International Journalist Code of Ethics

The International Federation of Journalists  (IFJ) or the International Journalists Federation is the largest journalist organization in the world which was first formed under the name Federation Internationale des Journalistes in 1926 in Paris, France. This organization was then re-formed in 1946 as the International Organization of Journalists .

This organization lost member states to Western countries due to the Cold War and rejoined in 1952 in Brussels. Until now, this organization has 600,000 members from 139 countries around the world. IFJ campaigns for an international movement to protect press freedom and social justice to become stronger, free and independent journalists’ trade unions.

In 1986, through the World Congress of the International Journalists Federation, IFJ declared the principles of behavior for journalists by amending the results of the 1954 International Journalists Federation World Congress. This declaration was declared as a standard of professional behavior for journalists in collecting, sending, distributing, and giving commentary on news and information describing an incident.

Also read:

  • Philosophy of Communication
  • Psychology of Communication
  • Sociology of Communication
  • Language as a Communication Tool

The principles of journalist behavior as declared by IFJ are as follows:

  • The main task of journalists is to respect the truth and the public’s right to truth.
  • For this reason, in carrying out their main duties, journalists must adhere to the principles of freedom in collecting and publishing news honestly and journalists have the right to get fair comments and criticism.
  • Journalists must report incidents that relate only to the facts for which they know the source. Journalists are not allowed to withhold or hide important information or falsify documents. (Also read:  Communication Ethics)
  • Journalists should use appropriate methods when looking for news, photos or documents)
  • Journalists should make maximum efforts to correct or rectify inaccurate information that has already been published. (Also read:  Effective Communication)
  • Journalists should maintain professional confidentiality regarding the sources of information obtained with confidence. ( Communication Barriers)
  • Journalists must always be aware of the dangers of discrimination by the media, and make every effort to avoid various acts of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political opinions or other opinions, as well as social and national origins. (Also read:  Political Communication)
  • Journalists must consider the following actions as a form of violation such as:
    • Plagiarism or plagiarism.
    • Deliberate writing or reporting errors,
    • Slander or defamation or accusations that have no solid basis.
    • Receiving bribes in various forms with the aim of considering news or to hide facts. (Also read:  Business Communication)
  • The title of journalist is only assigned to those who adhere to the principles above when carrying out their duties as journalists.

Each country has its own provisions relating to the duties of journalists and journalists’ code of ethics. In general, this provision is adapted to the press system in force in the country concerned by still referring to the principles of journalist behavior that apply internationally.

Journalistic Code of Ethics in Indonesia

Tracing the history of journalism in Indonesia , it can be seen that during the 32 years of the New Order leadership, the Indonesian Journalists Association Code of Ethics was the only code of ethics that became a reference for journalists in Indonesia. This was because the government at that time only recognized the Indonesian Journalists Association as the only forum for Indonesian journalists. However, when the reform era began in 1999, this provision was revoked, resulting in the emergence of various other journalist organizations in Indonesia. (Also read:  Persuasive Communication )

Each journalist organization has and implements its own code of ethics for its members. So that journalists’ organizations have a reference code of ethics that applies to all journalist organizations.

Therefore, the Press Council, which acts as the front guard of the Indonesian press, has a mandate from Law Number 40 of 1999 concerning the Press to compile and oversee the implementation of a code of ethics for journalists. What is meant by the Journalistic Code of Ethics according to Law Number 40 of 1999 concerning the Press is a code of ethics agreed upon by journalists’ organizations and stipulated by the press council.

For this reason, on 5-7 August 1999, the Press Council held a coordination meeting in Bandung and then ratified the Indonesian Journalist Code of Ethics or KEWI and signed by 24 journalist organizations in Indonesia. (Also read:  Visual Communication )

Seven years later, to be precise in 2006, the Indonesian Journalists Code of Ethics underwent a revision and changed its name to the Journalistic Code of Ethics which was established through the Decree of the Press Council Number 03 / SK-DP / III / 2006 concerning the Journalistic Code of Ethics and was also signed by 26 journalist organizations. on March 14, 2006. (read: internet as a medium of communication )

The Journalistic Code of Ethics based on the Decree of the Press Council Number 03 / SK-DP / III / 2006 concerning the Journalistic Code of Ethics is as follows:

  • Article 1: Indonesian journalists are independent, produce news that is accurate, balanced and does not have bad intentions. (Also read:  social interaction process )
  • Article 2: Indonesian journalists adopt professional methods in carrying out journalistic duties.
  • Article 3: Indonesian journalists always examine information, report in a balanced manner, do not confuse facts and judgmental opinions, and apply the presumption of innocence.
  • Article 4: Indonesian journalists do not make false, slanderous, sadistic and obscene news stories.
  • Article 5: Indonesian journalists do not name and broadcast the identities of victims of immoral crimes and do not mention the identities of children who are perpetrators of crimes.
  • Article 6: Indonesian journalists do not abuse their profession and do not accept bribes.
  • Article 7: Indonesian journalists have the right to refuse to protect sources who are not willing to know their identity or whereabouts, respect the provisions of the embargo, background information, and ” off the record ” in accordance with the agreement. (Read: Types of Social Interaction )
  • Article 8: Indonesian journalists do not write or broadcast news based on prejudice or discrimination against someone on the basis of differences in ethnicity, race, color, religion, gender and language and do not demean the dignity of the weak, poor, sick, mentally disabled or physically disabled
  • Article 9: Indonesian journalists respect the rights of sources regarding their private lives, except for the public interest. (Read:  communication theory according to experts )
  • Article 10: Indonesian journalists immediately revoke, rectify, and correct false and inaccurate news accompanied by apologies to readers, listeners and / or viewers
  • Article 11: Indonesian journalists serve the right of reply and the right of correction proportionally

As a code of ethics agreed upon by journalists’ organizations and stipulated by the press council, it can be said that the Journalistic Code of Ethics is a corridor for Indonesian journalists in carrying out their duties. This is in order to guarantee press freedom and guarantee the public’s right to obtain accurate and accountable information in accordance with the Indonesian communication system .

Journalism Ethics

Journalism ethics that apply today, both in Indonesia and throughout the world, cannot be separated from the history of modern journalism that took place in Europe during the 17th century. Journalism ethics is a set of responsible journalism norms or rules that determine what journalists and news organizations should do in carrying out their role for society ( Ward , 2009: 295).

Also read:

  • Theory of Uses and Gratifications
  • Political Communication Theory
  • Interpersonal Communication Theory

The main task of journalism is to determine how the existing norms apply to various ethical issues today. Some of the problem areas or ethical issues that often arise are as follows:

  • Accuracy and verification– related to the verification and context required to publish a story and the importance of the role of editing and “ gate-keeping ”
  • Independence and loyalty– related to the independence of journalists while maintaining ethical relationships with employees, editors, advertisers, sources, law enforcement officials, and the public
  • Fraud and creation– related to the methods used by journalists to get news (See also:  language as a means of communication )
  • Graphic image and image manipulation– related to the use of images by journalists in the news (Read: Visual Communication )
  • Sources and confidentiality– related to the journalist’s commitment to maintaining the confidentiality of news sources when requested. (read also:  Branch of Communication Sciences )
  • Special situations– related to reporting in various unusual situations
  • Ethics in each type of media– related to the application of journalistic ethics which does not only apply to mainstream journalism but also to internet journalism considering the development of the internet as a medium of communication that is increasingly rapid
  1. Ethical History of Journalism

According to Stephen JA Ward (2009: 297), the history of ethical journalism can be divided into 5 (five) stages, namely:

Appearance in the 16th and 17th centuries

The development of the discourse on journalism ethics that emerged during the 16th and 17th centuries in Western Europe. The invention of the printing press by Gutenbeg in the mid-15th century provided room for the birth of print media editors who created periodic newspapers under state control.

In addition to the still simplicity of the journalistic process as a communication process at that time, the editors tried to convince readers that what was conveyed through the newspapers was the truth based on justifiable facts. (Also read:  History of Journalism in Indonesia )

The Emergence of Public Ethics

The creation of public ethics as a credo for newspapers that grow from the realm of public enlightenment. Journalists at that time were claimed to be the protectors of society from the government. The press at that time played a major role in the occurrence of reform and even revolution in a country. In the late 18th century, the press was socially recognized as a social institution.

Liberal Press Theory

The evolution of the idea of ​​the Fourth Power or Fourth Estate into liberal press theory during the 19th century. Liberal theory begins with the premise that freedom and independence of the press are very important in protecting public liberty and campaigning for liberal reform.

The simultaneous development of criticism of the development of liberal doctrine during the 20th century. The development and criticism that arose is a response to reducing the liberal model. At this stage, journalists and ethicists form professional ethics for objective journalism based on social responsibility theory.

New Journalism

The development of various new forms of journalism that began at the end of the 20th century. This stage is marked by the growing number of amateur citizen journalists and bloggers in journalistic activities. They use interactive multi-media or modern communication media such as social media which is a challenge for ethical journalism issues regarding verification and “ gate-keeping ” considering the influence of social media and the effects of social media on society.

At this stage, journalists are required to have a good understanding of media literacy so that they can convey the right information using the right media according to the community’s ability to absorb existing information. (Also read:  Theory of Phenomenology )

This stage is also influenced by the emergence of 4 (four) normative theories of the press such as liberal theory, social responsibility and objectivity theory, interpretative and activist theory, as well as community ethics and care which are then seen as the main approach in journalism ethics. (Also read: Media Literacy )

  1. Journalism Ethical Approach

Furthermore, Stephen JA Ward in Journalism Ethics (2009: 298-300) states that there are 4 (four) approaches in journalism ethics which are also known as 4 (four) press theories, namely liberal theory, social theory and objectivity, interpretive theory and activist. , as well as community ethics and care.

  • Liberal Theory

The liberal theory views that journalists must unite as a press that is independent in providing information to the public and acts as a watchdog for the government so that there is no abuse of power by the government. (Read also:  Assertive Communication )

  • Social Responsibility and Objectivity

Social responsibility and objectivity are forms of response to liberal theory. Social responsibility theory views that the press as a social institution has a social responsibility towards society, the nation and the State. (Also read:  Theory of Silence Spiral )

The press as a social institution and a vehicle for mass communication is one way social communication is institutionalized. The public hopes that various information will be presented through mass communication media that can reach the wider community simultaneously. Meanwhile, what is meant by objectivity is developing and building an objective press based on other professional ethical guidelines.

In the early 1900s to the mid-20th century, objectivity was an ideal ethical standard for mainstream newspapers in the United States, Canada, and others but was less popular in Europe. In the 1920s, the association of journalism studies programs in America adopted a formal code called objectivity in reporting, independent of government and business influence, and provided a clear boundary between news and opinion. (Also read:  Agenda Setting Theory )

The result is an elaboration of a set of rules or regulations contained in the newsroom to ensure that journalists only broadcast stories that are actually facts.

  • Interpretation and Activism

Both approaches believe that journalists have a much more to do than just writing stories about facts. In the modern journalism tradition, journalists openly become partisans of a political party and funders, causing bias when conveying information to the public. (Also read:  Da’wah Communication )

However, the emergence of interpretive journalism in the early 90s has resulted in journalists no longer being partisans of political parties or funders. Journalists become more rational and objective in conveying information to the public regardless of the influence of any party. Meanwhile, activist journalists began to define informing society as a form of opposition to the status quo and war. (Read: Non Verbal Communication )

Activist journalists seek to regulate public opinion on various government and private policies that are considered unfair to society. Today, journalists see themselves as a combination informant, interpreter and advisor to society.

  • Society and Care

The application of societal ethics and feminist care ethics also has an influence on journalism ethics. Both provide a critique of liberal theory and as an alternative to liberal theory. Both of these approaches emphasize the principles of minimizing harm and will be accountable by reducing the emphasis on pro-active principles. ( read also: Communication Ethics on the Internet 

In comparison, the liberal approach emphasizes freedom and individual rights, while the societal and nursing approach emphasizes the impact of journalism on communal values ​​and maintaining relationships.

Compared to the uses and gratifications theory , the agenda setting theory , and the silence spiral theory  which is a mass communication theory that emphasizes the effects of mass media on audiences, the four theories above are mass communication theories related to the structure and appearance of the media.

Those are some of the ethical approaches to journalism which are the root ideas for the preparation and application of journalistic behavior guidelines. (Also read:  Modern Communication Media )

Benefits of Studying Journalists’ Code of Ethics

By understanding journalists’ code of ethics or journalistic code of ethics, it is hoped that it can bring benefits in increasing knowledge about journalists’ code of ethics or journalistic code of ethics and applying it as a guide for journalists’ behavior so that the press as the fourth force in a democratic country can carry out its duties and functions to provide accurate and accountable information. and the truth can be accounted for.

Read: Interpersonal Communication Theories

That is a bit about the journalism code of ethics which includes journalism ethics, the history of journalism ethics, the approach to journalism ethics and the journalistic code of ethics that is applied in Indonesia and internationally. May be useful.


by Abdullah Sam
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