CODE OF ETHICS

INTRODUCTION 

In 1994, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) developed and adopted its Code of Ethics, which has served the Association well throughout the period. However, with the proliferation of media types, it has become necessary to revise the Code to meet the new challenges that have emerged in the intervening years.

The challenges include the impact of media pluralism and diversity, and the sheer numbers of radio and television stations across the country. Meanwhile, the emergence of new media forms has further exacerbated the situation.

One critical objective of this revised Code of Ethics is to take cognizance of all ethical breaches that have been identified in the practice of journalism in the country. Some of the breaches include hoax stories, April Fool Day pranks, fabrications, publishing stories without sourcing or authentication, and presenting advertisements and promotional materials as news.

It is expected that this Code will encompass all the challenges across the traditional, new media, social media and cross media as far as newsgathering, processing and dissemination are concerned. It is our considered view that this effort will inevitably promote accountability, build trust and add value to the output of journalism and media organizations, and raise the image of the profession.

As with the development and production of the 994 Code, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES Ghana) supported this review as well.

PREAMBLE

•The GJA Code of Ethics is a ready guide that is applicable to all categories of journalists working with newspapers, radio,  television, cross media/multimedia, online media, new media, social media or those working as photo-journalists, cartoonists, and animation specialists.

•The Code is meant to ensure that members of the Ghana Journalists Association adhere to the highest ethical standards, professional competence, and good behaviour in carrying out their duties.

•The Code provides a frame of reference to the National Executive, the Ethics and Disciplinary Council, and members of the Association when it becomes necessary to initiate disciplinary action against any member who flouts any article of the Code.

•As an indispensable institution, the mass media is expected to undertake the surveillance of all activities and actors in the society as well as to inculcate in the citizens—agreed values, a sense of purpose, and support for meeting the nation’s socio-economic and cultural development goals. The performance of the media should also ensure the preservation of law and order and provide the platform for free expression for all citizens, and not only the privileged few. This should be done with a high sense of responsibility without infringing on the rights of individuals and the society in general.

GUIDELINES

A journalist:

•At all times upholds and defends the principles of media freedom and independence.

•Reports the truth at all times.

•Upholds the public interest and the right of the public to be informed. 

•Makes adequate enquiries and cross-checks his/her facts.

•Makes and verifies the source of every information.

•Recognizes the public’s right to fair, unbiased, accurate, balanced and comprehensive information.

•Places accuracy above speed in all forms of publications.

•Differentiates between fact, opinion and commentary such that news is presented objectively without embellishments.

•Does not suppress news, information and materials on the basis of threats, inducements, and individual preferences or for personal gain. 

•Does not accept a bribe or any form of inducement to influence the performance of his/her professional duties.

•Does not take unfair personal advantage of information gained in the course of his/her duties before the information is made public.

•Does not plagiarise because it is unethical and illegal.

•Obtains information, videos, data, photographs and illustrations only by honest, straightforward, fair and open means—unless otherwise tampered by public interest considerations.

•Protects confidential sources of information.

•Corrects inaccuracies and mistakes at the earliest opportunity and offers a chance for a rejoinder and/or an apology as appropriate.

•Does not intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of public interest.

•Respects the individual’s rights to privacy and human dignity.

•Avoids identifying victims of sexual assault.

•Protects the rights of minors, and in criminal and other cases, secures the consent of parents or guardians before interviewing or photographing them.

•Produces no material that has the potential to lead to hatred, ridicule or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age, education, religion, gender, ethnicity, colour, creed, legal status, disability, marital status or sexual orientation.

•Respects embargoes from news sources.

•Ensures that news headlines are fully warranted by the contents of the articles they accompany.

•Ensures that photographs and multimedia contents adequately reflect an event and do not highlight an incident out of context.

•Shows good taste, avoids vulgarity and the use of indecent language and images.

 

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