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New Journalist’s Code of Ethics Was Published. The Press Council Urges the Guild to Read and Observe It

16 May 2019
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The Press Council published the final version of the Moldovan Journalist’s Code of Ethics, which includes a number of new rules on the media behaviour in various situations. Viorica Zaharia, the Press Council Chairperson urges media representatives to get acquainted with and observe the revised document.
The document comes with a number of first-time recommendations. Thus, in case of a critical speech addressed to a particular person, the Code recommends the journalist to give priority to protecting their privacy, and in case of a critical speech addressed to a public person, he should give priority to the public interest. Also, journalists must possess specialized knowledge and skills. Moral integrity, basic journalist skills and language culture are professional requirements essential for a journalist.

As regards the protection of human rights, provisions on private life were included. According to the Code, interfering with one’s privacy is allowed only when the disclosure of facts pursues a public interest, and journalists should report on the private behaviour of a private person only if such behaviour disturbs public order or violates the rights of other people.
As for the public relations and administration of official web pages, media outlets are encouraged to indicate the address, contact details, final owners/beneficiaries and editorial policy; to publish their funding sources in order to ensure transparency, while journalists are encouraged to ‘adopt a similar behavior in both the real and the virtual space’.

As for collection and treatment of information, there are also many new and detailed items. Thus, according to the Code, while collecting information, the journalist usually identifies his name and the media outlet he represents, as applicable, warning the source that the information provided thereby may be made public. Also, the journalist warns his interlocutor if the discussion is recorded.
While collecting information about protests, strikes, manifestations, or social disorders, the journalist should not associate with the organizers or the participants. Furthermore, according to the new Code, a journalist should be easy to identify – by a vest or nametag having the inscription ‘press’ or by other ways.

As regards the conflict of interests, according to the new Code, the journalist’s professional work is incompatible with his work in administration structures of public authorities and of political organizations.
A new provision also refers to how journalists should reflect data on survey results. They must not present data as faits accomplis, and journalistic materials about opinion surveys shall be accompanied by the following information: name of the organization that conducted the survey; date or time interval in which the survey took place and the method used; size of the sample and maximum error margin; beneficiary of the survey and the funding source.
A separate item is dedicated to the observance of the copyright. The Code notes that the free taking over of journalistic materials takes place as established by the author or the media outlet which was the source of information. In such situations, the source and author of the information must be quoted and, for online media, the direct link to the source should also be indicated in the first paragraph of the text. An item can be taken over in full only in the conditions imposed, requested and provided by the rights bearer.

Asked by the Media Azi, the Press Council Chairperson Viorica Zaharia told us that she expected the document to be helpful for the journalistic guild: ‘Provisions of the new Code have been detailed and sometimes explained throughout the document development. I hope that the improved version of the Code will be really useful for journalists and I urge them to read this newly published document and act on it in daily work’.
Note that the proposals to supplement the Code of Ethics were developed by a group of national and international experts of the ‘Freedom House’ organisation and consulted with media professionals representatives of civic associations, other persons and interested organisations.
The document is available in Romanian, Russian and English languages.