Charter of Ethics for Journalists
The UFP Charter of Ethics for Journalists has been constructed to form the basis of ethical conduct for free journalists and media organisations in the United Kingdom. It completes the UFP Declaration of Journalistic Principles and Integrity and is freely adopted by willing signatories.
The Charter is based on major texts of international law, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with full consideration and reverence to the inalienable Natural Rights which form the basis of free speech and Equity under Common Law. It is also aligned with and mirrors the International Federation of Journalists Charter of Ethics. It contains 16 articles plus a preamble and defines all signatories and journalists’ duties and rights regarding ethics.
The right of everyone to have access to information and ideas, reiterated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, underpins the journalist’s mission. The journalist’s responsibility towards the public takes precedence over any other responsibility, in particular towards their employers and the public authorities. Journalism is a profession, which requires time, resources and the means to practice – all of which are essential to its independence. This declaration specifies the guidelines of conduct for free journalists in the research, editing, transmission, dissemination and commentary of news and information, and in the description of events, in any media whatsoever.
In recent years we have been witness to a globally coordinated censorship campaign, targeting independent journalists and alternative media outlets the world over. Quality free journalism is under attack and free dissemination of information in the public interest is being suppressed.
The United Free Press, Charter of Ethics is a voluntary commitment by free and independent journalists in the United Kingdom to uphold the highest standards of journalistic integrity in the conduct of their work. This alliance of the free press is intended to provide the public with increased confidence in the credibility of free media organisations and independent journalists by providing a common code of ethical conduct. It also sends a message to other mainstream media organisations, that the free press are connected, federated and professionally organised to deliver on our overriding principle of reporting truth, no matter how obfuscated, to the general public.
1. Respect for the facts and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.
2. In pursuance of this duty, the journalist shall at all times defend the principles of freedom in the honest collection and publication of news, and of the right of fair comment and criticism. He/she will make sure to clearly distinguish factual information from commentary and criticism, where practicable.
3. The journalist shall report only in accordance with facts of which he/ she knows the origin. The journalist shall not suppress essential information or falsify any document. He/she will be careful to reproduce faithfully statements and other material that non-public persons publish in social media.
4. The journalist shall use only fair methods to obtain information, images, documents and data and he/she will always report his/her status as a journalist and will refrain from using hidden recordings of images and sounds, except where it is impossible for him/her to collect information that is overwhelmingly in the public interest. He/she will demand free access to all sources of information and the right to freely investigate all facts of public interest.
5. The notion of urgency or immediacy in the dissemination of information shall not take precedence over the verification of facts, sources and/or the offer of a reply. However, time-sensitive information or incomplete factual evidence may from time to time be deemed essential to the public interest and should be published with any missing or incomplete information clearly noted.
6. The journalist shall do the utmost to rectify any errors or published information which is found to be inaccurate in a timely, explicit, complete and transparent manner.
7. The journalist shall observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information obtained in confidence.
8. The journalist will respect privacy. He/she shall respect the dignity of the persons named and/or represented and inform the interviewee whether the conversation and other material is intended for publication, where appropriate. He/she shall show particular consideration to inexperienced and vulnerable interviewees.
9. Journalists, will endeavour, through honest reporting and dissemination of information, to avoid contributing to ad hominem attacks, which detract from open debate and discourse.
10. The journalist will consider serious professional misconduct to be
- distortion of facts
- slander, libel, defamation, unfounded accusations
11. The journalist shall at all times refrain from acting as an auxiliary of the police or other security services, whether intentional or inadvertent. He/she will only be required to provide information already in the public domain on a voluntary basis.
12. The journalist will show solidarity with his/her colleagues, without renouncing his/her freedom of investigation, duty to inform, and right to engage in criticism, commentary, satire and editorial choice.
13. The journalist shall not use the freedom of the press to serve any other interest and shall refrain from receiving any unfair advantage or personal gain because of the dissemination or non-dissemination of information. He/she will take reasonable steps to avoid – or put an end to – any situation that could lead him/her to a conflict of interest in the exercise of his/her profession. He/she will avoid any confusion between his activity and that of advertising or propaganda. He/she will refrain from any form of insider trading and market manipulation. He/She will act with honesty, integrity, and independence at all times.
14. The journalist will not undertake any activity or engagement likely to put his/her independence in danger. He/she will, however, respect the methods of collection/dissemination of information that he / she has freely accepted, such as “off the record”, anonymity, or embargo, provided that these commitments are clear and unquestionable.
15. Journalists worthy of the name shall deem it their duty to observe faithfully the principles stated above. They may not be compelled to perform a professional act or to express an opinion that is contrary to his/her professional conviction or conscience.
16. Within the general law of each geographical jurisdiction the journalist shall recognise in matters of professional honour, the jurisdiction of independent self-regulatory bodies open to public scrutiny, to the exclusion of every kind of interference by governments or other state actors.
All articles hereby undertaken by journalistic signatories to the United Free Press Charter of Ethics are entirely voluntary and relate solely to the signatory acting in their professional journalistic capacity.