19 August 2005, 23:00

Ethical Code of Internet Medium "CAUCASIAN KNOT"

Preamble:

1. The "CAUCASIAN KNOT" is an independent electronic mass medium founded by the International Society "Memorial" and operating under the aegis of the Information Agency "MEMO.RU".

2. The aims of the International Society "Memorial" are as follows:

  • Promotion to development of civil society and rule-of-law state, where any opportunity to get back to totalitarianism is completely excluded;
  • Participation in formation of public consciousness on the basis of civil values, democracy and law; overcoming of totalitarian stereotypes and consolidation of human rights in political practice and social life;
  • Participation in restoration of historical truth and commemoration of victims of political repressions of totalitarian regimes.

3. The main aims of the information-analytical edition "CAUCASIAN KNOT" are as follows:

  • Ensuring a free access to information about events in the Caucasus; in particular, informing the Russian and world community about violations of human rights, situation in armed conflict zones, facts of national or political discrimination and problems of refugees;
  • Informational support to development of civil initiatives and independent mass media.

4. The Internet medium "CAUCASIAN KNOT":

  • Is notable for its orientation to human rights topic encyclopaedic depth of publications and presentation of differing viewpoints;
  • Refrains from making comments on the issues of territorial integrity, however describes the status quo;
  • Tries to present all the viewpoints on facts and different interpretations of facts, never giving preference to any of them;
  • Never orients towards any priorities of any of the countries of the Caucasus, taking the priorities of their citizens as the top value, irrespective of any national or other attributes;
  • Is relying in its work on the Russian legislation and international standards.

Accuracy and reliability of information:

1. Any journalist of the "CAUCASIAN KNOT" responds with his or her own name and reputation for reliability of any message and exact presentation of any judgement, disseminated under his signature, pseudonym or anonymously, but upon his or her knowing and consent.

2. Every journalist shall use all his or her efforts towards avoiding causing damage to anybody through incompleteness or incorrectness of his or her information, by any deliberate concealment of socially relevant information, or through dissemination of knowingly false data.

Impartiality:

1. Journalists and editors of the "CAUCASIAN KNOT" shall defend the principles of impartiality.

2. A journalist shall make a clear border between the news and his or her comments. News reports (items) shall not contain any opinions or reflect any prejudice of the journalist; however, they should present the topic from all viewpoints.

3. Impartiality shall be achieved through observance of the following simple rules:

  1. No material can be thought to be impartial, if it misses the main facts. Impartiality and presentation of details are inseparable;
  2. No material can be thought to be impartial, if, instead of important facts, it includes information not related to the topic. Impartiality means aptitude;
  3. No material can be thought to be impartial, if it intentionally or unintentionally misleads the reader. Impartiality means honesty;
  4. No material can be thought to be impartial, if the author expresses his or her attitude or emotions by means of such estimates like "bandit", "Islam wars" and so forth. Impartiality means straightforwardness instead of labelling and loud phrases;
  5. A journalist shall give the floor to all the parties in this or that situation.

Freedom and responsibility of the journalist:

1. While performing his or her professional duties, a journalist shall not resort to illegal and immoral ways of obtaining information. The journalist shall recognize and respect the right of individuals and legal entities not to provide information and not to answer questions, unless their duty to present information is stipulated by the law.

2. A journalist shall treat any ill-intentioned distortion of facts, slander, reception under any circumstances of any payment for dissemination of false or concealment of true information as heavy professional crimes; he or she shall not take, directly or indirectly, any remunerations or royalties from any third parties for publication of whatever materials and opinions.

3. Making sure that he or she has published a doubtful or distorted material, the journalist shall correct the mistake by using the same polygraphic and (or) audiovisual means that had been used for publishing the material. If necessary, he or she shall apologize through his or her medium.

4. A journalist shall completely realize the danger of any restrictions, prosecutions and violence that can be provoked by his or her activity. By fulfilling his or her professional duties, he or she is counteracting extremism and restriction of civil rights by attributes, including sex, race, language, religion, political or other views, same as by one's social and national origin.

5. A journalist shall respect the honour and dignity of the persons who come into the focus of his or her professional attention. He or she shall abstain from any scornful hints or comments concerning one's race, nationality, skin colour, religion, social origin or sex, as well as one's physical disabilities or illnesses. He or she shall abstain from publishing such data, unless these circumstances are directly connected with the content of the published material. A journalist shall unconditionally avoid using offensive expressions able to cause harm to people's moral and physical health.

6. A journalist shall respect and defend his or her colleagues' professional rights, and observe the laws of fair competition. A journalist shall avoid the situations, when he or she could damage any personal or professional interests of a colleague by agreeing to carry out the colleague's duties under knowingly poorer terms in any social, material or moral aspects.

7. A journalist shall refuse from any mission that entails violation of any of the above principles.

8. A journalist shall enjoy and defend his or her right to make use of all stipulated by the civil and criminal legislation guarantees of defence in judicial and any other procedure against violence or threat with violence, insults, moral damage or defamation.

Sources of information:

1. Wherever obviously possible, a journalist shall disclose the sources of information.

2. A journalist shall keep professional secrecy in relation to the source of the information obtained in the confidential way. Nobody can force him or her to disclose the source. The right to anonymity can be broken only in exclusive cases, when a suspicion exists that the source has deliberately distorted the truth, and also when mentioning of the source is deemed to be the only way to avoid some heavy and inevitable damage to people.

Plagiarism (piracy) and references:

The "CAUCASIAN KNOT" always gives references to the editions, from where published materials were borrowed. Plagiarism is inadmissible for the journalists of the edition: by using the work of a colleague in this way or others, a journalist shall give reference to the author and edition, if the material has already been published.

Materials on trials and crimes:

While covering court trials and investigations, a journalist shall always bear in mind that any person accused of an offence shall be thought to be innocent until and unless passing of the final verdict; therefore, a journalist shall not present a person as guilty until his or her guilt is proved in the course of litigation. He or she shall also not forget to present the materials and outcomes of the trial.

When publishing materials about crimes, the belonging of a suspect or criminal to any religious, ethnic or other minority shall be mentioned only if there are strong reasons to believe that such information directly contributes to understanding of the described circumstances of the case. One shall bear in mind that mentioning of such belonging can cause a wave of prejudice against such groups.

Materials about acts of terrorism and counterterrorist operations:

With the aim to provide the society with trustworthy information, the "CAUCASIAN KNOT" shall have the right and be obliged to promote open discussion of the problem of terrorism, inform the society about the course of counterterrorist operations, hold investigations, and provide people with information on real problems and conflicts.

The board of the edition is sure that the threat of terrorism shall never be used as a pretext and justification of introduction of restrictions in relation to the rights to freedom of opinions and mass media.

At the same time, while understanding the dangers related to terrorism and the responsibility of working with the information in such conditions, the journalists of the edition find it necessary to voluntarily accept the following rules of behaviour of mass media and undertake to be guided by them in their work:

1. A journalist shall understand that during a terror act, rescuing people and the human right to life are primary over any other rights and freedoms.

2. In case of receiving any information about a prepared terror act or about a start thereof, a journalist shall, prior to making such information public, inform the leaders of his or her edition.

3. A journalist shall always have on him or her and present at first request the editorial identification card or any other document specifying his or her identity and profession.

4. A journalist shall never take arms or put on camouflage or other uniform, understanding that once taking arms, he or she ceases to be a journalist.

5. A journalist shall:

  • Be tactful and attentive to feelings of relatives and friends of victims of terrorism and expose special keenness to eyewitnesses of events as sources of information;
  • Bear in mind that those who have once faced a misfortune, shall not be victimized again as a result of this or that way the events are covered;
  • Treat with due respect any moral, national and religious feelings of his or her audience;
  • Realize that terrorists' hostages are also hostages of the situation; at a certain moment they can become an instrument of pressure on the public opinion;
  • Avoid identifying relatives and friends of hostages and potential victims without their consent.

6. While covering terror acts and antiterrorist operations, a journalist also shall:

  • Remember about his or her duty to inform the public and not to spread panic; follow not only the sense of what was said but also the tone of how it was done;
  • Bear in mind that mass media messages are generally available, including to those who have intentionally created the critical situation;
  • Take into account that the global community rejects any links of terrorism with any particular religion, race or nationality;
  • Understand that news items and reports shall not contain any data capable to strengthen the positions of terrorists, like, for example, actions in support of their claims. Such tough requirements can exclusively cover the situations related to a direct threat to life of people; they shall not cover any events of political, economic or social struggle, which can remain within the framework of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

The Code has been signed by the collective of journalists and editors of the "CAUCASIAN KNOT" and is open for adding and signing by journalists of the Caucasian region.

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