THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA PRESS CODE
Independent Media wants news to be reported accurately, the publication of opinions that are based on fact and honestly motivated and reportage that recognises the vulnerable of society and that upholds the laws of South Africa and the Constitution. Accordingly, Independent Media, its editors and journalists of print and digital media subscribe to the following code of conduct:
1.2. Journalists and Independent Media shall at all times uphold the laws of South Africa.
1.3. Any act of publication that is unlawful and actionable in a court of law shall be a contravention of this code.
1.4. This code shall be interpreted in accordance with legal precedent.
2.1. Independent Media will not publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.
2.2. When publishing opinions, Independent Media shall require that the opinions are based on fact and are honestly held.
2.3. Articles must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
3. Right to Reply
3.1. Anyone who is the subject of critical reportage should be given an opportunity to reply, 3.2. unless there is good cause not to.
4.1. People’s privacy shall not unreasonably be invaded.
4.2. Without limiting the general rule, Independent Media shall not:
4.3. Publish details of a person’s health, family life, home or communications without that person’s consent.
4.4. Enter into private homes or offices, unless the consent of the occupier is obtained.
4.5. Publish or take photographs of persons other than those taken in public, or with their consent.
4.6. Where there is personal grief or shock, journalists and editors shall handle subjects with the necessary consideration including in the publication relating thereto.
In dealing with matters involving children:
5.1. A child is defined as any person under the age of 18
5.2. Whenever a picture of a child is to be published it shall be done taking the Constitutional rights of the child into account.
5.3. Whenever the identity of a child is disclosed, whether pictorially or in print –
5.4. The statutory restrictions on the naming or identification of children shall be observed and adhered to.
5.5. The interests of the privacy and the reputation of the child shall be considered and, where necessary, protected.
5.6. The permission of the parent or guardian of any child shall be sought in all cases where the identity of the child is to be disclosed.
5.7. Even if the parent or guardian consents to disclosure of identity of a child, Independent Media shall exercise a cautious discretion, if it may be harmful to the child to publish the identity of the child.
5.8. When it is editorially necessary to publish a picture of a child, which is potentially harmful to such child, the identity of the child shall be obscured in such a manner that the child cannot be recognised. In this regard the face of the child shall be blurred or “pixelated” completely.
5.9. When it is editorially necessary to publish pictures of children that are involved in sexual or simulated sexual activity, such as to draw the public’s attention to the existence of abhorrent practices, such pictures shall be done in an informative manner and not in a manner that could be deemed as being intended to be erotic.
5.10. No picture of children depicting nudity (other than pictures anticipated in terms 5.5 above) shall be published.
6. Means of obtaining evidence
6.1. Where a person is interviewed or questioned for the purpose of publication, the interviewee shall be clearly informed that he or she is being interviewed with a view to publish the information disseminated and only with the interviewee’s agreement.
6.2. If information is gathered from previously published material, the publication must be credited and it shall only be published if lawful.
6.3. Independent Media shall not obtain evidence or publish information that has been obtained:
6.3.1. by clandestine methods, or
6.3.2. by intercepting private communications, or
6.3.3. by the unauthorised removal of documents.
7. Victims of crimes
7.1. A victim of a sex crime shall not be named, unless he or she specifically consents.
7.2. If the victim of a sex crime is a minor, his or her identity shall never be disclosed, unless he or she specifically consents after reaching the age of majority.
7.3. No information that may lead to the identification of the victim of a sex crime may be published.
7.4. Where the victim of any other crime is a minor the principles when dealing with children generally shall apply.
7.5. Victims of crime shall be treated with compassion, both when interviewed and in the publication.
8. Sources and collecting information
8.1. Sources of information shall be clearly identified and named in articles, unless paragraph 8.2 below applies.
8.2. Where a source specifically asks for confidentiality, the source shall not be identified and Independent Media shall protect the confidentiality as far as possible.
9. Discrimination, racism and hate speech
9.1. No disparaging remarks referring to someone’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability shall be published.
9.2. Reference to someone’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability shall be avoided unless relevant.
10.1. Journalists must not use information discovered for the purpose of publication for their own financial benefit.
10.2. Articles published on companies, investment products or shares in which the journalist or publisher has an interest should disclose the journalist’s or publisher’s financial interest.
11. Conflict of interest
11.1. Conflicts of interest must be avoided.
12. Submission of Complaint
12.1. A complaint shall be made as soon as possible, but not later than 20 working days after the date of publication giving rise to the complaint. The Chair of the Ombud, who throughout the entire process will advise and assist the complainant if the complainant agrees, may on reasonable grounds accept late complaints if, in his or her opinion, there is a good and satisfactory explanation for the delay.
13.1. Sources relating to media articles, especially those of a sensitive nature, shall not be revealed in the absence of a court order.
13.2. Where the Ombud Office requires a source to be revealed, such a source will be only revealed to the Office of the Ombud Chairperson in so far as the investigative process is concerned, and the relevant source shall be redacted, or omitted in the published ruling, to protect the source from potential prejudice.
13.3. Journalists are entitled to protect their sources in a manner that aligns with the principles of a higher journalistic integrity but not in a manner that defeats the ends of justice.”