Publication Press codex

Our publication follows international and European best practices. Hence we focus our rules of engagement to be led by the Guidelines for journalistic work as recommended by the German Press Council.

Relevant exert of the German Press codex

The freedom of the Press enshrined in the Basic Law includes the independence and freedom of information, the right of expression and criticism. Publishers, editors and journalists must in their work remain aware of their responsibility towards the public and their duty to uphold the prestige of the Press. They perform their journalistic task fairly, according to the best of their knowledge and belief, uninfluenced by personal interests and motives that have nothing to do with the matter in hand.

The journalistic principles define the professional ethics of the Press. These include the duty within the framework of the Constitution and constitutional laws to maintain the standing of the Press and speak up for the freedom of the Press.

The regulations pertaining to editorial data protection apply to the Press in gathering, processing or using information about persons for journalistic-editorial purposes. From research to editing, publishing, documenting and storing these data, the Press must respect people‘s privacy and right to self-determination on information about them.

These professional ethics give everyone the right to complain about the Press. Complaints are justified if professional ethics are infringed.

This preamble is part of the ethical standards.

Section 1 - TRUTHFULNESS AND PRESERVING HUMAN DIGNITY

Respect for the truth, preservation of human dignity and accurate informing of the public are the overriding principles of the Press. In this way, every person active in the Press preserves the standing and credibility of the media.

GUIDELINE 1.1 – EXCLUSIVE AGREEMENTS

The informing of the public about events which are of general interest and importance for forming of public opinion and intent, must not be restricted or prevented by exclusive agreements with informants or shielding of them. Those who seek a monopoly on information exclude the rest of the Press from acquiring important news and thus impinge upon the freedom of information.

GUIDELINE 1.2 – ELECTION CAMPAIGN REPORTING

Accurate informing of the public during election campaigns includes the Press reporting on opinions that it does not share.

GUIDELINE 1.3 – PRESS RELEASES

Press releases must be identified as such if they are published by the editorial team without any further editing. 3 German Press Code

Section 2 - CARE

Research is an indispensable instrument of journalistic due diligence. The publication of specific information in word, picture and graphics must be carefully checked in respect of accuracy in the light of existing circumstances. Its sense must not be distorted or falsified by editing, title or picture captions. Unconfirmed reports, rumors or assumptions must be quoted as such. Symbolic photos must be clearly marked as such.

GUIDELINE 2.1 – OPINION POLL FINDINGS

When publishing the results of opinion polls, the Press shall give the number of respondents, the date of the poll, the identity of the person or organization that commissioned it, and the questions asked. At the same time, it must also state whether the results are representative.

If the institute was not commissioned to carry out the poll, it should be pointed out that it was implemented at the initiative of the institute itself.

GUIDELINE 2.2 – SYMBOLIC PHOTOGRAPHS

If an illustration, especially a photograph, can be taken to be a documentary picture by the casual reader, although it is a symbolic photograph, this must be clarified. For this reason:

  • substitute or auxiliary illustrations (i.e. a similar subject at a different time, or a different subject at the same time, etc.),
  • symbolic illustrations (reconstructed scenes, arti-ficially visualised events to accompany text, etc.),
  • photo-montages or other changes must be clearly marked as such either in the caption or in the accompanying text.

GUIDELINE 2.3 – ADVANCE REPORTS

The Press bears full journalistic responsibility for advance reports published in a compressed form which announce a forthcoming story. Anyone who further distributes advance reports by Press organs by stating the source must, basically, be able to rely on their validity. Abridgments or additions must not lead to a situation where the basic elements of the story are given a new slant or prompt incorrect conclusions which may harm the legitimate interests of third parties.

GUIDELINE 2.4 – INTERVIEWS

A verbatim interview is absolutely journalistic-ally correct if it correctly relays what has been said.

If the text of an interview is quoted in full or in part, the publication concerned must state its source. If the basic content of verbally expressed thoughts is paraphrased, it is nonetheless a matter of journalistic honour to state the source.

GUIDELINE 2.5 – GRAPHIC REPRESENTATIONS

The duty of care requires misleading distortions be excluded in graphical representations.

GUIDELINE 2.6 – READERS‘ LETTERS

(1) The Press Code must be observed when publishing reader’s letters. It is in the interest of informing the public to allow opinions not shared by the editorial team to be expressed in the Reader’s Letters section.

(2) Correspondence with publishers or editorial departments can be printed as readers‘ letters if it is clear, due to their form and content, that this is in accordance with the sender‘s wishes. Consent may be assumed if the letter refers to articles published by the newspaper or magazine concerned or to matters of general interest. The authors of such reader‘s letters have no legal right to have them published.

(3) It is common practice that reader‘s letters are published with the author‘s name. Only in exceptional cases can, at the request of the author, another designation be used. When printing, the Press shall refrain from publishing addresses unless publication of the address serves to respect justified interests. If there is any doubt about the identity of the sender, a letter should not be printed. The publication of fake reader‘s letters is not compatible with the duties of the Press.

(4) Changes or abridgements of letters are fundamentally impermissible without the author‘s consent. However, abridgements are possible if the Readers‘ Letters section contains a regular notice that the editor reserves the right to shorten such letters without changing the meaning of them. Should the sender expressly forbid changes or abridgements, the editorial department must either comply with that wish, even if it has reserved the right to abridgement, or decline to publish the letter.

(5) All reader‘s letters sent to the editor are subject to editorial secrecy. They must never be passed on to third parties.

Section 3 - CORRECTIONS

Published news or assertions, in particular those of a personal nature, which subsequently turn out to be incorrect must be promptly rectified in an appropriate manner by the publication concerned.

GUIDELINE 3.1 – REQUIREMENTS

The reader must be able to recognize that the previous article was wholly or partly incorrect. For this reason a correction publishing the true facts must also refer to the incorrect article. The true facts are to be published even if the error has already been publicly admitted in another way.

GUIDELINE 3.2 – DOCUMENTATION

If journalistic-editorial research, processing or use of person-related data results in the Press having to publish corrections, retractions, refutations by the persons concerned or to a reprimand by the German Press Council, the publication involved must store them along with the original data and document them for the same period as the original data.

Section 4 - LIMITS OF RESEARCH

Dishonest methods must not be used to acquire person-related news, information or photographs.

GUIDELINE 4.1 – PRINCIPLES OF RESEARCH

Journalists must, as a fundamental principle, identify themselves as such. Untrue statements by a journalist about his/her identity and their publication when doing research work are fundamentally irreconcilable with the standing and function of the Press.Undercover research may be justifiable in individual cases if in this way information of particular public interest is gained which cannot be procured by other means.In the event of accidents and natural disasters, the Press must bear in mind that emergency services for the victims and those in danger have priority over the public right to information.

GUIDELINE 4.2 – RESEARCH AMONG PEOPLE REQUIRING PROTECTION

When conducting research among people requiring protection, particular restraint is called for. This applies especially to people who are not in full possession of their mental or physical powers or who have been exposed to an extremely emotional situation, as well as to children and juveniles. The limited willpower or the special situation of such people must not be exploited deliberately to gain information.

GUIDELINE 4.3 – BLOCKING OR DELETION OF PERSONAL DATA

Personal data gathered in violation of the Press Code are to be blocked or deleted by the publication involved.

Section 5 - PROFESSIONAL SECRECY

The Press shall respect professional secrecy, make use of the right to refuse to bear witness and shall not reveal informants identities without their explicit permission. Confidentiality is to be adhered to in principle.

GUIDELINE 5.1 – CONFIDENTIALITY

Should an informant stipulate, as a condition for the use of his/her report, that he/she remains unrecognizable or unendangered as the source, this is to be respected. Confidentiality can be non-binding only if the information concerns a crime and there is a duty to inform the police. Confidentiality may also be lifted if, in carefully weighing interests, important reasons of state predominate, particularly if the constitutional order is affected or jeopardized.

Actions and plans described as secret may be reported if after careful consideration it is determined that the public‘s need to know outweighs the reasons put forward to justify secrecy.

GUIDELINE 5.2 – SECRET SERVICE ACTIVITIES

Secret service activities by journalists and publishers are irreconcilable with the duties stemming from professional secrecy and the prestige of the Press.

GUIDELINE 5.3 – DATA TRANSFER

All person-related data gathered, processed and used for journalistic-editorial purposes are subject to editorial secrecy. Transfer of such data between editorial departments is permissible. It is not to be done until conclusion of a formal complaint procedure under data protection law. A data transfer is to be annotated with the remark that the data is to be edited or used only for journalistic-editorial purposes.

Section 6 - SEPARATION OF ACTIVITIES

Journalists and publishers shall not perform any activities that could throw doubt over the credibility of the Press.

Section 7 - SEPARATION OF ADVERTISING AND EDITORIAL CONTENT

The responsibility of the Press towards the general public requires that editorial publications are not influenced by the private or business interests of third parties or the personal economic interests of the journalists. Publishers and editors must reject any attempts of this nature and make a clear distinction between editorial and commercial content. If a publication concerns the publisher‘s own interests, this must be clearly identifiable.

GUIDELINE 7.1 – DISTINCTION BETWEEN EDITORIAL TEXT AND ADVERTISEMENTS

Paid publications must be so designed that the reader can recognize advertising as such. They can be separated from the editorial section by means of identification and/or design. Furthermore, regulations under advertising law apply.

GUIDELINE 7.2 – SURREPTITIOUS ADVERTISING

Editorial stories that refer to companies, their products, services or events must not overstep the boundary to surreptitious advertising. This risk is especially great if a story goes beyond justified public interest or the reader‘s interest in information or is paid for by a third part or is rewarded by advantages with a monetary value.The credibility of the Press as a source of information demands particular care when handling PR material.

GUIDELINE 7.3 – SPECIAL PUBLICATIONS

Editorial special publications are subject to the same editorial responsibility as all other editorial content. Advertising special publications must respect the requirements of Guideline 7.1.

GUIDELINE 7.4 – ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL MARKET REPORTING

Journalists and publishers who research or receive information within the context of exercising their profession shall use this information prior to publication only for journalistic purposes and not for their own personal advantage or the personal advantage of others.Journalists and publishers may not publish any reports about securities and/or their issuers with the intention of enriching themselves, their family members or other close persons through the price development of the security in question. They should not buy or sell securities, either directly or through agents, on which they have published something in the previous two weeks or on which they are planning to report in the next two weeks.

Journalists and publishers shall take the necessary measures to ensure compliance with these regulations. Conflicts of interest in drawing up or passing on financial analyses shall be revealed in an appropriate manner.

Section 8 - PROTECTION OF THE PERSONALITY

The Press shall respect the private life of a person and his/her right to self-determination about personal information. However, if a person‘s behavior is of public interest, it may be discussed by the Press. In the case of identifying reporting, the public interest in information must outweigh the interests worthy of protection of the persons involved; sensational interests alone do not justify identifying reporting. As far as an anonymization is required, it must be effective. The Press guarantees editorial data protection.

Section 9 - PROTECTION OF DIGNITY

Violating people‘s dignity with inappropriate representations in word and image contradicts journalistic ethics.

Section 10 - RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, CUSTOM

The Press will refrain from vituperating against religious, philosophical or moral convictions

Section 11 - SENSATIONAL REPORTING, THE PROTECTION OF YOUNG PEOPLE

The Press will refrain from inappropriately sensational portrayal of violence, brutality and suffering. The Press shall respect the protection of young people.

Section 12 - DISCRIMINATION

There must be no discrimination against a person be-cause of his/her sex, a disability or his membership of an ethnic, religious, social or national group.

Section 13 - PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

Reports on investigations, criminal court proceedings and other formal procedures must be free from prejudice. The principle of the presumption of innocence also applies to the Press.

Section 14 - MEDICAL REPORTING

Reports on medical matters should not be of an unnecessarily sensationalist nature since they might lead to unfounded hopes or fears on the part of some readers. Research findings that are still at an early stage should not be portrayed as if they were conclusive or almost conclusive.

Section 15 - PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT

The acceptance of privileges of any kind that could possibly influence the freedom of decision on the part of publishers and editors are irreconcilable with the prestige, independence and responsibilities of the Press. Anyone accepting bribes for the dissemination of news acts in a dishonorably and unprofessional manner.

Section 16 - PUBLICATION OF REPRIMANDS

It is considered fair reporting when a public reprimand issued by the German Press Council is published, especially by the publication or telecommunications media concerned.

GUIDELINE 16.1 – CONTENT OF THE PUBLIC REPRIMAND

The reader must be informed of the facts of the reprimanded article and of the journalistic principle the article violated.

GUIDELINE 16.2 – MANNER OF PUBLISHING REPRIMANDS

Reprimands must be published in the publications or telecommunications media in an appropriate form. In telecommunications media the reprimands must be linked to the reprimanded article.