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Ethics Guide

Section D: Respect for individuals and groups

17. Fairness

News media and journalists must treat fairly any person or group featured in a story, or with whom they have interacted.

18. Right to privacy and dignity

(1) News media and journalists must respect the individual’s fundamental right to privacy and dignity.

(2) When in the public interest, news media and journalists may deem the public’s right to know outweighs such rights.

18.1 Human tragedy

News media and journalists must show restraint and respect for individuals and the families of those struck by tragedy or grief. They must not harass them and respect any decision to decline an interview.

18.2 Offending sensibilities

(1) Journalists and news media should refrain from unnecessarily publishing or broadcasting images and other content that may be offensive to some members of the public.

(2) If the format allows for it, journalists and news media should include a content advisory warning informing the public of shocking images or content.

19. Discrimination

(1) Journalists and news media must avoid the use of terms and depictions to designate any person or group in an attempt to discriminate, spread or inspire hatred, encourage violence or fuel prejudice.

(2) Journalists and news media should not refer to a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, handicap or other personal characteristics unless relevant to the story.

20. Legal cases

Journalists and news media must exercise caution and fairness in the coverage of judicial and police matters, given the severity of consequences that could result from such coverage.

20.1 Right to fair trial and the presumption of innocence
 
(1) Journalists and news media must respect the right of any person to a fair trial and to the presumption of innocence.
 
(2) In the absence of formal charges, journalists and news media must exercise especial caution before publicly naming those suspected of illegal acts.

20.2 Follow-up of legal cases
 
Whenever possible, journalists and news media must follow up and make the public aware of the outcome of judicial cases.

20.3 Criminal records
 
Journalists and news media should not mention the criminal record of a person who is not the subject of legal proceedings, unless such information is in the public interest.

20.4 Relatives of the accused or convicted
 
Journalists and news media must refrain from naming relatives of persons accused or convicted of crimes, unless such information is in the public interest.

21. Naming victims of accidents or crimes

(1) Journalists and news media must not publish or broadcast photographs or any information that could reveal the identity of a victim of an accident or criminal act unless they are certain next of kin have been notified.
 
(2) Journalists and news media must not reveal the names or families of victims of sexual offenses, except under exceptional circumstances such as when the victim expressly waives the right to confidentiality.

22. Identifying minors involved in legal cases

(1) Journalists and news media must not publish any details that could reveal the identity of a minor accused of a crime, unless it is overwhelmingly in the public interest.
 
(2) Journalists and news media must not publish any details that could reveal the identity of a minor involved in a legal matter as a victim or witness, unless it is overwhelmingly in the public interest, the minor has consented in a free and informed manner and is accompanied by a responsible adult.

22.1 Identifying minors not involved in legal cases
 
(1) Even for those minors not involved in a legal matter, journalists and news media must not publish any details that could reveal their identity if it could jeopardize their safety or development.
 
(2) Any exception to this principle must be justified by an overwhelming public interest, and in addition, the minor must provide free and informed consent and should be accompanied by a responsible adult.

23. Blackmail and intimidation
 
Journalists and news media must never coerce sources with blackmail, intimidation or harassment.

24. Identifying oneself as a journalist
 
Journalists must perform their duties and gather information professionally, in a transparent manner, by identifying themselves as journalists, with exceptions noted in article 25 of this Guide.

25. Clandestine methods
 
(1) Journalists may choose to use clandestine methods while gathering information when both the following conditions are met:

  1. the public interest demands it, and
  2. a forthcoming approach would most likely fail.

(2) If information is collected in a private location, journalists must also have credible information indicating the likelihood of illegal or antisocial activities or breach of trust.

(3) Journalists and news media must disclose the use of clandestine methods, should it be the case, upon publication or broadcast.

(4) When information is collected in a private setting using clandestine methods, journalists and news media must, in the interest of fairness and balance, allow those whose statements or account of events have been reported a right to respond before publication or broadcast.

26. Vulnerable persons

Journalists must exercise especial caution when reporting on those in vulnerable situations.

27. Dealing with the public

Journalists and news media must be courteous when interacting with the public.

27.1 Correcting errors

Journalists and news media must diligently correct their failings and mistakes, whether by correction, retraction or by offering a right of reply to the persons or groups concerned, in order to redress the situation satisfactorily and quickly.