularly heavy demands on journalistic integrity. Therefore show how the choice of the products/ services in the article/ programme has been made. Tell clearly how the products/ services have been compared or tested. Be particularly careful and critical when dealing with reviews of products. Do not inform one-sidedly only about limited groups of products or only about one producer of products/ services, warehouses, shops, restaurants etc.
4. Put information about theatre shows, concerts, films, art exhibitions, sport events and the like through a normal journalistic evaluation to determine the value of the news. Look critically through the material and make sure that it is given in a journalistically motivated form. Considerate carefully if information and pictures about new companies and shops or the like have journalistic news value.
5. Only mention companies and organizations that donate or deliver prizes, or take part in any other way, for example, as a sponsor at parties, competitions, carnivals, charity balls and such, if there are very strong journalistic reasons to do so. Concerning such sponsoring that is referred to in article 6 in Radio law as well as in broadcasting companies treaties with the state, those rules apply.
6. Do not publish/ present on editorial space information about the rights and obligations of individuals and other public messages that state or municipal authorities demand or wish to get published. Broadcasting companies are subject to the rules on authorities messages that may exist in treaties between the broadcasting company and the state and in internal instructions in connection to that. Reject from the editorial space the facts about companies and organizations, such as opening hours, product demonstrations, prize competitions, or other arrangements that are not journalistically motivated.
7. Newspapers’ / Broadcasting companies’ advertisements for their own products and services as well as own arrangements shall be presented as advertisements.
8. When using material (cars, boats, clothing, furniture, kitchen equipment etc.) for photographic purposes, the names of the producers, the re-sellers or retailers should be mentioned only if there are journalistic motives for that.
9. Editorial special pages and supplements in newspapers must be journalistically motivated. Overviews such as “jobmarket”, “boatmarket”, “cottagemarket”, “carmarket” and likewise, which might be considered as advertisements or which imply that the products and services are offered for sale, must be presented as commercials.
10. Lists of entrepreneurs and suppliers at building companies presented in the newspaper must take a form of an advertisement.