Code of Ethics
All members of the press have a duty to maintain the highest professional standards. The Code, which includes this preamble and the public interest exceptions below, sets the benchmark for those ethical standards, protecting both the rights of the individual and the public’s right to know. It is the cornerstone of the system of self-regulation.
It is essential that an agreed code be honoured not only to the letter but in the full spirit. It should not be interpreted so narrowly as to compromise its commitment to respect the rights of the individual, nor so broadly that it constitutes an unnecessary interference with freedom of expression or prevents publication in the public interest.
It is the responsibility of the editor and publisher to apply the Code to editorial material in both printed and online versions of publications. They should take care to ensure it is observed rigorously by all editorial staff and external contributors, including non-journalists, in printed and online versions of publications.
We take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – a contradiction or correction published.
We must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
We must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which we have been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.
We will only run stories that have at least one on-the-record quote.
Informed sources add to a story, they are not the basis of the story.
opportunity to reply
A fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies must be given when reasonably called for. We will publish a correction or a clarification. We must also, however, ensure that all stories filed by our reporters have all points of view relevant to the story.
Our readers may also refer the matter to The Express Tribune ombudsman.
Our staffers must not engage in intimidation, harassment or blackmail.
Our staffers must identify themselves as and when required.
Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communication.
The editor will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without the individual’s consent.
We will not report on the family or personal lives of public personalities unless there is a justification for doing so.
It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent.
Note: Private places are private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
intrusion into grief and shock
In cases involving personal grief or shock, inquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and handled sensitively. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings, such as inquests.
Note: When reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used. It is the discretion of the desk to edit details that may seem to glorify a crime.
Journalists must identify themselves and obtain permission from a responsible executive before entering non-public areas of hospitals or similar institutions to pursue enquiries.
Young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.
A child under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.
Pupils must not be approached or photographed at school without the permission of the school authorities.
The press must not, even if legally free to do so, identify children under 16 who are victims or witnesses in cases involving sex offences.
In any press report of a case involving a sexual offence against a child
- The child must not be identified.
- The adult may be identified.
- The word “incest” must not be used where a child victim might be identified.
- Care must be taken that nothing in the report implies the relationship between the accused and the child.
reporting of crime
Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story.
Particular regard should be paid to the potentially vulnerable position of children who witness, or are victims of a crime. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.
We will report the facts not speculation.
We will report on the record statements of police officials and avoid quotes by unnamed officials.
clandestine devices and subterfuge
The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails.
Engaging in misrepresentation or subterfuge, including by agents or intermediaries, can generally be justified only in the public interest and then only when the material cannot be obtained by other means.
victims of sexual assault
The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so. However, if the victim willingly identifies himself or herself in public, then the press may do so too.
witness payments in criminal trials
No payment or offer of payment to a witness – or any person who may reasonably be expected to be called a witness – should be made in any case once proceedings are active.
This prohibition lasts until the suspect has been freed unconditionally by police without charge or bail or the proceedings are otherwise discontinued; or the suspect has entered a guilty plea to the court; or, in the event of a not guilty plea, the court has announced its verdict.
We must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.
Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
We will avoid mentioning sectarian and ethnic background of victims in killings unless absolutely necessary. We will not use them at all in headlines.
We will not point or print comments of others which make fun or degrade another person’s race, colour, religion or sexual orientation.
Our journalists must not use financial information to make profit of something before general publication, nor should they pass such information to others.
We must not write about shares or securities in whose performance our journalists know that they or their close family members have a significant financial interest without disclosing the interest to the editor.
We must not buy or sell, either directly or through nominees or agents, shares or securities about which we have written recently or about which we intend to write in the near future.
When writing about sister companies within the Lakson Group, we will mention this fact at the end of the story.
The public interest includes, but is not confined to:
- Detecting or exposing crime or impropriety
- Protecting public health and safety
- Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation
There is a public interest in freedom of expression itself.
Whenever the public interest is invoked, we will demonstrate fully that we reasonably believed that the publication, or journalistic activity undertaken with a view to publication, would be in the public interest and how, and with whom, that was established at the time. The Indus Tribune will consider the extent to which material is already in the public domain, or will become so.
In cases involving children under 16, we must demonstrate an exceptional public interest to over-ride the normally paramount interest of the child.
We have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.
A reporter must have all relevant documents that pertain to a story when doing an investigative story.