The individual journalist
1.1. Self-presentation: Journalists have a responsibility to pro-vide the public with accurate information. They should also con-duct them¬selves with propriety all times when performing their duties.
1.2. Dress: Journalists shall dress in a manner that suits the occasion.
1.3. Language: An interview should not be conducted in a lan-guage the interviewee is not competent in.
1.4. Interviews: Since it is not an obligation for any person, public or otherwise, to talk to journalists, information should not be obtained by using threats or blackmail. Likewise, journalists should not insult, curse or embarrass interviewees.
1.5. Training and Conflict of Interest: Journalists shall en-sure that a code of ethics should be included in any journalism training. Journalists shall not put themselves in situations or shall not associate with situations or professions that will bring a conflict of interest with their journalism profession.
THE JOURNALIST'S WORK.
2.1. Material: All material produced by journalists should be credible, balanced and fair to all sides. ln the same vein, head-lines should reflect the gist of the story to avoid cheating the readers, listeners or viewers. Sensationalisation and specula-tion should be avoided. The same should be the case with dis-criminatory language, slants involving racism, tribalism and relig-ion, etc.
2.2. The news must be distinguished from opinion and all lan-guage must be decent.
2.3. Picture Presentations: Avoid traumatising, shocking or obscene pictures as much as possible Pictures must be used appropriately not for the sake of sales promotion. ln long-lens photography, journalists shall not photograph individuals on their private property without their consent. Private property shall be defined as an individual's or a group of people's residence to-gether with their garden(s) and out-buildings
2.4. Co-relation: Pictures must relate to the content of the story, (e.g. "A funeral picture must reflect the mood of the occa-sion).
2.5. Voice Presentation on Radio or TV: Voices must be neutral and reflect an objective picture of the event under cover-age. Note: on TV what matters is the material presented not the personality. (More details in the chapter on General Principles and Issues)
2.6. Quotation: Whenever a person is being quoted, exact words said must be used. If there are any additions or subtrac-tions, they must be indicated.
General principles and issues
All journalists in Malawi have a duty to maintain the highest pro-fessional and ethical standards. To this effect, they must be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know the truth. In order to achieve this, the following must be ob-served at all times:
3.1. Accuracy: Journalists should strive for accuracy and thor-oughness in the writing of news,
3.2. Correction: Whenever it is recognised that a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report has been published, it should be corrected promptly and with due promi-nence and an apology published wherever appropriate.
3.3. Objectivity: In reporting the news, journalists shall strive to be objective.
3.4. News and Opinion: Journalists shall distinguish clearly between news reports, speculation and expressions of opinion.
3.5. Headlines: Newspaper headlines should be fully war-ranted by the contents of the articles they accompany. Photo-graphs and telecasts should give an accurate picture of an event and not highlight a minor incident out of context.
3.6. Fair Play and Balance:
(I) Journalists must make all reasonable effort to present all sides of the story.
(II) A fair opportunity for reply should be given to organisa-tions or individuals whenever necessary.
3.7. Advertising: Advertisements and public announcements shall be accurate and clearly distinguishable from news.
3.8. The Law and the Journalist: In reporting matters that are or may be litigated, the journalist shall avoid practices which would tend to interfere with the right of an individual to a fair trial. A matter that is pending court decision must not be com-mented on.
3.9. The Right to Know: While facilitating the public's right to
know journalists shall observe the following limits:
(I) Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confiden-tial sour¬ces of information.
(II) Journalists should not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless, by law, they are free to do so. Similarly, journalists should not, even where the law does not prohibit it, identify children under the age of 13 who are involved in cases concerning sexual offences, whether as victims, or as wit-ness or defendants.
(III) Journalists should avoid prejudicial or pejorative refer-ence to a person's race, colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or handicap.
(IV) Journalists should avoid reference to a person's race, colour, region, sex, or ethnic origin unless such reference is relevant to the story.
(V) Journalists shall not receive favours which are likely to compromise their professional integrity.
(VI) Journalists should not generally obtain or seek to ob-tain information or pictures through misrepresentation or subterfuge unless it can be justified in the public interest and cannot be obtained by any other means.
Journalists should be accountable to the public for their reports and the public should be encouraged to voice its grievances against the media in an open dialogue.
Interaction with the public and other journalists
4.1. Chance to Reply: The public and institutions should be given an opportunity to reply to statements made about them.
4.2. Privacy: Journalists should respect the individual's pri-vate life without undue intrusion or harassment unless justified in the public interest.
4.3. Transparency: Journalists should be transparent and in-troduce themselves and seek permission to obtain information and take picture where necessary.
4.4. Cheque-book Journalism: Journalists should not accept payment to include or exclude material on a story they are writ-ing except from the legitimate salaries from the employer.
4.5. Media Relationship: Journalists should foster relation-ships among themselves and encourage internal dialogue wher-ever misunderstandings arise. Media wars should be avoided.
Disciplinary action resulting from professional misconduct
The Media Council of Malawi shall enforce the-observance of this code of ethics. Other media associations desiring to further the advancement and interests of journalism practice in Malawi may also use the code, since it applies to all journalists in this country.
In its administration of the code when a journalist has behaved unethically, the Council shall apply any one of the following tools:
(i) It will call the practitioner for a discussion and a warning,
(ii) It will ask the practitioner to apologise or withdraw his or her
article (in the same medium the article was published or transmitted).
(iii) It will issue a statement condemning the article, espe-cially if the author or originator refuses to apologise or retract the article himself or herself.
(iv) It may strike the practitioner off its list of members should there be any one such list. And the Council may publish de-tails of the cancellation should it so desire.
(v) The Council may also urge other media associations to disassociate themselves with the unethical journalist until a remedy to the case in question has been found.
Any member practitioner is free to demand a different set of panellists to look into his or her case, should it be felt that the current panellists can be or are prejudiced towards the practitio-ner in question. An appeal can also be made to associate Councils in the region or other recognised media institutions should a practitioner not be satisfied with a final verdict of his or her case.