USA – Radio and Television News Directors Association (1973)

RTNDA Code of Broadcast News Ethics, adopted 2 January 2 1966 and amended 13 October 1973.

The members of the Radio-Television News Directors Association agree that their prime responsibility as journalists-and that of the broadcasting industry as the collective sponsor of news broadcasting-is to provide to the public they serve a news service as accurate, full and prompt as human integrity and devotion can devise. To that end, they declare their acceptance of the standards of practice here set forth, and their solemn intent to honour them to the limits of their ability.

Article 1. The primary purpose of broadcast journalists-to inform the public of events of importance and appropriate interest in a manner that is accurate and comprehensive-shall override all other purposes.

Article 2. Broadcast news presentations shall be designed not only to offer timely and accurate information, but also to present it in the light of relevant circumstances that give it meaning and perspective.

This standard means that news reports, when clarity demands it, will be laid against pertinent factual background; that factors such as race, creed, nationality or prior status will be reported only when they are relevant; that comment or subjective content will be properly identified; and that errors in fact will be promptly acknowledged and corrected.

Article 3. Broadcast journalists shall seek to select material for newscasts solely on their evaluation of its merits as news.

This standard means that news will be selected on the criteria of significance, community and regional relevance, appropriate human interest and service to defined audiences. It excludes sensationalism or misleading emphasis in any form; subservience to external or “interested” efforts to influence news selection and presentation, whether from within the broadcasting industry or from without it. It requires that such terms as “bulletin” and “flash” can be used only when the character of the news justifies them; that bombastic or misleading descriptions of newsroom facilities and personnel be rejected, along with undue use of sound and visual effects; and that promotional or publicity material be sharply scrutinised before use and identified by source or otherwise when broadcast.

Article 4. Broadcast journalists shall at all items display humane respect for the dignity, privacy and the well-being of persons with whom the news deals.

Article 5. Broadcast journalists shall govern their personal lives and such non-professional associations as may impinge on their professional activities in a manner that will protect them from conflict of interest, real or apparent.

Article 6. Broadcast journalists shall seek to actively present all news, the knowledge of which will serve the public interest, no matter what selfish, uninformed or correct efforts to colour it, withhold it or prevent its presentation. They shall make constant efforts to open doors closed to the reporting of public proceedings with tools appropriate to broadcasting (including cameras and recorders), consistent with the public interest. They acknowledge the journalist’s ethic of protection of confidential information and sources and urge unswerving observation of it except in instances in which it would clearly and unmistakably defy the public interest.

Article 7. Broadcast journalists recognise the responsibility borne by broadcasting for informed analysis, comment and editorial opinion on public events and issues. They accept the obligation of broadcasters for the presentation of such matters by individuals whose competence, experience and judgement qualify them for it.

Article 8. In court, broadcast journalists shall conduct themselves with dignity, whether the court is in or out of session. They shall keep broadcast equipment as unobtrusive and silent as possible. Where court facilities are inadequate, pool broadcasts should be arranged.

Article 9. In reporting matters that are or may be litigated, the journalist shall avoid practices which would tend to interfere with the right of an individual to a fair trial.

Article 10. Broadcast journalists shall not misrepresent the source of any broadcast news material.

Article 11. Broadcast journalists shall actively censure and seek to prevent violations of these standards, and shall actively encourage their observance by all journalists, whether of the Radio-Television News Directors Association or not.

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