Almost from its inception, MEDIA ETHICS has published codes of ethical practice associated with mass media professions and organizations. The first of these was the 1987 Radio-Television News Directors Association code, accompanied by a debate between Jeffrey A. Marks and John Michael Kittross that was published both in MEDIA ETHICS and in RTNDA Communicator. The most recently published code was the new Boston Globe Standards for Ethics and Accuracy published in the fall of 2003.
Although the codes of many organizations (such as Fox News and ABC) are too detailed and too lengthy to be published in these pages, and some are considered confidential "inside" documents, we intend to continue publishing any appropriate documents of this sort that come to our attention.
On this page is the English language edition of the standards espoused by Aljazeera, the globally distributed Middle Eastern television news channel. (For more about Aljazeera, the motion picture Control Room is recommended). Compare these standards with the RTNDA code elsewhere on this Website.
Being a globally oriented media service, Aljazeera shall determinedly adopt the following code of ethics in pursuance of the vision and mission it has set for itself:
1. Adhere to the journalistic values of honesty, courage, fairness, balance, independence, credibility and diversity, giving no priority to commercial or political considerations over professional ones.
2. Endeavour to get to the truth and declare it in our dispatches, programmes and news bulletins unequivocally in a manner which leaves no doubt about its validity and accuracy.
3. Treat our audiences with due respect and address every issue or story with due attention to present a clear, factual and accurate picture while giving full consideration to the feelings of victims of crime, war, persecution and disaster, their relatives and our viewers, and to individual privacy and public decorum.
4. Welcome fair and honest media competition without allowing it to affect adversely our standards of performance so that getting a "scoop" will not become an end in itself.
5. Present diverse points of view and opinions without bias or partiality.
6. Recognise diversity in human societies with all their races, cultures and beliefs and their values and intrinsic individualities in order to present unbiased and faithful reflection of them.
7. Acknowledge a mistake when it occurs, promptly correct it and ensure it does not recur.
8. Observe transparency in dealing with news and news sources while adhering to internationally established practices concerning the rights of these sources.
9. Distinguish between news material, opinion and analysis to avoid the pitfalls of speculation and propaganda.
10. Stand by colleagues in the profession and offer them support when required, particularly in light of the acts of aggression and harassment to which journalists are subjected at times. Cooperate with Arab and international journalistic unions and associations to defend freedom of the press.
Thursday 15 July 2004, 20:45 Makka Time, 17:45 GMT
* The Aljazeera Code of Ethics was announced July 12, 2004. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/07256105-B2FC-439A-B255-D830BB238EA1.html. Reprinted courtesy of English.Aljazeera.net.
The above article was published in Media Ethics , Fall 2004 (16:1), p. 11.