Europe: Slovakia

The Code of Ethics of the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists

Current Status: unknown

(Approved by the Parliament of the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists on 19 October 1990)

"Everybody has a right to freedom of conviction and expression; this right does not allow that anybody suffers for his/her conviction and includes that right to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas by any means regardless of borders." (General Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, December 10, 1948)

The complex of journalists' rights and duties results from the above mentioned right of the public to know all facts and opinions.  The responsibility of the journalist to the public is superior to all other responsibilities, especially towards their employers and governmental powers.

"Accomplishing these rights and freedoms everybody is only submitted to such limitations that are given by the Law exclusively for the purpose of securing the acknowledgement and the preservation of rights and freedoms of other people, and the fulfilment of the righteous demands of morals, public order and general welfare in the democratic society." (General Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, paragraph 2.)

In accordance with these regulations (the article of the General Declaration of Human Rights and in accordance with the spirit and the wording of the International Pact of Civic and Political Rights) the journalists in Slovakia lay down the following professionally obligatory ethical limits:

I. THE JOURNALIST AND THE PUBLIC

The journalist will do everything which is necessary to give the public true, precise, verified, complete and professional information.  The truthfulness of the information requires that the facts on which it is founded be given as objectively as possible, in their true context, without any distortion or withholding of the circumstances, with appropriate use of journalists' talents.  If some facts cannot be verified it is necessary to mention this. 

The journalist can freely express personal or group opinions within the limits of the pluralistic contest of ideas, but only if he does not violate the civil rights of another person or group of persons and only if he does not threaten the morals of society. At the same time, he himself has to respect the request for a free exchange of opinions and for the free flow of information.  He always pays attention to the norms of good taste and the suitability of his means of expression.  He has a right and a moral duty to refuse the publication of such information as he finds untrue, half-true (distorted), speculative, incomplete or commercially oriented (hidden advertisement).

If the journalist publishes untrue, half-true (distorted), speculative or incomplete information, he must rectify it, and publish correction or response.  The correction must be published in approximately identical graphical arrangement, and preferably in the same place as the information being corrected.  The rejoinder of the author of the original information should not be added to the response so that one party does not enjoy a permanent advantage.

Accusation without proof, misuse of trust, profession used for a personal or group benefit, falsification of documents, distortion of facts, any lie and purposeful withholding of the knowledge of a violation of the Law and society's morals, are regarded by the journalist as the greatest professional sins.

II. THE JOURNALIST AND THE OBJECTS OF HIS INTERESTS

The journalist takes responsibility for everything published by him. Without the consent of the relevant person he is not allowed to defame this person, to interfere with his private life unless this person itself acts against the Law or causes public offence.   The journalist will not publish an interview if the person involved does not wish so; the journalist will indicate the author of the statements only if that person agrees to it.

For the sake of objectivity, the journalist tries in the course of preparing for an article or writing it to give voice to all the persons concerned.

Ill.  THE JOURNALIST AND THE INFORMATION SOURCE

The journalist has an undeniable right of free access to all information sources.  The journalist is obliged to let his informant know about his intentions as regards publication immediately.  When collecting information he does not use pressure.  He is not allowed to misuse either the events and statements of which he was a witness, or the documents reproduced by him.  The journalist is obliged to keep his information sources secret as long as he is not exempted from that duty by the informant or by a Court.

IV. THE JOURNALIST AND EDITORIAL STAFF, OR PUBLISHER

The journalist has a right to such a contract as secures his material needs and his professional honour. He has a right to oppose any pressure on him to act against his convictions.  He only accepts orders from his superiors according to his contract.  The journalist has a right to be protected by his direct superior and publisher by all legal and accessible means, including the protection of his right to use a pseudonym. The journalist must not enforce private and subjective interests for his personal gain. He does not sign his own name under the creations which are commercial or paid advertisements. The editorial staff is entitled to be consulted by the editorial or publisher's board on all decisions important to the work of the mentioned staff.

V. THE JOURNALIST AND HIS COLLEAGUES

The journalist will not publish somebody else's work under his own name or initials.  He may not quote from any publication without citing the source.  He will not offer his work for publication simultaneously to more than one editor. Without the author's consent he does not intervene in the contents of a piece of writing.  He does not play down the authority and abilities of his colleagues. In the course of a collective project, he respects their needs and opinions.

VI. THE JOURNALIST AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST

The journalist holds  in due respect the State Order established by the Constitution, its democratic institutions, the valid Law and the generally accepted moral principles of society.  The journalist must not promote war, violence and aggressiveness as the means of international conflicts resolution; nor political, civic, racial, national, religious and other sorts of intolerance.  The journalist shows due respect to other states, nations, to their democratic traditions and institutions, to their culture and morals.

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