Code to end 'journalism for sale'

An initiative aimed at stamping out bribery in journalism is being backed by the International Federation of Journalists and leading public relations organisations.

The IFJ is one of six organisations supporting a charter of principles designed to foster greater transparency in the dealings between PRs and journalists.

The principles, embodied in the Charter on Media Transparency developed by the International Public Relations Association, are that: 

News material should appear as a result of the news judgement of journalists and not as a result of any payment or inducements.
 Material involving payment should be clearly identified as advertising, sponsorship or promotion.
 No journalist or media representative should suggest news coverage will appear for any reason other than its merit.
 When samples or loans of products or services are necessary for a journalist to review, the length of time should be agreed in advance and loaned products should be returned.
 The media should institute written policies regarding the receipt of gifts or discounted products and services, which journalists should be required to sign.

IFJ general secretary Aidan White said: “The problem of ‘journalism for sale’ or paid-for material posing as legitimate news reporting is one of the greatest challenges facing the media today.

“The practice erodes public confidence, undermines professionalism and makes a mockery of ethical values.

This set of principles is a welcome step from within the industry to get the mission of journalism back on track and to eliminate all forms of corruption.”

The other groups supporting the statement of principles are the International Press Institute, Transparency International, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management, the Institute for Public Relations, Research and Education, and the International Public Relations Association.

By Jon Slattery

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