Codes of ethics adopted by journalists and media are a voluntary
expression of professional diligence by quality-conscious journalists
and media outlets to correct their mistakes and to make themselves
accountable to the public. Self-regulation by the media is a means
of reducing influence by the State and other sectors of society
over media content. In addition, self-regulatory mechanisms can
facilitate the out-of-court settling of disputes over media content.
However, the changing media environment challenges journalistic
ethics and codes of ethics are not stringently adhered to by all
journalists. Journalists work in many parts of Europe under conditions
which are legally insecure and financially weak, thus making them
more vulnerable to pressures on their work by third parties.
Media outlets should play a primary role in defining and upholding
the professional standards of their staff as well as of those contributing
to their media content. In this context, corporate codes of ethics
and media ombudspersons should be established by media outlets,
as well as mechanisms for complaints or other reactions by their
readers, listeners or viewers with regard to compliance with such
In several countries, systems of co-regulation exist whereby
domestic law sets the legal framework for self-regulatory media
ethics. Where such systems include the possibility to impose fines
and other penalties, the European Convention on Human Rights, in
particular its Article 10, is applicable and must be respected.