Code of Ethical Practice for media managers and editors published by the Media Council of Tanzania.
RATIONALE FOR MEDIA CODES OF ETHICS PRACTICE
1.0 Media practice is a profession with various trades that use skills, knowledge and orientation to serve society as expected, and hence the need for ethical practice. Ethics is based on the assumption that our society has morals. Morality is behavior and actions that are guided by generally accepted human values and responsibilities. Media content is determined by individuals, but guided by their perception of what is right or wrong given the circumstances. Social, political and economic forces that are operating at that material time heavily influence their decisions. The value and decisions of media workers are based on life experiences, education and interactions with others in various social groups. These factors generate the guidelines we call codes of ethics. These codes do set the minimum standards that are acceptable in society in performing a certain task. It is against these standards that conduct can be measured and evaluated.
2.0 Standards are set internally. In a democracy and self-managing social sector, standards are not described by courts, executive decrees or the legislature (laws/acts). That is why in most countries there are bodies formed by the industry and independent of government that set-up the codes and administer them. In non-democratic states governments set up these bodies. In Tanzania, the media refused to have a body imposed on them and instead the industry established the Media Council of Tanzania in 1995 and mandated it to enforce the code(s) of ethics, with the following aims:
a) To protect the public which consumes the services and products of the media from any irresponsible, anti social or propaganda use of the media;
b) To enable the public enjoy their basic rights especially that of information;
c) To protect media practitioners from being forced to act in ways that are irresponsible, humiliating or in any manner contrary to the dictates of their consciences;
d) To keep open all channels of communication inside the industry and within the public sphere;
e) To ensure that the public gets information needed in self-governing society; and to ensure that ordinary people can always register their opinion through the media;
f) To help practitioners understand principles and values that give the profession credibility;
Media managers/editors are persons who realize the corporate purposes as defined by owners/publishers. By the nature of their placement within the organizational hierarchy managers/editors are synonymous with ownership and bear wholly the publishing responsibility. Managers/editors are first and foremost-accomplished professionals. Both the owner/publisher and the registering/licensing authority must be satisfied with the credentials of the manager/editor during and after establishment, be it in print or broadcast media.
2.0 Ethical Practice
The manager/editor shall ensure that:
2.1 All workers know clearly the organization’s objectives and how best to achieve them.
2.2 Motivate personnel and work out incentives for job satisfaction
2.3 Remunerate fairly all work done by employees
2.4 Ensure that all employees are given an opportunity to enhance their professional competence through further training.
2.5 Ensure that media output is distinguishable between factual and commentary; that only proven and accurate stories are published and that rumours are discouraged.
2.6 Ensure that information published does not incite discrimination, sexism, racism or violence.
2.7 Ensure that libel is avoided, and that the honour of a person is respected.
2.8 Ensure that all points of view are exposed by seeking out the main parties in a story. When a party refuses to co-operate, the organ should say so.
2.9 Inform all editorial staff of important decisions that may influence the life of the enterprise.
2.10 Ensure that the organ reports fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party.
2.11 Ensure that in times of grief or shock inquiries are made with sympathy; and editing is carried out with discretion so that the concerned are not made to relive their agony.
2.12 Ensure that children and minors are not identified in sexual or any other criminal offence.
2.13 Ensure that material that would identify victims of sexual assault is not published.
2.14 Ensure that derogative reference to a person’s creed or racial origin is not made.
2.15 Ensure that neither him nor her, nor any of the employees take gifts or bribes in cash or kind in the course of duty or off-duty.
2.16 Examine offers, sponsorships and attractive contracts and agreements to ensure they have no attachments that would compromise the performance of the organization.
2.17 Not for any reason other than public interest, suppress useful information.
2.18 Not entertain favouritism and greed.
2.19 Ensure that the public is provided with un-biased, accurate balanced and comprehensive information/news.
2.20 Not as a rule, disclose sources of information given in confidence.
2.21 Avoid violation of individual privacy and human dignity, unless necessitated by public interest.
2.22 Not to use plagiarized material without giving due credit to the source.
2.23 Not open to ridicule any underprivileged persons or communities.
2.24 Guard against highlighting incidents out of context, either in headlines or reportage/narration.
2.25 Correct promptly with equal prominence and give right of reply whenever a wrong story has been discovered.
2.26 Ensure that information is not gathered clandestinely or by intercepting personal communication channels.
2.27 Ensure that reporters are not members of organizations that they cover.
2.28 Ensure that material likely to cause public disorder is avoided.
2.29 Ensure that care has been taken when reporting matters likely to affect national security.
2.30 Ensure that whenever possible photographs of the dead are published with the consent of the relatives of the deceased.