CODE OF ETHICS FOR DIGITAL NEWS WEBSITE
The Digital News Publishers Association has voluntarily drawn up a Code of Ethics for its members, which demonstrates their commitment to responsible digital publishing along with ensuring protection of the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression envisioned under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution as also other Constitutionally mandated freedoms. The association keeps an eye on such developments which are likely to restrict the gathering and dissemination of news and current affairs, or any other content.
The object of this Code is prescriptive of high standards, ethics and practices in digital news publishing, and does not interfere with the editorial and content independence of publishers.
1. Digital news websites follow the Law of the Land, including the Constitution of India, the over-30 laws relating to media, relevant provisions of IPC, CrPC as well as the Information Technology Act, 2000, where applicable.
2. They also diligently adhere to accepted norms of journalistic ethics and practices and maintain the highest standards of professional conduct. There are several layers of these self-regulatory ethics and codes – including as outlined by specific entities as well as rigorous processes in newsrooms at the level of journalists and editors.
3. Accuracy, Transparency & Fairness Members should desist from publishing inaccurate, baseless or distorted material. Pre-publication verification should be mandatory. Defamation should be avoided. Adherence to applicable laws and rules is necessary.
4. Right to Reply
a. News reports and articles should incorporate comments or versions of persons or party with regard to whom allegations are carried. If not carried, the person or party’s response, if received later, to be incorporated.
b. If there are developments in the news, and the concerned person or party requests an update, the same must be carried duly. Date of update should also appear in the published news item.
5. Take down, delete or edit If a news report or article is found to contain false or inaccurate information, then on approach by the concerned person or party, providing correct information, identifying himself or herself, providing required documents or material, the portion of the news report or article should be edited or deleted accordingly. If entire news report is found to contain false, inaccurate information, the entire article should be deleted.
6. Respect Intellectual Property Rights
a. Copyright in text, photographs, plans, diagrams, cartoons, etc must be respected. If copyrighted material is used, then prior permission should be taken and publication must acknowledge moral and ownership rights.
b. If permission requires payment of fee or royalty, the same must be paid.
c. Trade Marks and Service Marks of third parties not to be used except with prior permission or if such use constitutes fair use.
d. In case of infringement of intellectual property, upon receiving a valid request and after getting necessary documents, the content in question should be edited, deleted or taken down if necessary.
7. Due care and sensibility to be exercised while reporting sensitive matters and crime. Presumption of innocence must be preserved. Comments and speculation on evidence, witness and witness conduct, accused and victim and their respective conduct to be avoided. Such reporting should be based on facts and unbiased.
8. Special care to be taken while reporting on sexual harassment, sexual harassment at workplace, child abuse and rape, where accused or victims are minors, matrimonial issues, riots and communal disputes/ clashes, divorce and custody cases, adoption matters, etc.
• Care to be taken, to follow Sections 67, 67A and 67B of the Information Technology Act, 2000 where applicable—which provide for penalties for publishing or transmitting obscene material, sexually explicit material and also material depicting children in sexually explicit acts, in electronic form.
9. Grievance Redressal Mechanism
Members –when intermediaries as defined under the Information Technology Act, 2000— follow the grievance redressal mechanism as outlined therein and are cognizant of the liabilities and safe harbor protections under Section 79 of the IT Act 2000. Hence, as relevant, they follow the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011 including appointing a grievance officer whose contact details are displayed on the website and who acts within 36 hours of receipt of complaint by affected person and redresses the complaint within one month from its receipt.
10.Training and Awareness Programs
Conduct periodic training and awareness programs with editorial staff about existing laws including Constitution of India, the over 30 laws relating to the media like The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, Copyright Act, Right to Information Act, relevant provisions of Indian Penal Code and CrPC, civil and criminal defamation, IPR, Juvenile justice, POCSO, relevant provisions relating to reporting on rape and molestation, harassment in the work place, caste or gender related crime, domestic violence, etc.
– Names of victims and details leading to identification of victims or perpetrator, if juvenile or in the workplace, to be strictly avoided.
– Photographs of victims, their residence, workplace, etc to be avoided.
– Special care and caution must be exercised at all times while reporting matters related to communal or religious disputes/clashes. Such news items shall be published only after a proper verification of facts and should be presented with due caution and restraint, ensuring an environment that is conducive to promoting communal harmony, amity and peace.
– Special care in reporting on Courts and judicial matters. Create awareness among editorial staff about legislative privileges and correct reporting of Court hearings, judicial matters, etc. To ensure that versions of victim and accused are covered, without comments thereon.
Respect for privacy especially persons not in public life.