Media and Trafficking in Human Beings Guidelines was authored by the Ethical Journalism Network as part of a project funded by the European Union and implemented by an international consortium led by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). © 2017. Republished with permission. 


Ethical newsrooms are essential for quality journalism. Coverage of human trafficking requires knowledge of and attachment to the core principles of ethical reporting. These are:

1. Accuracy and fact-based reporting. Avoid malicious lies, fake news and unverified information.

2. Independence. Act according to your own conscience. Do not peddle anti-migrant propaganda or be a voice-box for political or other vested interests.

3. Impartiality. Remember to tell all sides of the story. In particular, give voice to the victims and survivors of the trauma of trafficking as well as reflecting the legitimate concerns of people living in host countries.

4. Humanity. Journalism should do no harm. Show compassion in your reporting. Point towards solutions to the physical, emotional and crisis that trafficked person endure.

5. Accountability and transparency. Be responsible for your work. Correct errors and always disclose who you are and be open in your methods.

Journalists should apply these basic values in all aspects of their work. Remember journalists have a specific duty to show respect to people who are the victims of trauma such as trafficking.The Code of Ethics of the National Press Photographers Association in the United States, for example, states:

“Treat all subjects with respect and dignity.Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.”8


8. A full list of codes and standards for journalists is available at

Main image: cover images courtesy of Flickr CC: Peter Haden (2014), US Department of Agriculture (2013), Rob Waddington (2014), Esther Vargas (2012)


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