Ljubljana, 9 May 2002

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), agreed on the following recommendation for media in South East Europe:


A free and open media is essential to every society and acts as the guarantor of democracy, civil society and the rights upheld in customary international law.

Furthermore, the best means of safeguarding a free and open media is to strengthen editorial independence by allowing editors, journalists and other media professionals to work free of all forms of harassment and intimidation that undermine their right to seek, receive, impart, publish and distribute information and ideas.

In particular, SEEMO affirms that:

1. Economics and the Media

The most open and democratic societies are those that apply the least possible restrictions and regulations on the media and which encourage free competition, private ownership, as well as public service media;
Self-regulation is preferable to state regulation, with the exception of where questions of public ownership arise. All regulatory bodies shall be independent and held at arm’s length from the government;
Governments shall divest themselves of all state-owned media, including but not limited to broadcasting, and create in their place genuine public service media. This also means, that print media should not be in state or part-state ownership.
Licences for radio and television shall be granted after open and transparent competition with clear criteria;
The issue of media concentration and cross-ownership of media is a complex issue and globally there are different approaches that may each have their own individual benefits. Potential solutions should not rest solely on the size of the media environment or the number of media organisations, nor is it always true that media concentration has a detrimental impact on editorial values and the standards of journalism;
Government shall apply Value Added Tax (VAT) to print media, especially those governing countries aspiring to become EU members, at a reduced rate, or even at a zero-point rate.
Private news agencies shall be allowed to compete on level terms with similar government owned media. In the short-and-mid-term, governments should commit to divesting themselves of state news agencies; and
Equality between women and men is essential and there should be renewed efforts to end all forms of discrimination in all media workplaces;

2. Politics and the Media

There shall be no direct or indirect censorship of the press by governments, or related bodies;
Media shall have a right in law to protect their confidential sources. However, journalists who offer protection to their sources should respect this right even in the face of legal proceedings;
Governments shall create freedom of information acts that provide information to the media and the public in accordance with international standards. Central and local governments shall make available information that is in the public interest and do so within reasonable time limits;
Politicians shall recognise that, in accordance with Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and legal precedents set by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), politicians must accept a greater degree of criticism and be held to higher standards than those of ordinary citizens;
Governments shall carry out full, open and transparent investigations into cases of attacked and killed journalists, and end impunity by bringing to trial the perpetrators of these attacks;
SEEMO asks governments, if there are visa for citizens of one country, to issue free of charge multiple-entry visas for journalists. It is essential that every journalist, can receive a visa in a timely and unbureaucratic manner and without the undue burden of producing a variety of documents;
Regarding official secrets, governments shall create by law a defence of “acting in the public interest” regarding the disclosure of such information;
Media shall have full and open access to elections and electoral candidates; and
Government advertising shall be awarded to media organisations by an independent body, held at arm’s length from the government.

3. Media Freedom and Responsibility

All media shall be committed to fair, balanced and accurate journalism;
Professional training for journalists shall be the sole responsibility of editors and journalists; Where possible media companies should offer free professional courses to journalists, editors, managers and other staff members;
The media shall create their own codes of practice fair, balanced and accurate reporting, rectification of inaccurate information, and fostering a clear distinction between news reporting and comment, among others;
The media shall develop their own independent and voluntary Media Accountability Systems to regulate themselves;
Journalists and media organisations shall respect an individual’s right of privacy in accordance with international standards and legal precedent except where there is an overriding matter of public interest outweighing such considerations;
It should be the responsibility of every media organisation (company) and journalists to check their information.
Governments, and civil society should accept that press freedom exists not only for agreed speech, but also for speech considered offensive or shocking, provided that such speech falls within international standards and legal precedent;
News reporting is the sole responsibility of the media, but it should follow recognised codes of practice laid down by the profession, especially on contentious issues likely to cause hatred, racism or incite violence. In the modern media environment, editors should have particular regard to “global horizons” and give consideration to the likely impact of their work not just in their locality, but also around the world;
Notwithstanding the importance of editorial independence, editors and owners shall have the responsibility for informing their readers about the editorial principles and guidelines of their newspaper;
All minorities have a right to their own identity and culture and news reporting shall not discriminate against such groups. Publicly-owned broadcasters shall provide fair, balanced and accurate coverage of elections, while private broadcasters shall provide such coverage in accordance with their own editorial values and the agreed principles of independent regulatory bodies. Media organisations shall clearly distinguish between news reporting, on the one hand, and advertising, sponsorship or promotion, on the other; and News shall appear in media based on the free exercise of sound editorial values and not by virtue of cash payments or any other form of inducements, including gifts above a certain amount. Media organisations shall determine this amount in accordance with the relevant codes of practice on this issue.

Ljubljana, 9 May 2002

1. Truth: Journalists shall always strive to avoid publishing falsehood. Reporting shall be based on thoroughly researched material.

2. Accuracy: Journalists shall always strive to avoid suppressing relevant facts and avoid publishing misleading statements and hints.

3. Fairness: Journalists shall always strive to report events from all the relevant perspectives.

4. Protection of Privacy: Journalists shall not intrude into private spheres unless there is strong cause to believe that the findings could be in the public interest. Nonetheless, public figures, in particular those holding political office, should also be prepared to accept more media scrutiny than private personalities.

5. Libel and Defamation: Journalists shall respect every person’s honour and reputation. No one shall be considered guilty of an offence by media reports unless a court of law has ruled that person guilty of that same offence. However, libel and defamation, if not proven malicious in intent, should not be a criminal offence, and truth should be a defence.

6. Human Rights and Dignity: Journalists shall publish the truth whenever human rights are violated, regardless of the consequences. These issues override any other limitations on freedom of expression.

7. Editorial Independence: Editors and journalists should serve the public first. Information must be based on the interest of the public instead of on the interest of the disseminators.

8. News, Opinion and Advertisement: Editors should always strive to separate reporting news and facts from opinion pieces and both of these from advertisement.

9. Right of Reply: Anyone who feels damaged by reporting or published opinion shall have the right to respond and the possibility of having his/her response published in the forum where the allegations surfaced, as long as he or she can prove that the statement is false.

10. Confidentiality of Sources: The journalist shall observe professional secrecy regarding any source of information obtained in confidence. The journalist shall resist by all means giving up the names or identities of sources who wish to remain anonymous. The right of confidentiality of sources must be guaranteed by law.

11. Incitement to Violence and Hatred: Journalists shall avoid inflaming violence and hatred. Racism, hate speech, xenophobia, prejudice and religious, ethnic, cultural, sexist and political intolerance shall not be part of journalistic practice. The media shall not be part of discrimination on any of the aforementioned grounds.

12. In consequence of the above, the journalists of the region must discuss the creation of a much more detailed regional code of good journalistic practice in cooperation with international media organisations. SEEMO will co-ordinate this project.

Commentary on Internationally Acknowledged Standards of Journalism

Mass media incitement to violence and hatred on grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, culture, language, religion, sexual orientation or political opinion usually precedes or accompanies illegal violent acts targeting exactly the victims of the incitement. Due to the basic human right to freedom of expression as well as the dangers of arbitrary and politicised enforcement of hate speech laws:

Legislation limiting incitement to violence and hatred in the mass media should be minimised, as long as self-regulatory vigilance against incitement is being maximised.

The double benefit of such a two-pronged editorial strategy would be a more open society accompanied by less restrictive media laws. There is a multitude of self-regulatory mechanisms in the media. Claude-Jean Bertrand names around forty different kinds, which include in-house media ombudsmen, staff review groups, independent press councils, print media correction boxes, codes of ethics, letters to the editor, journalism reviews, etc. (Bertrand, Claude-Jean: M.A.S., Media Accountability Systems, unpublished manuscript, presented at the IPI Conference, “Media Credibility and Self-Regulation”, Vienna, 27 October, 1999) A wide approach taking several of these mechanisms into account appears to be able to deliver the best results. In Sweden, for instance, there are in-house ombudsmen and a public press ombudsman as well as a national press council, journalism reviews and many other major forms of media self-regulation. Partly as a result of this, the country’s media are able to operate successfully with very high degree of press freedom, almost completely unhindered by criminal law enforcement or by civil law suits. However, there is an additional problem: It is not enough that the media are balanced. The media must be credible, i.e. they must represent factual and politically neutral perspectives on public affairs. If the general public perceives the media as partisan, then their most important role, to inform the public, is lost. IPI and SEEMO therefore suggest a preliminary list of journalistic standards, the Declaration, to be endorsed, adhered to and upheld by the community of Editors, publishers, broadcasting directors and senior journalists in South East Europe.

APPENDIX: Reference to Various International Documents

1. Code of Conduct for Journalists:

adopted by 1954 World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ); amended by the 1986 IFJ World Congress

This international declaration is proclaimed as a standard of professional conduct for journalists engaged in gathering, transmitting, disseminating and commenting on news and information in describing events.

1. Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist

2. In pursuance of this duty, the journalist shall at all times defend the principles of freedom in the honest collection and publication of news, and of the right to fair comment and criticism.

3. The journalist shall report only in accordance with facts of which he/she knows the origin. The journalist shall not suppress essential information or falsify documents.

4. The journalist shall only use fair methods to obtain news, photographs and documents.

5. The journalist shall do the utmost to rectify any published information which is found to be harmfully inaccurate.

6. The journalist shall observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information obtained in confidence.

7. The journalist shall be alert to the danger of discrimination being furthered by media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discriminations based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national and social origins.

8. The journalist shall regard as grave professional offenses the following: plagiarism; malicious misinterpretation; calumny; libel; slander; unfounded accusations; acceptance of a bribe in any form in consideration of either publication or suppression.

9. Journalists worthy of the name shall deem it their duty to observe faithfully the principles stated above. Within the general law of each country the journalist shall recognise in matters of professional matters the jurisdiction of colleagues only, to the exclusion of any kind of interference by governments or others.


Prepared in 2001 by The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

In support of the objectives and with the desire to make a contribution to the preparations for the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, we: Reaffirm that the promotion of equality, and freedom from racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, are essential to the realisation of human rights and freedoms.Stress the fundamental importance of the right to freedom of expression, including of the media, for the personal development, dignity and fulfilment of every individual, for the promotion and protection of equality and democracy, for the enjoyment of other human rights and freedoms, and for the progress and welfare of society.Note with concern the prevalence of racism and discrimination, as well as the existence in many countries and regions of the world of a climate of intolerance, and the threat these pose to equality and full enjoyment of human rights and freedoms.Recognise the positive contribution the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, particularly by the media, and full respect for the right to freedom of information can make to the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.Recognise as harmful all forms of expression which incite or otherwise promote racial hatred, discrimination, violence and intolerance and note that crimes against humanity are often accompanied or preceded by these forms of expression.Are cognisant of the need to ensure a balance between efforts to combat racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, and protection of the right to freedom of expression.Reiterate the need to respect the editorial independence and autonomy of the media.Desire to make a contribution to the preparations for the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Adopt the following Joint Statement:

Promoting an optimal role for the media in the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance requires a comprehensive approach which includes an appropriate civil, criminal and administrative law framework, and which promotes tolerance, including through education, self-regulation and other positive measures.These efforts must be taken with the realisation that respect for freedom of expression and information ensures that all citizens have access to information which helps them form their opinions and challenges their views, and which they need to make decisions.

Civil, Criminal and Administrative Law Measures

Any civil, criminal or administrative law measures that constitute an interference with freedom of expression must be provided by law, serve a legitimate aim as set out in international law and be necessary to achieve that aim. This implies that any such measures are clearly and narrowly defined, are applied by a body which is independent of political, commercial or other unwarranted influences and in a manner which is neither arbitrary nor discriminatory, and are subject to adequate safeguards against abuse, including the right of access to an independent court or tribunal. If these safeguards are not in effect, there is a very real possibility of such measures being abused, particularly where respect for human rights and democracy is weak, and hate speech laws have in the past been used against those they should be protecting. In accordance with international and regional law, hate speech laws should, at a minimum, conform to the following:

· no one should be penalised for statements which are true;

· no one should be penalised for the dissemination of hate speech unless it has been shown that they did so with the intention of inciting discrimination, hostility or violence;

· the right of journalists to decide how best to communicate information and ideas to the public should be respected, particularly when they are reporting on racism and intolerance;

· no one should be subject to prior censorship; and

· any imposition of sanctions by courts should be in strict conformity with the principle of proportionality.

These standards should also apply to new communications technologies such as the Internet, which are of enormous value in promoting the right to freedom of expression and the free flow of information and ideas, particularly across frontiers and at the global level. Any restrictions on these new communications technologies should not:

· limit or restrict the free flow of information and ideas protected by the right to freedom of expression; or

· enable the authorities to interfere with the work of, or intimidate, human rights defenders. Defamation laws have in some cases been used to limit the right to freely identify and openly combat racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. To prevent this from happening, defamation laws should be brought into line with international standards on freedom of expression, in particular as outlined in our Joint Declaration of 30 November 2000.

Freedom of Information

The free flow of information and ideas is one of the most powerful ways of combating racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. There should be free access to information which exposes or otherwise helps to combat these problems, whether that information is held by public or private bodies, unless denial of access can be justified as being necessary to protect an overriding public interest. In addition, States should ensure that the public has adequate access to reliable information relating to racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance including, where necessary, through the collection and dissemination of such information by public authorities.

Promoting Tolerance

Media organisations, media enterprises and media workers – particularly public service broadcasters – have a moral and social obligation to make a positive contribution to the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. There are many ways in which these bodies and individuals can make such a contribution, including by:

· designing and delivering media training programmes which promote a better understanding of issues relating to racism and discrimination, and which foster a sense of the moral and social obligations of the media to promote tolerance and knowledge of the practical means by which this may be done;

· ensuring that effective ethical and self-regulatory codes of conduct prohibit the use of racist terms and prejudicial or derogatory stereotypes, and unnecessary references to race, religion and related attributes;

· taking measures to ensure that their workforce is diverse and reasonably representative of society as a whole; · taking care to report factually and in a sensitive manner on acts of racism or discrimination, while at the same time ensuring that they are brought to the attention of the public;

· ensuring that reporting in relation to specific communities promotes a better understanding of difference and at the same time reflects the perspectives of those communities and gives members of those communities a chance to be heard; and

· promoting a culture of tolerance and a better understanding of the evils of racism and discrimination.


3. Striking a Balance: Hate Speech, Freedom of Expression and Non-Discrimination©

ARTICLE 19 and Human Rights Centre, University of Essex, 1992, ISBN 1 870798 76 7

ARTICLE 19’s Position

As a campaigning organization, ARTICLE 19 consistently protests the widespread violations of the right to freedom of expression, and recognizes that governments and organizations can and do use freedom of speech to promote opinions which are antithetical to the common standards of dignity underpinning the human rights movement.ARTICLE 19 equally recognizes that laws, once on the statute book, can be and are used by governments to discriminate against minorities whether these be ethnic, religious or national. Even laws framed in a democracy, and however carefully drafted, may be used subsequently to suppress the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Such laws may be used to penalize members of oppressed communities who attempt to promote a counter viewpoint or to stifle speech advocating autonomy or other changes in government. It is, for example, discussed in this volume that laws against racist speech in South Africa have not been applied so as to ensure racial equality or to protect victims of racial abuse. In fact they were used and intended to be used as measures to stifle growing black opposition to an oppressive system; thus the government used the laws to punish the victims of its racist policies. Another contributor points out how a Soviet law which prohibited incitement to national racial hatred was regularly used to suppress dissident movements and human rights activists.The guarantors of democracy are many, varied and precious; one such guarantor is the free exchange of ideas and opinions. What must be preserved at all costs are both democratic discussion and the channels for its daily practice. Unfortunately, at times, democratic discussion including hate speech (which may involve insult, invective and deeply offensive racial slurs) necessarily involves trampling on the ideas and beliefs held precious by others. ARTICLE 19’s concern is that these slurs and insults be met at all times by counterclaims, arguments and discussion. To suppress such slurs is not to resolve the hatred but perhaps to drive it underground and thereby encourage acts of violence. We have been at pains to promote the view that speech should never be censored based on its content alone. Any restrictions on expression should be justified only be reference to its impact such as the likelihood of the expression leading directly to imminent lawless action. ARTICLE 19 acknowledges the wide gulf between condemning ideas and criminalizing them. More simply put, we, in common with several contributors to this work, do not believe that criminalizing expression could ever resolve the real problem of racism and racist discrimination. As one contributor has remarked, the law can play only a limited part in creating a humane and gentle society.Quite apart from the real threat to freedom of expression, anti-hate speech legislation is notoriously difficult to interpret and enforce. “One must be realistic in assessing the difficulties involved in regulating hate speech” as one contributor writes. Any legislation in this area highlights problems of definition and interpretation; concepts such as “ridicule”, “hostility” and even “hate” are open-ended, necessarily subjective and potentially dangerous in the exercise of power.


adopted by the Society of Professional Journalists September 21, 1996

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.

Seek Truth and Report It

Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. Journalists should:

· Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

· Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

· Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.

· Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.

· Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

· Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.

· Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.

· Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story.

· Never plagiarize.

· Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.

· Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others. Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.

· Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

· Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

· Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

· Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

· Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

Minimize Harm


Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. Journalists should:
Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects. Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief. Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance. Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy. Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes. Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges. Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

Act Independently

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know. Journalists should:Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility. Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity. Disclose unavoidable conflicts. Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage. Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Be Accountable

Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other. Journalists should:

Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct. Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly. Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media. Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others. Source: Moore, Roy L.: Mass Communication Law and Ethics, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: London, p. 599-601



Drawn up by the German Press Council in collaboration with the press associations and presented to Federal President Dr. Dr.Gustav W. Heinemann on 12 December 1973 in Bonn. Updated version, 23 February 1994. Again updated in 1999 (4.2.).

The freedom of the press guaranteed in the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany embraces independence and freedom of information, expression of opinion and criticism. Publishers, editors and journalists pursuing their profession must remain constantly aware of their responsibility towards the general public and their duty to uphold the prestige of the press.They must perform their publicistic duties to the best of their ability and belief and must not allow their work to be influenced by personal interests or extraneous motives. These publicistic principles are designed to preserve professional ethics; they do not constitute grounds for legal liability.

Respect for the truth and accurate informing of the general public are the overriding principles of the press.

1.1. Exclusive agreements

Public information about events or developments whose significance, import and implications make them of general interest and vital for the formation of political views and public opinion must not be restricted or impeded by exclusive agreements with informants or measures which screen such informants from the public domain. Anyone seeking to monopolize information prevents other members of the press acquiring important news and thus acts contrary to the principle of the freedom of the information.

1.2. Election campaign reporting

In the interests of journalistic fairness, freedom of information for the public and equality of opportunity for the democratic parties, newspapers and magazines covering election campaigns should also publish views which they do not share themselves. A similar policy should be adopted towards advertising matter, which is also covered by the fundamental precept of press freedom.

1.3. Press releases

Press releases issued by government agencies, political parties, associations,organizations or other representative bodies must be identified as such if they are published unedited.

News and information accepted for text or pictorial publication mustbe checked for accuracy with all the thoroughness circumstances permit.Its meaning must not be distorted of falsified by editing, headings or captions. The content of documents must be faithfully reproduced. Unconfirmed reports, rumours and assumptions must be identifiable as such.
Where a symbolic photograph is published, it must be made clear in the caption that it is not a documentary picture.

2.1. Opinion polls

The German Press Council recommends that news agencies, newspapers and magazines publishing findings by opinion poll institutes should indicate the number of people interviewed, the dates on which the poll was conducted and the identity of the poll’s sponsor.
Where no sponsor is involved, reports should point out that the data was collected at the instigation of the opinion poll institute itself.

2.2. Symbolic photographs

A non-documentary illustration – especially a photograph – which the casual reader might mistake for a documentary illustration must be marked accordingly. The following must therefore be clearly identified or described in captions or accompanying text to ensure that they are not misinterpreted even by a casual reader:
– substitute or indicative illustrations (same motif on different occasion,different motif on same occasion, etc)
– symbolic illustrations (reconstructed scenes, graphic representations,artists’ impressions of events described in text etc.)
– photomontages or other alterations.2

.3. Advance reviews

Newspapers and magazines publishing advance reviews which summarize the contents of forthcoming publications and may be disseminated by news agencies are legally and professionally responsible for ensuring the accuracy of those reviews. Omissions or additions must not distort the basic tenor of the previewed publication or permit incorrect conclusions which could be detrimental to the legitimate interests of third parties.

2.4. Interviews

An interview is always within the bounds of journalistic propriety if it is authorized by the interviewee or his proxy. Under circumstances of exceptional time pressure, it is also acceptable for comments to be published in unauthorized interview form as long as interviewees are awareof the intention to publish the wording or gist of their statements. Journalists should always identify themselves as such.
An interview orally or in written form is not mere news material buta work protected by copyright, especially if it contains critical appraisals or comments which lend it a personal stamp. When such interviews are reproduced in full or in part, the publishing newspaper or magazine must indicate thesource. Even where the essence of the thoughts expressed is paraphrased, journalistic propriety requires that the source should be indicated.
Where interviews are announced in resume form, it must be borne in mind that interviewees, as co-authors, are protected against distortions or detractions which could jeopardise their legitimate personal or copyright interests (see also 2.3 and 11.4).

2.5. Release deadlines

Release deadlines postponing the publication of specific news items are only justifiable if they are in the interests of objective and accuratereporting. Their observance is basically a matter for voluntary agreement between informants and media. Release deadlines should only be observed if there is a legitimate reason for doing so, as in the case of the text of a speech which has not yet been delivered, advance copies of corporate annual reports or information about events scheduled for a future date (meetings, resolutions, award ceremonies, etc.). Release deadlines imposed for mere advertising purposes should not be entertained.

2.6. Readers’ letters

(1) Periodicals should publish readers’ letters – of appropriate form and content – to give readers an opportunity to air their views and help form public opinion. In this way, a newspaper can promote discussion of its own editorial line, stimulate public debate and foster personal initiative.
(2) Correspondance addressed to publishers or editorial departments of a newspaper or magazine can be published as readers’ letters if it is evident from the form and content that this is in accordance with the sender’s wishes. The sender’s consent can be assumed if a letter refers to articles published by the newspaper or magazine concerned or to matters of general interest. Readers have no legal right to have their letters published.
(3) It is both proper and common practice to publish reader’s names along with their letters. By the very act of sending a letter, a reader gives tacit consent to the publication of his or her name.
(4) Only in exceptional cases can a different name be appended at the author’s request.
(5) The obligation of the press to take care not to publish material of punishable content also applies to readers’ letters. Under press laws,editors are co-responsible for readers’ letters which contain derogatory allegations about identifiable third part.
(6) The publication of fictitious readers’ letters represents deception of the public and is irreconcilable with the duty of the press. If there is any doubt about the origin of the letter, it is incumbent on the editor to check its authenticity.
(7) Where a reader’s letter contains factual claims about a third party,that party is entitled under press law to reply to the allegations in print.
(8) The right of the press to refuse to give evidence also extends to the writers of reader’s letters. A reader’s letter published in a periodical is classified as editorial matter and privileges its author to refuse to give evidence.
(9) The laws protecting the general right of the individual basically prohibit the alteration or abridgement of letters from named correspondents without their consent. This also applies to letters which do not bear an”individual stamp” and are thus not protected by copyright. Letters can be shortened only if the “Reader’s Letters” column contains a standard reference to the publisher’s right to print letters in edited form. If the author of a letter expressly forbids alteration or abridgement, the editorial department addressed must either comply with the writer’s wishes or refuse publication even if it has retained the edit reader’s letters.
(10) All reader’s letters arriving on an editor’s desk are to be treated as confidential documents. Under no circumstances may they be passed onto third parties.

Published news reports or assertions subsequently found to be incorrect must be promptly and appropriately corrected by the publication concerned.

3.1. Editorial corrections

An editorial correction must draw the reader’s attention to the fact that the preceding report was wholly or partially incorrect. It must therefore contain not only the correct facts but also a reference to the incorrect report in question. Publication of the correct facts is required even if the error has already been publicly acknowledged elsewhere.
The duty to rectify an incorrect report lies with the editorial department.This duty is not fulfilled by merely prompting and publishing readers’ letters.

Dishonest methods must not be employed to acquire news, information or pictures.

4.1. Research Research is a legitimate tool of publicistic work but must be conducted within the bounds of the constitution, the law and respect for human dignity.As a matter of principle, a researching journalist who makes untruthful statements about his identity or the identity of the publication he represents is guilty of conduct incompatible with the dignity and role of the press.
Covert research can be justified in individual cases if it brings to light information of special public interest which could not be obtained by other means.
In the case of accidents and disasters, the press shall bear in mind that rescue operations for victims and persons in jeopardy take precedence over the public’s right to be informed.
Nor does the public’s interest in being informed justify any unlawful acts committed by journalists to acquire news material.

4.2. Research vis-à-vis people requiring protection When conducting research vis-à-vis people requiring protection, particular reticence shall be called for. In particular, this concern people who are not in full possession of their mental or physical powers or who have been exposed to an extreme emotional situation, as well as children an young people. The limited strength of mind or the special situation of these people must not be deliberately exploited in order to gain information.


As a general principle, confidentiality agreed at briefings and background interviews must be observed.

5.1. Confidentiality

Where an informant agrees to supply information for publication only on condition that he or she remains unidentified and protected as a source,that stipulation shall be respected. A bond of confidentiality may only be broken where the information in question relates to the planning of a criminal act, in which case the journalist has a duty to report the matter to the authorities. Nor need confidentiality be observed if, after careful consideration of material and other interests, important reasons of state are deemed predominant. This situation can arise, in particular, if constitutional order is likely to be affected or endangered.
Reporting on plans and activities which are designated secret is permissable if, after careful consideration, the need to inform the public is found to outweigh the stated reasons for secrecy. This does not, however, justify the committing of unlawful acts to acquire information (see also 4.1).

All members of the press shall maintain professional confidentiality,excercise their right to refuse to give evidence and refrain from disclosing the identity of informants without their explicit consent.

6.1. Intelligence service

Any journalist or publisher engaging in intelligence work damages the credibility of the press and undermines the trust placed in the profession.

6.2. Separation of press and government duties

If a journalist enters the service of a government or government agency,all parties should take care to ensure that his or her press and official duties are kept strictly separate, especially where those official duties relate to media activity. The same applies to government officials who take up posts in journalism.
The clear separation – anchored in contracts of employment – is needed to avoid any semblance of divided loyalties or professional compromise which could damage the reputation and credibility of the media.

The responsibility of the press towards the general public requires that editorial publications are not influenced by the private and business interests of third parties or by the personal commercial interests of journalists. Publisher and editors must reject any attempts of this nature and make a clear distinction between editorial texts and publications for commercial reasons.
Advertising announcements, advertising photographs and advertising drawings should be identifiable as such.

7.1. Separation of editorial material and advertising matter

Advertisements resembling editorial material must be printed in a script, position and form which clearly distinguish them from the editorial contents of a newspaper or magazine so that they are identifiable as advertising even to the casual reader. They must be clearly marked with the word “Advertisement”.
If the sponsor is not clearly identified in the text of the advertisement, his name must be printed in clearly visible position. The same applies to advertising inserts and any other special publications financed by individuals,corporate bodies or institutions with a personal, commercial or political interest in their contents.
Where an insert or special publication contains articles of specialists who themselves have a vested interest in its dissemination, this must be indicated by references to their respective role. PR texts, which are intrinsically connected with advertising, must be labelled accordingly or laid out in a way which distinguishes them from the editorial contents of the host publication to ensure that they do not mislead the reader.

7.2. Surreptitious advertising in editorial matter

“The publication of editorial matter referring to companies or their product, services or activities must not overstep the boundary between editorial freedom and surreptitious advertising. This boundary is patently transgressed, in particular, where the information published does not cater to a legitimate public interest or the reader’s interest in being informed.
To maintain the credibility of the press as a source of information,editors must exercise special care when handling PR texts and phrasing editorial references. Special publications are subject to the same rules of editorial responsibility as all published editorial material.”

The press shall respect the private life and personal sphere of the individual. If a person’s private behaviour touches on public interests, however, it may be discussed in the press. In such cases, care must be taken to ensure that publication does not violate the personal rights of individuals who are not involved.

8.1. Publication of names/ photographs

As a general rule, there is no justification for publishing the names and photographs of offenders or victims in reports on accidents, criminal offences, criminal investigations or court proceedings. In all such cases,care must be taken to weigh up the public’s right to be informed and the personal rights of the individual concerned. Victims of accidents or crimeare entitled to special protection from disclosure of their names. The identity of the victim is irrelevant for understanding the events surrounding an accident or crime unless it involves a person of contemporary history or occurs in circumstances touching on issues of wider public interest.In the case of relatives who have nothing to do with the incident, respect for their legitimate personal rights must, as a matter of principle, take precedence over the public’s right to be informed. The names of individual sconcerned and their families should also be protected in portrayals of criminal cases published after the death of the persons involved. In these cases, it is necessary to check whether the incident can be consideredpart of criminal history and the perpetrator a person of contemporary history(see also 13.2 and 13.3).

8.2. Anniversaries

Before publishing details of anniversaries involving persons not normally in the public eye, editors must first check whether the individuals concerned agree to publication or wish to be protected from publicity.

8.3. Illness

Physical and mental illnesses and disorders fall within the confidential sphere of the person concerned. Out of respect of the privacy for that person and his family, the press should refrain from publishing names and photographs in such cases and avoid using disparaging names for medical conditions or medical institutions even if such names are found in commonparlance. Individuals – including persons of contemporary history – have a right to be protected from discriminating revelations both during their lifetime and after their death.

8.4. Suicide

Restraing must be exercised when reporting on cases of suicide. This applies particularly to the publication of names and detailed descriptions of circumstances. Exceptions are only justifiable where the incident inquestion is of contemporary historical significance and general public interest.

8.5. Political opposition and refugees

When reporting on countries where opposition to the government entails a risk to life and limb, journalists must always consider whether publishing names or photos could lead to the identification and persecution of the persons concerned. The same applies to reports on refugees. The publication of details identifying refugees, their escape routes and the manner in which they prepared and executed their escape might endanger the families and friends those refugees left behind or close escape channels for other refugees.

It is contrary to journalistic decorum to publish unfounded allegations,especially allegations of a defamatory nature.

The publication of text or pictures whose form or content could deeply offend the moral or religious sensibilities of a particular group of persons is incompatible with press responsibility.

Violence and brutality should not be sensationalized. Reporting must take due account of the need to protect young people.

11.1.Threats and acts of violence

When reporting on threats or acts of violence, the press must carefully weigh up the public’s interest in information against the interests of the victims and persons concerned. Reports on such events must be unbiased and authentic but the press must not become the tool of criminals or make any unauthorized attempt to mediate between criminals and police.

11.2. Accidents and disasters

The bounds of acceptable reporting on accidents and disasters are exceeded where the suffering of victims and the feelings of their faminies cease to be respected. Those hit by misfortune must not bebome victims for a second time because of the tactless media coverage.

11.3. Collaboration with authorities/ news blackouts

Without neglecting its fundamental duty to inform, the press should exercise restraint in reporting on threats of violence of any kind. Collaboration between media and police should only occur if the lives and health of victims or other persons involved can be protected or saved by journalists’ actions.Where requests are received from criminal prosecuton authorities for atemporary, complete or partial cessation of reporting in the interests of crime detection, the press will comply with such requests provided they are backed by cogent arguments and are not connected with news blackouts by official agencies.

11.4. Criminal memoirs

The publication of criminal memoirs can give alleged or convicted criminals a degree of publicity which is not warranted by the need to inform the public. The detailed description of criminal acts from the exclusive viewpoint of their perpetrator, who may still be in prison, is not compatible with the publicistic responsibilities of the press. Interviews must not be held with persons who are in the process of committing a crime.


There must be no discrimination against anyone on grounds of sex, race,ethnic background, religion, social group or nationality.

12.1. Crime reporting

In crime reports, the fact that a suspect or offender belongs to a particular religious, ethnic or other minority should only be mentioned if the information is important for understanding the reported events.

Reports on cases under criminal investigation or subjudice must be devoid of all preconceived opinion. Before and during such proceedings, therefore,the press shall avoid making any comment in the heading or body of a report which could be construed as partisan or prejudical to the issue. An accused person must not be presented as a guilty party before legal judgement has been pronounced. Wherever possible in the case of minor offences committedby juveniles, names and identifying photographs should not be published out of consideration for the young persons’ future. Court rulings should not be reported prior to their official announcement without sound legal justification.

13.1. Criminal investigations and court proceedings,prejudgement of issues and follow-up reporting

The purpose of reporting on official investigations and court proceedings is to provide the general public with a thorough and unbiased account ofthe commission, prosecution and judgement of crimes. Until a court pronounces judgement, an accused person is presumed innocent.
Portrayals and assertions which prejudge a legal issue are in violation of the constitutional rules protecting human dignity, which also applies in full to offenders.
In the wording of reports, a clear distinction must be made between suspicion and proven guilty.
The portrayal of a suspect as a guilty party prior to the pronouncement of judgement is also prohibited in cases where a confession has been made.
Even if the identity of the person responsible for a crime is obvious to the general public, the person concerned must not be presented as the guilty party until a court verdict is announced.
Where the press reports on an appealable conviction and names or identifies the person concerned to a wide readership, it must also report on any subsequent appeal resulting in final acquittal or a significant quashing of charges, provided this does not conflict with the legitimate interests of the person concerned. This recommendation also applies to reports on criminal investigations which are subsequently discontinued.
Critical reports and commentaries on legal proceedings should be clearly distinguished from trial reports.

13.2. Publication of names and photographs of suspects,offenders and victims

When publishing names and photographs of suspects, offenders, victims and other persons affected by a crime, great care must be taken in weighing up the public’s interest and the personal rights of the individuals concerned. Legitimate public interest, however, does not justify sensationalism.
The publication of the full names and/or photographs of suspects charged with a capital offence is only justified if this is in the interests ofcrime detection and the requirements for issuing a warrant of arrest are satisfied.
In any case where there are indications that the suspect may not be guilty, names and photographs should not be published.
As a matter of principle, it is not permissible to publish names and photographs of relatives or other affected persons who have nothing to do with a crime.
In the interests of resocialization, names and photographs must not appear in reports published after the conclusion of criminal proceedings(see also8.1).

13.3. Persons of contemporary history

Certain exceptions to the principles stated at 13.2. apply in the case of persons of contemporary history – including public office-holders and individuals with a public mandate – who are suspected, accused or convicted of an offence.
In the case of persons in public office or with a public mandate, the publication of names and photographs is admissible if there is a connection between their office or mandate and the offence in question.
In the case of persons of contemporary history who do not hold a public office or mandate, the publication of names and photographs may be justified if the offence with which they are charged is in contradiction to their public image.

13.4. Juvenile crime

When reporting on juvenile crime and juvenile court proceedings, the press should exercise restraint out of consideration for the future of the young people concerned. This recommendation also applies to reports on juvenile victims of crime.
As a general tule, there is no objection to the publication of photographs and names of missing young persons. These should only be published, however,with the agreement of the relevant authorities.

In reports on medical issues, care must be taken to avoid undue sensationalism which could arouse baseless fears or hopes in the reader. Early research findings should not be presented as though they were conclusive or almost conclusive.

14.1. Medical or pharmaceutical research

In reporting on alleged successes or failures of medical or pharmaceutical research aimed at controlling disease, the press exercise circumspection and responsibility. In both text and presentation, care must be taken to ensure that such reports do not convey a distorted image of the actual state of medical research and that undue hopes of a cure in the foreseeable future are not aroused in the sick and their families. Conversely, care must be taken to ensure that victims of disease are not disconcerted and the possible success of therapeutic measures called into question by criticalor one-sided reports on controversial views.

The acceptance or granting of any kind of privilege which could impinge on publishing or editorial discretion is not compatible with the concept of a respectable, independent and responsible press. Anyone accepting bribes for the dissemination or suppression of news is guilty of dishonourable and unprofessional conduct.

15.1. Invitations and gifts Publishing and journalistic discretion can be impaired if editors and editorial staff accept invitations or gifts whose values exceeds the bounds of social convetion and professional etiquette.

(See also German Press Council statement of 21 February 1961 calling upon all press and business associations to take appropriate steps to uphold this principle. See corresponding agreements between the German Journalists’ Associationand the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers of 17 October1961 and the association of German Magazine Publishers of 9 January 1961.)

In the interests of fair reporting, public reprimands by the German Press Council should normally be published in the publication concerned.

16.1. Publication of reprimands

The publication concerned must ensure that:
the reader is informed of the circumstances which gave rise to the reprimand and the publicistic principle they violated.



Ratified by the Press Complaints Commission – 26th November 1997.


All members of the press have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. This code sets the benchmarks for those standards. It both protects the rights of the individual and upholds the public’s right to know.
The code is the cornerstone of the system of self-regulation to which the industry has made a binding commitment. Editors and publishers must ensure that the code is observed rigorously not only by their staff but also by anyone who contributes to their publications.
It is essential to the workings of an agreed code that it be honoured not only to the letter but in the full spirit. The code should not be interpreted so narrowly as to compromise its commitment to respect the rights of the individual, nor so broadly that it prevents publication in the public interest.
It is the responsibility of editors to co-operate with the PCC as swiftly as possible in the resolution of complaints.
Any publication which is criticised by the PCC. under one of the following clauses must print the adjudication which follows in full and with due prominence 1. The public interest There may be exceptions to the clauses marked * where they can be demonstrated to be in the public interest. i. The public interest includes:
a. Detecting or exposing crime or a serious misdemeanour.

b. Protecting public health and safety.

c. Preventing the public from being misled by some statement or action of an individual or organisation.

ii. In any case where the public interest is invoked, the Press Complaints Commission will require a full explanation by the editor demonstrating how the public interest was served. iii. In cases involving children, editors must demonstrate an exceptional public interest to over-ride the normally paramount interests of the child.

2. Accuracy
i. Newspapers and periodicals should take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted material including pictures. ii. Whenever it is recognised that a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report has been published, it should be corrected promptly and with due prominence. iii. An apology must be published whenever appropriate. iv. Newspapers, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact v. A newspaper or periodical must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party.

3. Opportunity to reply
i. A fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies must be given to individuals or organisations when reasonably called for.

4. Privacy*
i. Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence. A publication will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent

ii. The use of long lens photography to take pictures of people in private places without their consent is unacceptable.

iii. Note – Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

5. Harassment*

i. Journalists and photographers must neither obtain nor seek to obtain information or pictures through intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit

ii. They must not photograph individuals in private places (as defined by the note to clause 3) without their consent; must not persist in telephoning, questioning, pursuing or photographing individuals after having been asked to desist; must not remain on their property after having been asked to leave and must not follow them.

iii. Editors must ensure that those working for them comply with these requirements and must not publish material from other sources which does not meet these requirements.

6. Intrusion into grief or shock

i. In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries should be carried out and approaches made with sympathy and discretion. Publication must be handled sensitively at such times but this should not be interpreted as restricting the right to report judicial proceedings.

7. Children*
i. Young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion. ii. Journalists must not interview or photograph a child under the age of 16 on subjects involving the welfare of the child or any other child in the absence of or without the consent of a parent or other adult who is responsible for the children. iii. Pupils must not be approached or photographed while at school without the permission of the school authorities. iv. There must be no payment to minors for material involving the welfare of children nor payments to parents or guardians for material about their children or wards unless it is demonstrably in the child’s interest.

v. Where material about the private life of a child is published, there must be justification for publication other than the fame, notoriety or position of his or her parents or guardian.

8. Children in sex cases
i. The press must not, even where the law does not prohibit it, identify children under the age of 16 who are involved in cases concerning sexual offences, whether as victims or as witnesses. ii. In any press report of a case involving a sexual offence against a child. iii. The child must not be identified. iv. the adult may be identified. v. The word “incest” must not be used where a child victim might be identified. vi. Care must be taken that nothing in the report implies the relationship between the accused and the child.

9. Listening Devices*
i. Journalists must not obtain or publish material obtained by using clandestine listening devices or by intercepting private telephone conversations.

10. Hospitals*
i. Journalists or photographers making enquiries at hospitals or similar institutions should identify themselves to a responsible executive and obtain permission before entering non-public areas. ii. The restrictions on intruding into privacy are particularly relevant to enquiries about individuals in hospitals or similar institutions.

11. Innocent relatives and friends*
i. The press must avoid identifying relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime without their consent.

12. Misrepresentation*
i. Journalists must not generally obtain or seek to obtain information or pictures through misrepresentation or subterfuge. ii. Documents or photographs should be removed only with the consent of the owner. iii. Subterfuge can be justified only in the public interest and only when material cannot be obtained by any other means.

13. Victims of sexual assault
i. The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there is adequate justification and, by law, they are free to do so.

14. Discrimination
i. The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to a person’s race, colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. ii. It must avoid publishing details of a person’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability unless these are directly relevant to the story.

15. Financial journalism
i. Even where the law does not prohibit it, journalists must not use for their own profit financial information they receive in advance of its general publication, nor should they pass such information to others. ii. They must not write about shares or securities in whose performance they know that they or their close families have a significant financial interest without disclosing the interest to the editor or financial editor. iii. 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.

16. Confidential sources
i. Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.

17. Payment for articles*
i. Payment or offers of payment for stories or information must not be made directly or through agents to witnesses or potential witnesses in current criminal proceedings except where the material concerned ought to be published in the public interest and there is an overriding need to make or promise to make a payment for this to be done. Journalists must take every possible step to ensure that no financial dealings have influence on the evidence that those witnesses may give.

(An editor authorising such a payment must be prepared to demonstrate that there is a legitimate public interest at stake involving matters that the public has a right to know. The payment or, where accepted, the offer of payment to any witness who is actually cited to give evidence should be disclosed to the prosecution and the defence and the witness should be advised of this).
ii. Payment or offers of payment for stories, pictures or information, must not be made directly or through agents to convicted or confessed criminals or to their associates – who may include family, friends and colleagues – except where the material concerned ought to be published in the public interest and payment is necessary for this to be done.


Ljubljana, 9 May 2002

Editors-in-Chief, Publishers, Media Managers, Directors of Media Institutes and Leading Journalists in South East Europe, attending the regional SEEMO (South East Europe Media Organisation) Meeting and IPI (International Press Institute) World Congress, agreed to appeal to the governments in the region to take the necessary measures to facilitate the free flow of information, people and ideas across national borders within South East Europe (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Republic of Macedonia – FYROM, Moldova, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro / Kosovo, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine). We are requesting:

to allow the free circulation of all printed media, without obstruction of the boarder authorities (police, customer) within South East Europe;
to make borders as much as possible open for free exchange of ideas and information;
to allow journalists to exercise their profession without hindrance by ensuring that if there is a need to obtain visas, these are provided rapidly, free of charge and without bureaucratic interference.