The basic objective of news dissemination is to ensure that the people know what is happening and understand the possible causes so they can form their own opinions and arrive at their own conclusions. The most valuable asset of a journalist, therefore, remains public respect, which must first be earned and then maintained through adherence to the highest possible standards of professional integrity.
This is why, if the journalistic community is to play its due role in Pakistan, it must submit its own behavior to the most rigorous scrutiny. Codification of our ethics is therefore imperative.
Dawn has always strived to discharge its duties and to encourage its staff members to discharge their responsibilities in line with the ideals of journalistic ethics and principles. In keeping with this effort, the following constitutes the baseline standards of a Code of Media Ethics for the members of Dawn’s editorial team, in conformity with universally accepted norms.
Code of Media Ethics
- Must uphold the highest professional and ethical standards and ensure that the information/editorial content being provided by him/her is fair, unbiased, and accurate.
- Shall avoid falsification by distortion, selection, or misrepresentation.
- Shall do his/her utmost to correct inaccuracies.
- Shall, at all times, defend the freedom of the press and other media in relation to the collection of information and the expression of comment and criticism.
- Shall strive to eliminate distortion and news suppression.
- Shall not accept any personal favors, bribes, or inducements or allow any other factor, such as advertising revenue for the Dawn Media Group, to influence the performance of his/her professional duties.
- Shall not take private advantage of information gained in the course of his/her professional duties.
- Shall protect confidential sources of information which can be shared with the line manager and the Editor.
- Shall mention a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, caste, sect, colour, creed, illegitimacy, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation ONLY if this information is strictly relevant.
- Shall neither originate nor process material that encourages discrimination, ridicule, prejudice, or hatred on any of the above-mentioned accounts.
- Shall obtain information, data, photographs, and illustrations only by straightforward means; the use of other means can be justified only for reasons of overriding public interest, and with the specific permission of the editor.
- Shall not intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless it is for reasons of overriding public interest, and then only with the specific permission of the Editor.
- Shall not exceed the limits of ethical caution and fair comment in his/her zeal to break a story.
- Shall not glorify the perpetrators of any illegitimate acts of violence committed under any garb or cause, including honour and religion.
- Shall take care while reporting on militants/insurgents/extremists of the need to balance public interest with the danger of ‘advertising’ extremist ideologies.
- Shall not print or upload gory images of violence, mutilated bodies, and victims of any tragedy unless this is inevitable and in the public interest.
- Shall take the greatest care while reporting running stories involving sectarian clashes, communal disturbances, ethnic strife, hostage situations, etc, so as not to cause further deterioration of the situation, jeopardise lives or operations, or fan public discontent and anger.
- Shall not identify or photograph minor children and infants who are the result of sexual abuse, forced marriage or any sort of irresponsible partnering of their parents.
- Shall not identify or photograph rape victims or people living with HIV/AIDS without their permission. In case of minors, particular care will be taken and permission will be sought from their parent/ guardian after discussing potential implications.
- Shall not identify the accused in rape cases till the latter has been indicted by the court.
- Shall not plagiarise, and must honour copyright when using textual, video or image material from external sources.
- Shall not be guilty of gender discrimination, either in the dispensation of his/her professional duties or in his/her interaction with fellow journalists. Shall exhibit sensitivity to gender-role stereotyping by refraining from exploitation and by reflecting the intellectual and emotional equality of both genders whilst writing.
- Shall follow at all times the guidelines on employees’ use of social media.
- Shall not undermine the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and democracy, and take care to abide by national and international laws and conventions while reporting/commenting on regional and international affairs.