1. The Purpose of this Code of Ethics:
a) To establish binding behavioral rules for natural persons and legal entities who publish periodicals or non-periodic publications in printed or digital form, intended for distribution in the Slovak Republic (hereinafter referred to as “medium”), editorial boards of periodicals and non-periodic publications in printed or digital form intended for or distributed in the Slovak Republic (hereinafter referred to as the “editorial boards”), and natural persons performing the role of a journalist by profession or as an activity in the Slovak Republic (hereinafter referred to as the “journalist”), press agencies operating in the Slovak Republic, information service providers, web portals, editorial boards or individuals who decide to proceed towards any of the above;
b) to serve as a guide for natural and legal persons (e.g. managing editors, commentators, editors, cameramen, photographers, graphic designers, bloggers) who are involved in the creation of content disseminated to the public, regardless of the technological platform utilized
c) to ensure that all content published in print and online is in accordance with the general binding legislative acts of the Slovak Republic and in accordance with good morals.
d) to inform the public regarding the ethical rules of journalism.
2. Adapting to the Code of Ethics does not prevent the media or the editorial boards, in addition to the Code of Ethics, from the application of their own ethical principles, which do not contradict the already established Code of Ethics.
II. BASIC PRINCIPLES OF JOURNALISTIC WORK
1. Justice and decency are the primary values regarding personal freedom in journalistic work. In their performance, a journalist strives to highlight and promote these values in society.
2. The main principles which a journalist adheres to in their work are impartiality, balance, objectivity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility and thorough verification of facts.
3. A journalist ensures that their public expression does not contradict the basic principles of journalistic work highlighted in Sections 1 and 2 of this article.
4. A journalist publishing content online is obliged to act in accordance with the Code of Refining Content on the Internet IAB Slovakia (Kódex preberania obsahu na internete IAB Slovakia) which has been approved by the General Assembly of the IAB Slovakia Internet Advertising Association on January 21, 2015.
III. THE JOURNALIST AND THE PUBLIC
1. A journalist is obliged to thoroughly verify all information they publish. The information is usually verified by referencing at least two sources that are independent of each other.
2. A journalist is invariably obligated to reference the source of their information, in the matter of information which is generally unrecognized or information which is unrecognized within the industry a journalist is committed to. The source is not to be referenced if it is secretive or confidential. The utilization of such sources is permissible in accordance with the provisions highlighted in this Code of Ethics on the Use of Extraordinary Resources.
3. A journalist or the medium does not publish any information which they know to be false. Trustworthy information is based on facts and their objective interpretation, considering the real context of the described event, without distorting the objective reality and concealing (omitting) parts of existing facts and context.
4. Agencies are responsible for the veracity and accuracy of the agency’s textual, audio, audiovisual and visual information, hence journalists are not required to verify it. In the event of any doubt regarding the accuracy of the data provided by the agency service, the journalist is obligated to verify the information with another independent source.
5. A journalist never manipulates text, images, audio-visuals, audio recordings or photographs. The only permissible technical modifications include the ones with the objective to improve the quality or intelligibility of the material. Collages, montages, reconstructions or illustrative visualizations must be clearly marked or indicated.
6. The journalist and the medium have the right and the obligation to refuse to publish false, distorted or incomplete information.
7. The titles of articles or programs must not be false in relation to the content of the text. The same applies to trailers and advertisements intended for the promotion of articles and programs.
8. Comments and opinions must be clearly identified and distinguished from news and facts. Opinions and evaluative judgments expressed in the commentary must be based on and logically follow a sufficient factual basis.
9. Classifieds and paid announcements must be clearly identified. In the matter of commercial text, the article may not insinuate that it is independent work belonging to the journalist. The journalist and the medium have the right and the obligation to refuse the publication of a hidden advertisement.
10.A journalist must not present previous work as new work.
11. In the act of performing their work or in any connection therewith, a journalist must not accept gifts or other advantages, which could potentially impair their impartiality and objectivity, or which may be construed as an attempt to influence their work. Exceptions to this rule are small promotional items and refreshments which are regularly provided during press conferences and other events intended for the public and media representatives.
12. If the costs of a journalist’s travels, other benefits or their participation has been financed by someone other than the journalist themselves or the medium/editorial board, they must inform the reader, listener or spectator accordingly.
13. A journalist has the right to personal integrity. If they find themselves in a conflict of interest, especially if they are working on a topic which concerns or may concern the journalist themselves, closely related persons (§ 116 of the Civil Code) of the journalist, economic interests of the journalist; they shall proceed to inform their editorial board about this matter. With the consent of the editorial board, the journalist may continue to work on the given topic, in spite of the possible conflict of interest, provided that the public is appropriately informed about the possible conflict of interest.
14. If an editorial board collectively encounters a conflict of interest, particularly informing the public regarding the activities of the media or a person directly or indirectly controlling a medium, they must inform the public accordingly. A journalist may not utilize unpublicized information they have attained in the performance of their work for their own benefit.
15. A journalist does not utilize the privileges offered by their profession for their own benefit; they do not authenticate themselves by utilizing their journalist press pass or by stating their association with a medium in situations which are directly unrelated to their journalistic profession.
16. A journalist does not engage in politics, in the event that their political activities could result in a conflict of interest and challenge/impair their impartiality or objectivity.
17. If a journalist discovers that they have published inaccurate information, they are obligated to do everything for its immediate correction, even without the involvement of the editorial board or any parties concerned.
IV. THE JOURNALIST AND THE OBJECT OF THEIR INTEREST
1. With the exemption of the matter being a question of public interest, the journalist may not publicize information related to the exclusive privacy of a specific natural person and publish personal records of their character, without their consent. Except in the cases that the natural person concerned raises suspicion regarding illegality or if their actions arouse outrage, regardless of the information or records published related to the public interest and the sentence which has been passed, a journalist may not devalue the name, honor and dignity of the natural person concerned.
2. A journalist respects the presumption of innocence, including in relation to persons suspected of a criminal offense, or accused of a criminal offense in every stage of criminal proceedings. They disclose the full names of the suspected persons, the disclosure of their names is contingent upon important public interest.
3. A journalist must not incite any direct or indirect form of hatred, intolerance or discrimination based, in particular, on race, worldview, religion, ethnic origin, age, social status, gender or sexual orientation. Information regarding the affiliation of people to a minority is only disclosed if this information is relevant to the context of the report.
4. A journalist respects the basic principles of the democratic and legal state, as well as the constitutional order of the Slovak Republic as applicable law and general moral principles.
5. A journalist respects other states, nations, their traditions, culture, religion or other beliefs.
6. A journalist does not, directly or indirectly, support any form of human rights violations, violence or environmental damage.
7. A journalist always uses appropriate means of expression.
V. THE JOURNALIST AND SOURCE OF INFORMATION
1. A journalist must obtain textual, audio, audio-visual, video recordings/images and materials for articles and other work in such a way that their identity is disclosed clearly, including their full name, their journalistic profession, as well as their affiliation to a particular medium. In the matter of recording telephone conversations, the journalist is obligated to inform all participants in advance, unless the given situation is the one outlined in Part V. Point 9.
2. A journalist must keep their promises regarding the protection of the source’s identity, until they (the journalist) are exempt from this obligation by the person who is the source of the information obtained.
3. A journalist is eligible to produce text, audio, audio-visual and visual recordings during public appearances and gatherings without the need for consent from the performing individuals, considering their actions do not violate copyright laws or any related laws. The journalist may proceed equally in the process of creating records and collecting information in public spaces.
4. A journalist must approach the following cases with an increased sense of responsibility and sensitivity: persons who have no experience in communicating with journalists; those who are unaware of the consequences of their actions; persons who have found themselves in a particularly difficult life situation, in particular victims or witnesses of crimes, accidents or other events which may cause considerable emotional stress to the individual.
5. Only in exceptional cases shall a journalist utilize children and adolescents as a source of information, whilst paying special regard to their moral and emotional development.
6. If it is not precluded with regard to the communication of matters related to the public interest, the journalist is obligated to protect the privacy and legitimate interests of the persons consulted in para. 4 and 5, and must not undermine their trust.
7. A journalist is not obligated to request additional correction, non-disclosure or non-transmission of information obtained in accordance with this Code of Ethics from the respondent’s side, who previously consented to the disclosure. In valid cases, they may consent to its subsequent authorization before the start of the interview. If the respondent requests for authorization, the journalist is obliged to inform the respondent that it is only possible to clarify the respondent’s direct citations, not to change the meaning of the answers or to delete the answers that were recorded in the original interview. Authorization of the record or text will be exclusively limited to the statements provided by the respondents themselves. The journalist may not involve themselves in an agreement that would allow the respondent to consent to the use of their statement only in the context of the whole program or article.
8. A journalist may utilize extraordinary means in his work, in the matter of the circumstances mentioned below:
a) the use of secret methods to gather information, including the usage of a hidden camera or microphone
b) use of secret and confidential sources
c) publicizing unverified information
d) publicizing information which is related to the privacy of an individual who is not publicly involved and whose privacy is otherwise protected
9.Extraordinary means of journalistic work may only be utilized in the event that the utilization of these methods aims to fulfill an important public interest, considering the information is not obtainable by the public interest in any other manner.
10. The use of extraordinary means of journalistic work must be approved by the highest level in the editorial board.
11. The use of extraordinary means must be adequately explained to the recipient of the text or broadcast of the program in which the preparation was used.
12. An important public interest is defined as an interest, which has the potential to bestow significant benefits upon a substantial part/section of an organization, contributes to the protection of basic rights and freedom or the protection of democratic principles as well as the legal state.
13. Important public interest is particularly defined by:
a) the inhibition of abuse of public power
b) the proper functioning of a political system and public institutions
c) the protection of life, health, safety and the property of citizens
d) the protection of morals and basic social values
e) the protection of the environment, cultural monuments or cultural heritage.
VI. THE JOURNALIST AND THE EDITORIAL BOARD
1. A journalist in a managing position actively promotes the act of complying with this Code of Ethics.
2. Editorial boards and journalists in management positions must protect the expressive freedom of journalists and if necessary, provide them with adequate legal protection.
3. A journalist must not be compelled to engage in the activity or the participation of producing/generating opinions which fundamentally contradict their own conscience; for the implementation of this right, the journalist cannot be harmed by means of other rights.
4. A contribution intended for publication, considering the content has been revised by the editorial board in a way that resulted in the modification of the original meaning, can only be published with the consent of the author.
5. Such consent is required regardless of the contribution being published under a trademark, pseudonym or anonymity.
6. A journalist is obligated to cooperate in litigation and administrative proceedings conducted against his colleagues or the media, if such proceedings are related to the activities of a journalist.
7. Editorial boards and journalists in management positions respect the diverse pool of opinions and equal opportunities regardless of sex, age, race, nationality, ethnic origin, social status, sexual orientation, religion, political, social and cultural background of journalists.
VII. THE JOURNALIST AND THEIR COLLEAGUES
1. A journalist must not publish somebody else’s material such as text, part of a text, a photograph, other work or records and proceed to label it as their own.
2. If a journalist wishes to publish the same or a similar article in more than one medium, they must notify the medium. This is also applicable to cases involving two journalists from two different mediums, who publish an interview conducted with the same person simultaneously. However, in the matter of their own medium, the journalist only mentions their own name.
3. A journalist has a duty to reveal and publicize any unethical and illegal conduct performed by his colleagues.
1. Censorship is defined by the restriction, intentional distortion, non-disclosure of information, sound, image or audiovisual records, if it is a matter of political, economic or personal reasons.
2. Censorship is incompatible with the ethical rules of journalistic work and is, therefore, prohibited.
3. The management of each editorial board has the right to make decisions on the topics to be covered by journalists and other contributors to the editorial office, to determine the method of their processing and to decide not to publish the work. Revising and editing texts, audio, video or audio-visual recordings is not considered censorship.
4. Revision is defined by the adaptation of a text, audio, video or audio-visual recording in terms of semantic structure, dramaturgical construction, material and factual accuracy, grammatical correctness and intelligibility.
5. Editing is defined by the management of the entire process from acquiring to (the) handling of information intended for issuing or broadcasting, decisions regarding the publication or inclusion in the broadcast, length, genre, order in which it is to be published or broadcast as well as the context in which it is publicized.
IX. ACCEDING TO THE CODE
1. This Code of Ethics may be acceded to by any professional organization, medium, print agency, information service provider, web portal, editorial board or any individual, if they notify AONE regarding their accession. Correspondingly, this person may revoke their accession to the Code of Ethics.
2. The list of organizations and people who have acceded to the Code of Ethics is published on the AONE website, where the current version of the Code of Ethics is also published.
X. TRANSITIONAL AND FINAL PROVISIONS
1. Tento Etický kódex schválil Zbor zástupcov Asociácie na ochranu novinárskej etiky (ZZ AONE), ktorého členovia sú reprezentanti SSN, AVT a IAB Slovakia, na svojom zasadnutí dňa 17. 6. 2017, a nadobúda platnosť nasledujúci deň od schválenia.
2. The decision of the Board of Directors of SSN on the approval of the amendment to the Code of Ethics for Journalists from June 8, 2017, is considered an accession to this Code of Ethics.
3. The current version of this Code of Ethics, which was valid from the 9th SSN Assembly, held on November 5, 2010, implemented on January 1, 2011, only expires with the consent of SSN.
4. Organizations and individuals who have acceded to the previous version of the Code in the preceding years, remain as entities registered to the current version of Code of Ethics for Journalists.