Charter of Journalism Ethics
The press exists for citizens and the trust of the citizens is its most valuable asset. A free and responsible press is required to fulfill the citizens’ right to know and to realize democracy. The press advocates for human rights and pursues justice and peace within the community. The press works to help citizens make fair judgments by seeking accurate and fair reporting and unite the community by representing diverse voices. Moreover, the press contributes to democracy and social justice by serving as a watchdog and criticizing the government. As all forms of journalism start to flourish in society, the world now demands an ethical press that follows the basic principles of journalism and fulfills its duty. To this end, we hereby declare the core principles of ethical journalism for all journalists, regardless of which field or medium they work in.
- Pursue the truth
Ethical journalism reports the truth. The pursuit of the truth is the purpose of journalism. In an age when people deny facts and accept only what they want to believe as truth, the importance of this pursuit is greater than ever. Ethical journalism delivers accurate information in a comprehensive and fully contextual manner. It prioritizes accuracy over speed. It verifies all information diligently and makes reports based on clear evidence. It quotes sources accurately and faithfully to the source’s intention. In revealing the truth, a journalist’s attitude remains courageous and diligent. They carry out reporting according to conscience, separating facts from opinions, and do not obscure the truth with the intent or the manner of writing.
- Report transparently and be accountable
Ethical journalism is as transparent as possible about sources and the sourcing process, and responds to issues raised with accountability. Except in cases when sources must be protected, ethical journalists clearly disclose their sources of information, so that the readers and viewers can judge the information for themselves. They respond to questions and criticisms about their reporting with an open attitude. They correct errors quickly and openly. Any third-party support, sponsorship, or possible conflicts of interest are honestly disclosed. The burden of transparency and accountability is not solely that of the journalist, but it is shared with their news organization.
- Respect human rights and minimize harm
Ethical journalism respects the subjects it reports on. Ethical journalism reports valuable information for the public interest and does not violate human rights or dignity in this process. It pays extra attention to proper procedures and acts with extra sensitivity when reporting on those who lack the ability to consent or are victims. Even when information was legally obtained, it must be reported with ethical justification. Ethical journalists take extra precautions when reporting on people who are not public figures. They pursue a balance between the public’s right to know and a suspect’s right to a fair trial.
- Always report fairly
Ethical journalism reports fairly and is not biased towards a certain group, authority, or opinion. It reports on important social issues and conflicts using a balanced perspective by including diverse opinions. Ethical journalism ensures balanced reporting by giving due weight to diverse opinions that exist in society while fulfilling their role in showing what is right and wrong. Ethical journalism does not select or exaggerate views or facts that benefit a particular political group. It protects the rights of those adversely affected by their reporting to respond or defend themselves.
- Report independently
Ethical journalism stands independent of any form of power or influence, laying a foundation for autonomous and professional decisions to be made from the citizens’ standpoint and in the interests of the public. They are guardians of freedom of speech and autonomy of reporting, warding off undue interference or pressure from inside and outside the newsroom. The principle of editorial independence from management is a prerequisite for a newsroom’s independent voice, in order to keep any form of power in check. Ethical journalism humbly accepts opinions and criticisms from readers and viewers, and reflects them in its reporting practices, but are unperturbed by any collective intentions and actions to frustrate any sound and critical reporting. They do not let commercial interests influence reporting practices.
- Provide an open forum to resolve conflict and restore trust
Ethical journalism provides diverse groups of people with a public platform by allowing them to express their opinions, communicate with each other and reach common ground. It aims to ensure that diverse people are able to join the debate and fairly deliver and exchange their opinions. These open forums serve as a middle ground for those with conflicting viewpoints and arguments, allowing society to overcome social conflict and tackle social differences. Ethical journalism creates social trust and instills the belief that a community runs on mutual trust. It refrains from taking sides with a certain group, or excessively attacking opponents and amplifying conflict through exaggerated reporting. However, ethical journalism also combats attempts to deny known historical facts, doing so with criticism based on an understanding of historical background and context.
- Respect diversity and oppose discrimination
Ethical journalism works to reduce discrimination and prejudice, to create a world where everyone is respected. It recognizes and respects a variety of social values and cultural differences. It monitors to ensure that no one is unfairly discriminated against on the basis of gender, disability, religion, age, place of origin, race, sexual orientation, etc. Ethical journalism discovers and reports on the structures that create prejudice and discrimination, spreading awareness of them as social agenda. It refrains from expressions that promote stereotypes and prejudices, including derogatory expressions regarding specific classes or places, sexist expressions, and expressions that sexually objectify people.
- Act with dignity and be wary of conflicts of interest
Ethical journalism maintains a high degree of ethics, does not abuse the power of the press in private, and guards against and prevents conflicts of interest. Moral and dignified conduct by journalists and
media companies gives legitimacy to their activities of monitoring and criticizing those in power and society at large. Ethical journalism uses fair methods in the process of reporting and is respectful to sources. Ethical media use correct and dignified language. In engaging with sources, ethical journalism clearly distinguishes between the public and private spheres, and maintains an appropriate distance. Ethical journalists do not seek financial or personal gain by using information learned during the reporting process. Ethical journalists do not receive benefits and conveniences from sources without justifiable reasons, nor do they exercise unreasonable solicitation or pressure.
- Use technology to expand opportunities for Journalism
Ethical journalism actively accepts the changes that digital technology has on media activities, and strives to ensure that such technology becomes beneficial to readers and citizens throughout the process of news production, distribution, and consumption. Ethical journalism also expands communication with citizens through participation and sharing useful information, and collaborates with the audience to produce news and develop content. When reporting on information gathered from the internet and social media, facts need to be verified more carefully in consideration of the risk of false information that exploits anonymity and manipulation of public opinion. Ethical journalists do not copy or plagiarize articles from other media, and write and report independently. They do not use provocative or misleading titles to grab the reader’s attention, and if an article is revised, they indicate the edited parts and state the reason for the revision in a way that the reader can understand. When using online content, they obtain consent from the author and protect the copyright.
- These statements apply for all individuals, groups and organizations who contribute to journalism.
- Any press outlet that adopts these guidelines must strive to follow and expand these principles into practice.
- An ethical journalism committee can be established in order to practice or amend parts of the Charter of Ethics.
January 19, 2021
Journalists Association of Korea, Korea Internet Newspaper Association