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Code of Ethics of the Association of Polish Journalists

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By adopting the principles of the Media Ethics Charter and the declaration of the International Federation of Journalists, we recognize that:

  • a journalist is to provide reliable and impartial information, various opinions, and to enable participation in public debate,
  • freedom of speech and expression must be accompanied by being responsible for publications in the press, radio, television, and the Internet,
  • the interests of the readers, listeners, and viewers as well as the public good should take precedence over the interests of the author, editor, publisher, or broadcaster.

I - Information and opinions

  1. Information should be clearly distinguished from interpretations and opinions.
  2. Information should be balanced and accurate so that the recipient can distinguish facts from assumptions and rumours, and should be presented in an appropriate context, and based on credible and possibly multilateral sources.
  3. Opinions may be biased, but they must not distort the facts and be the result of external pressures.
  4. Errors and mistakes require immediate rectification, even if they were not the fault of the author or the editors and regardless of whether anyone applied for rectification.

II - Collection and processing of materials

  1. When collecting materials, illegal and ethically reprehensible methods must not be used; hidden cameras and microphones or telephone wiretapping are permissible only in the case of investigative journalism, i.e. tracking of crimes, corruption, or abuse of power, on behalf of the public good and with the knowledge and consent of the journalist's superiors.
  2. The private and intimate sphere must not be violated; in justified circumstances, an exception can include activities in the field of investigative journalism, and also for public figures.
  3. A journalist is obliged to keep secret the source of their information, including the person and image of the informant if required by the informant with the reservation that the secret may be disclosed only to the journalist's supervisor.
  4. The elaboration or summary of information, interviews or opinions must not change their meaning and pronunciation; archival materials and reconstructions of events presented in electronic media should be appropriately marked.

  1. Interviewees should be informed about the use of their statements; permission is required from the interviewee if the interviewee restricts the use of their statements; children's statements may only be used with the consent of their parents or legal guardians.
  2. A journalist should show respect for people, regardless of their ideological, cultural, or moral differences which do not comply with the journalist's own views.
  3. Consideration must be exercised to not offend people with physical or mental disabilities, the old and the sick, and those who are helpless in life.
  4. Particular care should be taken when informing about new methods of treatment that have not yet been fully tested and are only experimental in nature; fortune-telling and horoscopes cannot be presented as reliable information or indicators.
  5. The language of speech should be careful, while vulgarisms and obscene terms should be avoided.

IV - Offences and exceptional situations

  1. When disclosing crimes and persons suspected of having committed crimes, extreme caution should be exercised to avoid descriptions that allow for initiation of anti-social acts, and not presume guilt until the court issues a final judgment.
  2. When reporting on wars, riots and demonstrations, journalists should maintain an attitude of uninvolved observers, so as not to be manipulated.
  3. It is unacceptable to show scenes of death in close-up, and the bloody effects of wars and catastrophes; manifestations of cruelty and violence can be described and shown only on condition of maintaining a balance between the accuracy of the reporting and the sensitivity of the audience's feelings, especially victims' families and their relatives.

V - Conflicts of interest

  1. Journalistic credibility and independence are incompatible with accepting gifts worth more than PLN 200, free trips, or items and devices for testing.
  2. A journalist cannot be involved in canvassing or participate in advertising and public relations; the only exception is social and charity campaigns; editorial materials must be clearly separated from advertising and promotional materials.
  3. Surreptitious advertising and withholding of information are highly reprehensible.
  4. A journalist may not use publicly disclosed information obtained in the course of their professional activity for their own interest, especially in financial and economic journalism.
  5. The involvement of journalists in direct political and party activity is also a manifestation of a conflict of interest, and the taking up of such activities and performance of functions in public administration and political organizations is not permitted.

VI - Colleagues and Superiors

  1. Relations between colleagues and associates should be based on partnership. Unfair competition and misappropriation of other people's work or even ideas are unacceptable.
  2. The journalist is loyal to his supervisors and publishers or broadcasters. However, they cannot order the journalist, and the journalist has the right to refuse, to carry out orders contrary to the law, their professional ethics, or well-established convictions.

VII - Liability and penalties

  1. The author of the press, radio, television or Internet publication as well as their editor, publisher or broadcaster are all liable for violations of the principles of journalistic ethics.
  2. Penalties are imposed by journalistic courts, depending on the nature and scale of the offence, including: admonitions, reprimands, temporary suspensions of rights as a member of the Association of Polish Journalists, and removal from the Association. The Supreme Journalists Court can announce such verdicts in the media.