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Croatian journalists' code of honor

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The right to accurate, complete and timely information and freedom of thought and expression are one of the fundamental rights and freedoms of every human being, regardless of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other belief, national or social background, posessions, birth, education, social status or other characteristics. This right of the public to be informed of the facts and opinions also implies the entirety of the obligations and rights of journalists. In their work, journalists have a duty to defend human rights, dignity, freedoms and values, respect the pluralism of ideas and views, resist all forms of censorship, contribute to strengthening the rule of law and participate, as part of the public, in democratic control of power and government. Journalists adhere to the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Croatia, nurture the culture and ethics of public expression and respect civilizational achievements and values. It is their obligation to adhere to professional ethical principles. This Code establishes these principles and protects the inalienable rights of individuals and the right of the public to information.


  1. In their activities, journalists are guided by the ethics of journalism as a calling. They safeguard the reputation, dignity and integrity of their profession, cooperate with each other and foster collegial relationships and professional solidarity.
  2. Starting from the principle that in a democratic society the public media are free, independent, investigative and open to different and diverse opinions, the journalist bears responsibility for his/her work before the public, the law and his/her professional organization. By presenting his/her own and critical viewpoint in the search for truth, as a basic principle in professional work, the journalist actively participates in the creation of public opinion and collective reflection on topics of public interest.
  3. A journalist has the right and the duty to refuse a work assignment that is contrary to the professional ethical standards of the journalistic work.
  4. The work of journalists is subject to public criticism. Journalists and editorial staff are obliged to treat carefully and critically all comments and recommendations made to them.


  1. It is the right and duty of journalists to advocate the free information flow. The journalist is obliged to present accurate, complete and verified information. He/she critically judges the sources of information and, as per rule, cites them. He/she has the right not to disclose the source of the information, but is responsible for the published information.
  2. In all journalistic contributions, including comments and polemics, the journalist is obliged to respect the ethics of public speech and the culture of dialogue and to respect the honor, reputation and dignity of the persons or groups with whom he or she enters into a discussion. When reporting on topics on which various relevant positions are present, and in particular when allegations are made, the journalist seeks to make all those views available to the public.
  3. A journalist has the right to investigate freely all facts of public interest as well as the right of access to all related sources of information. If he/she is unjustifiably denied the requested information which is of public interest, he/she shall have the right to inform the public of such events. Paying to obtain information and cooperating with a source expecting payment, or any other favours in exchange for information, is only permissible if it is the only way of obtaining information of exceptional public interest.
  4. A journalist must not abuse the trust established with the source of information. The legal person or natural person providing the information to the journalist must be informed by the journalist in what medium and in what context will this information be published. The meaning of statements and interviews should not be distorted by the journalist, either directly or by taking them out of context. Authorization only means the authentication of the content of the interview. Interview equipment is not subject to authorization. Once authorized, the interview is considered final.
  5. When collecting information, a journalist may not use methods contrary to this Code unless there is no other way to obtain information of extreme public interest. Attempts to extort information through intimidation, threats, blackmail and other forms of coercion are unacceptable.
  6. The journalist respects the legal provisions on confidentiality of information and the embargo on the publication of information. Breach of these restrictions is permissible only if they have been misused to prevent the publication of information of extreme public interest.
  7. The journalist respects the authorship of other journalists and other participants in the public informing systems. In its appendices it lists the sources he/she used. Plagiarism is incompatible with journalistic ethics.
  8. If the journalist has published inaccurate information, he/she is obliged to correct it as soon as possible. The correction should be published in the same or equivalent location of the media space and in the same or equivalent manner as the information to which the correction relates. The same applies to any other proceedings that violate the principles of this Code.


  1. In their activities, journalists respect, protect and promote fundamental human rights and freedoms, and in particular the principle of equality for all citizens. Special responsibility is expected when reporting or commenting on the rights, needs, problems and demands of minority social groups. Information about race, colour, religion or nationality, ae, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, any physical or mental personality or illness, marital status, lifestyle, social status, property status or educational level, is provided by a journalist only if is highly relevant in the context in which it is presented. It is inadmissible to use stereotypes, pejorative expressions, degrading portrayal, as well as any other form of direct or indirect incitement or support for discrimination.
  2. A journalist should protect a person's intimacy from sensationalistic disclosure and any other unjustified disclosure to the public. He/she is bound to respect everyone's right to privacy. It is unacceptable to shoot or photograph people without their permission, in an environment where privacy is reasonably expected. Violation of one's privacy beyond one's will and knowledge is permissible only if justified by an exceptional public interest.
  3. Particular attention, caution and accountability are required when reporting suicides, accidents, personal tragedies, illnesses, deaths and acts of violence. A journalist should avoid interviewing and portraying persons who are directly or indirectly affected by these events, except in the case of extreme public interest. In this case, the journalist is obliged to take into account the honor, reputation and dignity of the persons he/she reports about.
  4. News of suicides and suicide attempts is not to be emphasized and should be kept to a minimum, with particular regard to children. The professional guidelines for suicide reporting need to be adhered to.
  5. The reports and articles on court proceedings should respect the constitutional principle of the presumption of innocence of the accused and the dignity, integrity and feelings of all parties in the dispute. In criminal proceedings, journalists are obliged to respect the right to the protection of the identity of protected witnesses, confidants, whistleblowers and harmed parties. Their identity may not be disclosed without their consent, except in cases of extreme public interest.
  6. In dealing with political conflicts, the journalist respects the civil rights and freedoms of the participants and the basis of the democratic political system. In doing so, he/she seeks to maintain adequate professional distance.
  7. A journalist must not interview or photograph a child (up to 14 years old) without his or her consent and without the presence and consent of the parent or other adult responsible for the child. Even if such consent exists, it is inadmissible to interview or photograph a child if that could jeopardize his or her well-being. The same applies to any other procedure which directly or indirectly reveals the identity of a child. The welfare of the child is superior to the public interest.
  8. A journalist may not disclose the identity of a child or a minor involved in sexual abuse or any other form of violence or crime, whether the child or minor is a witness, victim, suspect or defendant. Media coverage of such cases should not allow the identification of a child or a minor. The identity of a child or minor may only be disclosed exceptionally when it is in the public interest and does not jeopardize the welfare of the child or minor, and with the consent of the parent or guardian of the child or minor, or when required for the welfare of the child by government bodies.


  1. A journalist must not engage in activities that might jeopardize his independence, objectivity and independence of judgment, afflicting his journalistic dignity. He/she must avoid situations that could lead him/her into a conflict of interest and threaten his/her personal and journalistic profession. The journalist does not accept gifts, services, awards, paid trips, additional employment, work in politics and other benefits that may diminish or call into question his or her credibility as well as the credibility of the journalistic profession. All other situations that may give the impression of his/hers bias should also be avoided. If he/she finds himself/herself in a conflict of interest, he/she must disclose it to the public. The journalist is obliged to resist all forms of pressure by individuals or groups to influence his/her reporting and has the right to inform the public about such attempts.
  2. A journalist, like any citizen, has the right to political and other choices. However, in his/her work, he/she takes a professional distance from current events, which is one of the preconditions for objective and professional event reporting.
  3. A journalist must not publish information for personal gain. Until the public has been informed of them, the journalist must not use information on financial developments obtained through his/her journalistic activities, for personal interests. If he/she trades with bonds, stocks or similar valuable papers that he/she also reports about, it must be disclosed to the public.
  4. A journalist must not be the author of advertisements and other propaganda material, as this calls into question his professional impartiality. The same goes for every other form of participation in advertising and propaganda activities.


  1. Editors of newspapers, radio and television programs, as well as electronic publications that publish journalistic articles, are required to abide the professional ethical principles applicable to all journalists. It is their responsibility to ensure that the advertisements, letters of the readers, as well as all other non-journalistic textual, visual and audio content of the editorial issues comply with the ethical and legal principles of public communication. In electronic publications, where users directly publish textual, visual or audio content, editors are required to provide mechanisms that will prevent or at least restrict the publication of ethically and legally unacceptable content. If they are published, they are obliged to remove them from the issue as soon as possible.
  2. An editor must not ask a journalist to work against professional ethical principles.
  3. Journalistic articles with substantially altered meaning by shortening or other editorial interventions may be published only with the consent of the author. If there is a disagreement, the author has the right to withdraw his contribution or signature. The editorial board is responsible for a journalistic article published without the author's name or initials or under a pseudonym, as well as for those articles signed by several authors.
  4. The editor is responsible for all textual, visual and audio appendages of the journalistic report. The equipment must faithfully express the content of the journalistic report.
  5. If incorrect or substantially incomplete information, or information that otherwise violates the provisions of this Code, has been published in a newspaper, radio or television program or electronic publication, anyone who is directly or indirectly materially or potentially harmed by the publication of this information, has the right to rectification. The views of journalists and those of others passed on in a journalistic report are not subject to the right of correction.
  6. A correction or rectification, in the part directly related to inaccurate or substantially incomplete information, must be published unchanged, in the same or equivalent place of the media space and in the same or equivalent way as the information to which the correction relates was published in. A correction may be published in an abridged or amended form only if the complainant agrees. The correction must be published in such a way that it is clear that it is a correction, and should not be published among the reactions or letters of the readers, or, the viewers and the listeners, without the consent of the applicant. In electronic publications, the correction and the information to which it relates must be interlinked. It is the duty of the editor to ensure that the correction is published as soon as possible. A comment or response to a correction may not be published with the correction in the same media release.
  7. Covert advertising and promotional journalistic articles are not permitted. Whether paid or free, advertisements, like all paid information, must be clearly and unequivocally different from news articles.


A journalist who complies with this Code enjoys the support of his editorial staff and his professional organization. The Statute of the Croatian Journalists' Association set sanctions for violations of the Code. Editorial acts also establish responsibility for the application of the Code to journalists who are not members of HND. HND's Council of Honor is responsible for the protection and implementation of the Code. This Code has come into force on the day of its endorsement at the 50th Assembly of the Croatian Journalists' Association, held on November 27th 2009 in Opatija.