April 10, 2007

Statement of CyberPress

Cybergreetings and Happy Easter!

One company prominent in the now fast growing e-services sector recently sent our press corps, the Information Technology Journalists Association of the Philippines or Cyberpress, an invite that was written in a way that may be interpreted as a disguised bribe.

In the spirit of Christian charity, we would like to consider this invitation as one that had been done out of naivete, not malice. However, this matter is important in that it has made us review our own ethical standards.

We would like to publicly call attention to this matter and make known to all who consider themselves as part of the IT sector that any journalist’s acceptance of such an invitation will put said journalist in direct violation of the Journalist’s Code of Ethics. We invoke the conscience clause of said Code of Ethics with regard to this matter.

Reporters who respect themselves and hold fast to the ethics and ideals of the journalism profession receive payments for the stories they write only from their publishers, and their publishers alone.

Any other incentives or emoluments offered to journalists prior to the stories’ publication — most especially by their sources or by the institutions they write about — constitute an underhanded and unethical attempt to unduly influence or, worse, bald-facedly dictate, the contents of any articles these journalists will write.

Such moves are included in the list of actions that constitute “prior latches.” The premise of prior latches covers any actions by outside parties to unduly influence a journalist’s work through direct or indirect bribery and through the simple act of asking when and in what manner a journalist’s articles will by published and what such articles contain.

Media organizations have advertising sections that will happily accommodate such demands as cannot be made on the editorial sections to which journalists belong, so please be so advised.

We hope that this offer shall be the last of any attempts by any party to attempt to unduly influence the manner by which the members of the Cyberpress cover their beat and craft their stories.

We of the ITJAP have always prided ourselves with the fact that the beat we cover is the cutting edge of the 21st century in the Philippines.

Such coverage of the cutting edge also means being on the cutting edge of all efforts to uphold the best and the finest traditions of the Philippine press this Information Age. Unless we maintain our ethics and our integrity, our skill in reportage and our technological savvy will mean nothing.

Hence the Cyberpress’ collective rejection of any attempt to undermine its integrity as a press corps.

Never again should there be any attempts such as this. For any such attempt that follows shall hence be interpreted as done in malice.

Any future attempts similar to this will opposed collectively by Cyberpress and exposed in media — as well as transmitted to other press organizations that are of like mind as Cyberpress.

We want to serve our readers well by giving them news that serves the public interest, not just the interests of a chosen few and we thank you for cooperating in this effort by heeding our sentiments.

Below is the full text of the Journalist’s Code of Ethics as formulated by the Philippine Press Institute and the National Press Club of the Philippines for your reference and guidance.

Journalist’s Code of Ethics

1. I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts or to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.

2. I shall not violate confidential information or material given me in the exercise of my calling.

3. I shall resort only to fair and honest methods in my effort to obtain news, photographs and/or documents, and shall properly identify myself as a representative of the press when obtaining any personal interview intended for publication.

4. I shall refrain from writing reports which will adversely affect a private reputation unless the public interest justifies it. At the same time, I shall fight vigorously for public access to information.

5. I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties; nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration of a nature which may cast doubt on my professional integrity.

6. I shall not commit any act of plagiarism.

7. I shall not in any manner ridicule, cast aspersions on, or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, cultural and ethnic origin.

8. I shall presume persons accused of crime of being innocent until proven otherwise. I shall exercise caution in publishing names of minors and women involved in criminal cases so that they may not unjustly lose their standing in society.

9. I shall not take unfair advantage of fellow journalists.

10. I shall accept only such tasks as are compatible with the integrity and dignity of my profession, invoking the ‘conscience clause’ when duties imposed on me conflict with the voice of my conscience.

11. I shall comport myself in public or while performing my duties as journalist in such manner as to maintain the dignity of my profession. When in doubt, decency should be my watchword.

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