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Code of Ethics of the Bulgarian Media

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  • In accordance with the Constitution of Bulgaria and its international human rights agreements;
  • Reaffirming that everyone has the fundamental right to freedom of expression, access to information, protection of personal dignity and privacy, and the right to safety and security;
  • Reaffirming that the media should be guaranteed the freedom to operate without any form of censorship;
  • Realising that to maintain these rights, the media have freedoms and responsibilities, as well as other rights and obligations;
  • Declaring that our primary purpose in abiding by the letter and the spirit of this Code is to honour the right of the public to receive and distribute reliable information so that they can play an active role as citizens in an open democracy;
  • In recognition of our responsibility to respect these rights, we, as representatives of the Bulgarian media, commit ourselves to the following principles:


1. Accuracy

  1. We shall supply the public with accurate and verified information and we shall not deliberately suppress or distort facts.
  2. We shall not publish information we know to be inaccurate.
  3. We shall not mislead the public, and we will clearly indicate where manipulated texts, documents, images, and sounds have been used.
  4. We shall distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture, and facts.
  5. In presenting analysis and comment we shall seek to ensure that a diversity of opinions and views is represented.
  6. In reporting on a controversy we shall seek to ensure that the parties concerned have an opportunity to state their position.

2. Corrections

  1. We shall publish a clear and appropriately prominent correction when it can be demonstrated that inaccurate or misleading information has been published, and we shall provide an apology if necessary.
  2. We shall provide a right of reply to individuals and organisations directly affected by inaccurate or misleading publications.

3. Sources

  1. We shall endeavour to verify information, as we look for and use different sources, before it is published, and we shall indicate its provenance where appropriate.
  2. We prefer to use identified sources rather than anonymous sources, as the latter's honesty and reliability cannot be assessed by the public.
  3. We shall protect the identity of confidential sources of information.
  4. We shall always indicate where information has not been confirmed.


1. Identification

  1. We shall gather information by fair and legal means.
  2. We shall only make use of subterfuge, hidden cameras, microphones, and other special equipment or means, including obscuring our professional identity, if there are no other means to obtain information deemed exceptionally important to the public interest; we shall indicate such methods in the respective story.

2. Harassment

  1. We shall not use threats, force, or harassment to obtain information or images.

3. Privacy

  1. We respect the inviolability of everyone's private life.
  2. We shall avoid publishing photographs and recordings of individuals if these photographs and recordings were taken or made outside of the realm of a public space and without their consent.
  3. We shall not add to the distress of people affected by tragedy or crime and shall report such matters with sympathy and constraint.
  4. We shall respect the wish of people to grieve in private.
  5. Only an exceptional circumstance that is important to the public interest would justify the media's intrusion into private and family life.
  6. According to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, public figures can expect a lesser degree of privacy; however, information about their private lives can be disclosed only if it serves the public interest.

    4. Children

  7. We shall demonstrate special responsibility in respecting the rights of children, including their right to be heard.
  8. We shall not take advantage of a child's innocence and trust.
  9. We shall not publish information or photographs about the private life of a child unless there is an overriding circumstance serving the public interest.
  10. We shall protect the identity of children involved in or affected by tragedy or criminal activity when identifying them under such circumstances may harm them.
  11. We shall seek to avoid interviewing children without the consent of an adult in charge.

5. Discrimination

  1. We respect everyone's right to live in safety and security, and we shall avoid publishing material that incites or encourages hatred, violence, or any form of discrimination.
  2. We shall not refer to a person's race, colour, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or mental or physical condition, unless it is of relevant importance to the meaning of the story.

6. Crime and brutality

  1. We respect the assumption of innocence and will not describe a person as a criminal prior to the person's conviction.
  2. If we identify a person as being charged with a crime, we shall also make known the outcome of the trial.
  3. We shall treat with caution the identification of victims and witnesses of crime, especially in cases involving sexual assault, unless the respective victims and witnesses give consent to being identified.
  4. We shall refrain from glorifying or unnecessarily sensationalising crime, violence, and brutality when reporting them.
  5. We shall be careful not to be used as a platform for those who would promote, incite, or otherwise use violence; we shall report on such activities with due constraint and only if it clearly serves the public interest.

7. Decency

1. We shall respect good taste and decency in our publications.

8. Suicides

1. We shall avoid publishing details of suicide methods in order to limit the risk of imitation.


  1. We shall not be susceptible to political or commercial pressure or influence.
  2. We shall maintain a clear distinction between editorial decision making, and the commercial policy of the media.
  3. We shall maintain a clear distinction between editorial content, and marketing, advertisements, or sponsored materials.
  4. We shall not accept any personal, political, or financial inducements that may impact our ability to provide the public with accurate information.
  5. We shall not use our access to information as a means of obtaining personal gain, especially in respect to information regarding business performance and financial markets.
  6. We shall avoid covering stories where we have a direct personal interest, or, if we pursue such stories, we should at least declare our personal interests where relevant.
  7. We respect the right of individual journalists to refuse, or refuse being identified as the author of, assignments or publications which would break the letter and spirit of this Code.
  8. We shall not pay sources for information, but where payment is considered necessary in order to obtain information that clearly serves the public interest, we shall make known that payments have been made for such information.


  1. We believe that relationships between different media outlets and between media professionals should be characterised by mutual respect and fair competition in order to preserve the integrity of the media.
  2. We believe that the public has a right to know who owns and controls media outlets.
  3. We consider all forms of plagiarism to be unacceptable in all circumstances.
  4. We respect copyright and the terms of copyright agreements.
  5. We shall always acknowledge the source of short extracts of material from other media which may be in use without their express permission.
  6. We shall only reproduce longer extracts or complete materials from other media with the prior permission and acknowledgement of the respective author and media.
  7. We shall support media colleagues when they are unfairly attacked or criticised. However, professional solidarity should not be an excuse for suppressing or distorting information.
  8. We believe that individual journalists who respected the letter and spirit of this Code yet are charged in court by third parties should be supported by their respective media outlet.


  1. Infringement of the terms of this Code may only be justified where it can be clearly and fully demonstrated that the respective publication serves the best interests of the public.
  2. For the purposes of this Code, information that is in, of, serves, or is otherwise important to 'the public interest' should not be confused with information that is 'interesting to the public.'
  3. A publication is in, of, serves, or is otherwise important to 'the public interest' only if:
    • it protects the health, safety and security of the public;
    • it helps the prevention and disclosure of serious crimes and abuse of power regarding the public; and
    • it prevents the public from the danger of being seriously misled.