Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Australian Journalists' Association

November 1996

This Page: Appendix 1, Appendix 2, Appendix 3,

Appendix 1

AJA Code of Ethics 1944

Each member of the Australian Journalists' Association is bound by its rules to observe this Code of Ethics in his employment:

To report and interpret news with a scrupulous honesty.

Not to suppress essential facts nor distort the truth by omission or wrong or improper emphasis.

To respect all confidences received by him in the course of his calling.

To observe at all times the fraternal obligations arising from his membership of the Association and not on any occasion to take unfair or improper advantage of a fellow member of the Association.

Not to allow his personal interests to influence him in the discharge of his duties, nor to accept or offer any present, gift or consideration, or benefit or advantage of whatsoever kind that may have the effect of so benefiting him.

To use only fair and honest means to obtain news, pictures and documents.

Always to reveal his identity as a representative of the press before obtaining any personal interview for the purpose of using it for publication.

To do his utmost to maintain full confidence in the integrity and dignity of the calling of a journalist.

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Appendix 2

AJA Code of Ethics1984-present

Respect for truth and the public's right to know are overriding principles for all journalists. In pursuance of these principles journalists commit themselves to ethical and professional standards. All members of the AJA section engaged in gathering, transmitting, disseminating and commenting on news and information shall observe the following code of ethics in their professional activities. They acknowledge the jurisdiction of their professional colleagues in the AJA judiciary committees to adjudicate on issues connected with the code.

1 They shall report and interpret the news with scrupulous honesty by striving to disclose all essential facts and by not suppressing relevant, available facts or by distorting by wrong or improper emphasis.

2 They shall not place unnecessary emphasis on gender, race, sexual preference, religious belief, marital status or physical or mental disability.

3 In all circumstances they shall respect all confidences received in the course of their calling.

4 They shall not allow personal interests to influence them in the course of their professional duties.

5 They shall not allow their professional duties to be influenced by any consideration, gift or advantage offered and, where appropriate, shall disclose any such offer.

6 They shall not allow advertising or commercial considerations to influence them in their professional duties.

7 They shall use fair and honest means to obtain news, films, tapes and documents.

8 They shall identify themselves and their employers before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast.

9 They shall respect private grief and personal privacy and shall have the right to resist compulsion to intrude on them.

10 They shall do their utmost to correct any published or broadcast information found to be harmfully inaccurate.

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Appendix 3

Recommended revised MEAA -Code of Ethics

Journalists describe society to itself. They seek truth.
They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role.
They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest andremember.
They inform citizens and animate democracy.
They give a practical form to freedom of expression.
Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have thesepublic responsibilities.
They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should beaccountable.
Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do notfulfil their public responsibilities.

MEAA members engaged in journalism commit themselves to -

In consultation with colleagues, they will apply the followingstandards.

1 Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy,fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppressrelevant available facts, nor give distorting emphasis.

2 Make efforts to give the subject of any damaging report anopportunity to comment, preferably in that same report.

3 Urge the fair correction of errors.

4 Use fair and honest means to obtain material. Avoidmisrepresentation and use of concealed equipment or surveillancedevices.

5 Pictures and sound should be true and accurate. Anymanipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.

6 Plagiarism is stealing. Always attribute fairly.

7 Only quote directly what is actually said or written.Otherwise paraphrase. Meaning and context should be accuratelyreflected.

8 Disclose any direct or indirect payment made for interviews,pictures or information.

9 Do not allow personal beliefs or commitments to undermineaccuracy, fairness and independence. Where relevant, disclose.

10 Do not allow any payment, gift or other advantage toundermine accuracy, fairness and independence. Where relevant,disclose.

11 Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personalgain.

12 Guard against advertising or commercial considerationsimproperly influencing journalism. Where it occurs, disclose.

13 Accept the right to privacy of every person. Publicfigures' privacy may be reduced by their public role. Relativesand friends of those in the public eye retain their own right toprivacy.

14 At times of grief or trauma, always act with sensitivityand discretion. Never harass. Never exploit a person'svulnerability or ignorance of media practice. Interview only withinformed consent.

15 Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personalcharacteristics including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender,age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious beliefor physical or mental disability.

16 Never knowingly endanger the life or safety of a personwithout informed consent.

17 Exercise particular care for the welfare of children inreports involving them.

18 Respect every person's right to a fair trial.

19 Aim to attribute as precisely as possible all informationto its source. When a source seeks anonymity, do not agreewithout first considering the source's motive and any alternativeattributable sources. Keep confidences given in good faith.

20 Educate yourself about ethics and help to enforce thiscode.

Guidance clause

Basic values often need interpretation and sometimes can comeinto conflict. Ethics requires conscientious decision-making incontext. Only substantial considerations of public interest orsubstantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.

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List of submitters
[49 submissions separately listed, plus thefollowing]

Wendy Bacon,
Australian Centre for Independent Journalism,
Senior Lecturer and journalism co-ordinator,
University of Technology, Sydney

Bronwyn Potts
Mitchell, ACT

Chris Masters
Four Corners, ABC TV

Liz Pearce, Julie Duncan,
MEAA Judiciary Committee,
South Australia

Terry O'Connor,
MEAA Judiciary Committee,

David Fagan,
MEAA Queensland branch

Mike Smith,
Executive editor,
John Fairfax Group

Tony Wells,
MEAA Judiciary Committee,

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