Taking Action: the First Steps
The ideas set out here will remain mere aspirations unless practical steps are taken by media and journalists leaders in Egypt to put them into effect.
Not least important is the need for professional solidarity among media professionals and a commitment to work together in favour of the following concrete actions:
Media houses in Egypt should hold internal meetings at the highest level to assess what needs to be done to establish effective internal forms of self-regulation including:
- drawing up mission statements
- adopting a code of conduct
- ethical guidelines for journalists
- rules of good governance including avoiding all conflicts of interest
- establishing a system for dealing with public complaints and concerns
- ethical obligations in contracts of employment
- social dialogue to agree minimum standards of social and professional rights and safety and protection of media staff.
Egyptian media and journalists groups, in co-operation with relevant civil society groups, should establish a process for creating an industry-wide body for self-regulation of media and journalism.
This process should involve investigation of the most appropriate structure for such an authority covering:
- Legal status and mandate
- Membership: including representation of the public
- Aims and objectives
- Annual Reporting of its activities
Dialogue with Government:
Media and journalists’ groups should establish a structure for dialogue with state agencies and representatives of government to convince them of the benefits of media regulating themselves. Particular attention must be paid to media under government supervision or dependent on state funding as well as the need for new legal rules to strengthen media freedom and independent journalism including:
- Access to information laws
- Reform of state-run media and creation of genuine public service media
- Review and repeal of all laws that endanger or compromise free journalism
International Code of Principles for the Conduct of Journalism
(International Federation of Journalists, 1954)
This Declaration is proclaimed as a standard of professional conduct for journalists engaged in gathering, transmitting, disseminating and commenting on news and information in describing events.
- Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.
- In pursuance of this duty, the journalist shall at all times defend the principles of freedom in the honest collection and publication of news, and of the right of fair comment and criticism.
- The journalist shall report only in accordance with facts of which he/she knows the origin. The journalist shall not suppress essential information or falsify documents.
- The journalist shall use only fair methods to obtain news, photographs and documents.
- The journalist shall do the utmost to rectify any published information which is found to be harmfully inaccurate.
- The journalist shall observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information obtained in confidence.
- The journalist shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national or social origins.
- The journalist shall regard as grave professional offences the following:
Calumny, slander, libel, and unfounded accusations;
Acceptance of a bribe in any form in consideration of publication or suppression.
- Journalists worthy of the name shall deem it their duty to observe faithfully the principles stated above. Within the general law of each country the journalist shall recognise in professional matters the jurisdiction of colleagues only, to the exclusion of every kind of interference by governments or others.