Journalist Ethics Commission slams media over “Artek” case

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 The Commission on Journalist Ethics has issued a statement in which it strongly criticizes the media outlets that published names, photos and medical documents about alleged victims of sexual abuse.

“In view of the publicity over the so-called “Artek case” and with regard to the specific features of its coverage in the media, the Commission on Journalist Ethics must state the following:

The Code of Ethics for Ukrainian Journalists stipulates: “Item 18: Journalists should be particularly careful in covering issues connected with children. Journalists and editors must have valid grounds for publicizing the private life of an underage person (persons)… It is unacceptable to divulge the names of underage persons (or details which enable their identification) who are connected with unlawful actions or were involved in events linked with violence”.

While in no way questioning the right of the media to cover events of public interest from all sides, the Commission would point out that in recent weeks numerous media outlets have repeatedly and flagrantly violated the above-mentioned norm. This resulted in the publication of:

-   the first and last names, as well as photographs, of children who may have been the victims of sexual violence;

-   medical information and the results of expert assessments;

-   numerous details of a possible crime.

The Commission considers that the publication of such information not only runs counter to the universally accepted principle of the presumption of innocence, not only hampers the investigation into the case, but mainly, inflicts irreparable damage on children who were, it is highly likely, subjected to sexual violence.

The Commission strongly condemns numerous cases where information which flagrantly violates the rights of abused children was unwarrantedly made public and circulated.  The Commission would draw the attention of employees and management of media outlets to the fact that discussion of this topic in a considerable number of media outlets would appear unacceptable from an ethical point of view. The tone of commentaries, assumptions and versions was often of a flagrant and offensive nature. From the point of view of the Commission, an unhealthy enjoyment of physiological details has nothing in common with the important task of informing society.

The Commission advises journalists, editors and the founders of media outlets to be guided in their everyday professional activity by universally accepted ethical norms regardless of whether or not they have signed the Code of Ethics for Ukrainian Journalists.

In view of the fact that politicians are most clearly trying to use the “Artek case” for their own purposes, yet again using the media for this, the Commission would remind all of Item 2 of the Code of Ethics: “Serving the interests of the authorities and not society is a violation of journalist ethics”

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