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29.09.2012

Memorandum on standards of coverage of election campaign

   

   Internews Ukraine and the Institute for the Development of the Regional Press have drawn up a Memorandum on Standards of Coverage of the Election Campaign.  The Memorandum was discussed and supported by the journalist community in the Crimea; the Mykolaiv, Odessa and Kherson oblasts.

They invite other journalists to join them.

1.  Adhere to principles of truthfulness, impartiality and balance in providing information about all candidates and political parties, as well as about any events of the 2012 election campaign.

2.  Uphold standards of editorial independence.  The information content of each programme or publication is determined by the editorial office and / or the creative editorial team.

3.  Do not avoid covering information of public importance even where there are “recommendations” to refrain from such publications. Demands to agree information before it is circulated, bans on circulating information or encouragement to circulate certain items are forms of censorship and prohibited by Ukrainian legislation.

4.   Avoid publishing “commissioned material” about candidates and parties paid for not in accordance with agreements on political advising. Each case of commissioned material without its being clearly marked as advertising must be viewed as a flagrant violation of ethical journalist standards and should face disciplinary measures.

5.  The principle of fairness means that the media provide a candidate or person involved in the electoral process with the opportunity to swiftly react with regard to information they consider wrong.

6.  Clearly distinguish between information reports and analytical material.

7.  In information adhere to standards of swift response; accuracy; reliability; fullness and clarity of expression; avoid excessively figurative language. Reports should be based on facts that have been checked and should be objective. Rumours must not form the basis of reports.

8.  Commentary and other value judgements are subject therefore they cannot be proven or disproven. However they should be based on a minimum factual basis and be honest, i.e. they should not conceal  or deny real facts and / or manipulate the audience.

9.   Any statements from third parties must be quoted without distorting their original content. Direct reference to the source of the information quoted is obligatory.

10.  Preparation of material which provides full and accurate analysis of the arguments of political parties and candidates, as well as their possibilities for carrying out their promises is a priority.

11.  Do not use your media for publication of unverified information provided by candidates about their opponents and deliberate information leaks without additional journalist checks and providing opportunity for comments.

12.  Avoid creating material which focuses attention solely on the positive or negative aspects of the activities of members of the election campaign.

13.  Information should be received through lawful means. Secret taping may only be used after the journalist has become convinced of its public significance for voters, and that it is impossible to receive the information through open means.  Decisions regarding secret investigations should be made at management level of the media source.

14.  Journalists should protect their sources of information. Details which make it possible to identify the source may only be demanded with a court order issued on the basis of law.

15.  Journalists should observe the principle of respect for human rights, including the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy.

16.  The media may not be used to circulate reports propagating violence, xenophobia, discrimination and other forms of intolerance. 

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