Australia/Oceania: Australia

Australian Journalists Code of Ethics

Current Status: active

Adopted in 1998 by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Australian Journalists Association Section.

Respect for the truth and the public's right to information are fundamental principles of journalism.  Journalists describe society to itself.  They convey information, ideas and opinions.  They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, comment and remember!  They inform citizens and animate democracy.  They give a practical form to freedom of expression. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be responsible and accountable.

Journalists commit themselves to:

  • Honesty
  • Fairness
  • Independence and
  • Respect for the rights of others.

Journalists will educate themselves about ethics and apply the following standards:

  1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts.  Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis.  Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
  2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religions belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
  3. Aim to attribute all information to its source.  Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source's motives and any alternative, attributable source.  Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
  4. Do not allow any personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
  5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism.  Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
  6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
  7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
  8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material.  Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast.  Never exploit a person's vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
  9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate.  Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
  10. Do not plagiarise.
  11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
  12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.

Guidance Clause

Basic values can sometimes come into conflict. Ethical journalism requires conscientious decision-making in context. Only substantial advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.