Principles and Ethics
The fundamental objective of journalism is to serve the people with news, views, comments and information on matters of public interest in a fair, accurate unbiased, sober and decent manner. Towards this end, the Press is expected to conduct itself in keeping with certain norms of professionalism universally recognised. The norms enunciated below and other specific guidelines appended thereafter when applied with due discernment and adaptation to the varying circumstance of each case, will help the journalist to self-regulate his or her conduct.
Accuracy & Fairness
1. The Press shall eschew publication of inaccurate, baseless, graceless, misleading or distorted material. All sides of the core issue or subject should be reported. Unjustified rumours and surmises should not be set forth as facts.
2. On receipt of a report or article of public interest and benefit containing imputations or comments against a citizen, the editor should check with due care and attention its factual accuracy apart from other authentic sources with the person or the organisation concerned to elicit his/her or its version comments or reaction and publish the same with due amendments in the report where necessary. In the event of lack or absence of response, a footnote to that effect should bc appended to the report.
Caution against defamatory writings
3. Newspaper should not publish anything which is manifestly defamatory or libellous against any individual or organisation unless after due care and checking, they have sufficient reason to believe that it is true and its publication will be for public good.
4. Truth is no defence for publishing derogatory, scurrilous and defamatory material against a private citizen where no public interest is involved.
5. No personal remarks which may be considered or construed to be derogatory in nature against a dead person should be published except in rare cases of public interest, as the dead person cannot possibly contradict or deny those remarks.
6. The Press shall not rely on objectionable pad behaviour of a citizen for basing the scathing comments with reference to fresh action of that person. If public good requires such reference, the Press should make pre-publication inquiries from the authorities concerned about the follow up action, if any, in regard to those adverse action.
7. The Press has a duty, discretion and right to serve the public interest by drawing reader’s attention to citizens of doubtful antecedents and of questionable character but as responsible journalists they should observe due restraint and caution in hazarding their own opinion or conclusion in branding these persons as ‘cheats’ or ‘killers’ etc. The cardinal principle being that the guilt of a person should be established by proof of facts alleged and not by proof of the bad character of the accused. In its zest to expose the Press should not exceed the limits of ethical caution and fair comments.
8. Where the impugned publications are manifestly injurious to the reputation of the complainant, the onus shall be on the respondent to show that they were true or to establish that they constituted for comment made in good faith and for public good.