The Council for Journalism is an independent institution for handling questions and complaints about journalistic professional practice. The Council for Journalism is an initiative of the Flemish journalist associations, publishers and media houses and is intended as a platform for journalistic self-regulation. Journalist associations, publishers and media houses have set up a non-profit association for this purpose.
The Council for Journalism consists of thirty-six members: twelve journalists, twelve representatives of publishers, media houses and press agencies, and twelve external members. The meetings of the Council for Journalism are attended by the Secretary-General, who is the permanent point of contact for the Council for Journalism.
Citizens can turn to the Council for Journalism with general questions about journalistic professional ethics. They can also submit a written complaint against a journalistic practice. In this case, the Secretary-General first acts as an ombudsman and tries to reach an amicable settlement between the applicant and the journalist or medium concerned.
The Council for Journalism makes a statement about journalistic practice and tests it against the rules of professional ethics. These rules are laid down in the Code of the Council for Journalism (2010), and also in a number of international ethical codes, such as the Declaration of the Rights and Duties of the Journalist (1971) and the Code of Journalistic Principles (1982). The Council for Journalism therefore gives an opinion, it does not impose sanctions and does not award damages. The Council for Journalism can ask a medium to publish a correction.
The applicant receives from the Journalism Council an authoritative opinion on the journalistic practice about which he has submitted a complaint. The Council for Journalism wants to stimulate the discussion about journalistic ethics within the profession and to give the public confidence in the credibility of the media.