Due to cultural and legislative differences, it is not an easy task to create global instructions for journalists.
Ethical guidelines vary from country to country. Media creates stories across the world and consumers of media seek out information from not only from national, but also from international media. In spite of the movement of audiences, all publications are guided by their own, often national guidelines.
Main values include truth, independence and minimizing harm
There are also global guidelines, such as the aforementioned Paris declaration. Also the international journalist association, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has a 9-item ethical rulebook. It is, however, quite broad as the rules are a compromise between journalist associations from around the world.
Main values include truth, independence and minimizing harm. For example, one of the guidelines says: “Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist”. Guideline number four states “the journalist shall use only fair methods to obtain news, photographs and documents.”
The instructions immediately bring forward questions: how to define truth? What about the methods to obtain information, which ones are fair and which unfair?
To give more accurate guidelines one has to focus on the instructions of a certain country. This is why this chapter offers the selection of those basic principles that are the most common in European countries. There are also examples from international, national and in-house guidelines. In the end, surprisingly, despite cultural and political differences, the rules from different counties have a lot in common.
In this guide the themes of a journalist have been grouped in the following manner: