Code of Practice
Newspapers are a vital and essential part of a free and democratic society, as history has shown time and again. That's why the Press Council created the Code of Practice - to encourage the highest professional and ethical standards of journalism, and in the belief that vigilant self-regulation is the hallmark of a free and responsible press.
Accordingly, in considering complaints against the press, the Council will have regard for these guidelines:
A newspaper's first duty is to provide the public with accurate information.
Newspapers should give individuals and organizations a fair and timely opportunity to reply to inaccuracies when the issue is of significant importance or when reasonably called for.
Newspapers should strive to balance an individual's desire for privacy with the requirements of a free press. Privacy concerns, therefore, must not unduly inhibit newspapers from publishing material or making inquiries about an individual's private life when it can be shown that these are, or are reasonably believed to be, in the public interest.
Newspapers should defend their hard-won right to exercise the widest possible latitude in expressing opinions, no matter how controversial or unpopular the opinions may be, and to give columnists, editorial cartoonists and others the same latitude in expressing personal opinions. However, newspapers and journalists shall strive to avoid expressing comment and conjecture as established fact.
Newspapers and journalists should use straightforward means to obtain information and photographs. The use of subterfuge is only acceptable when the material sought after is in the public interest and can not be obtained by any other means.
Unless the information is directly relevant to the news story or opinion column newspapers should avoid publishing material which encourages discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, ancestry, gender, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, age or sexual orientation
With the advent of technologies that make image manipulation possible, newspapers will take care to publish news photographs that are fair and accurate representations of reality. Any technical manipulation of a news photo that could mislead readers should be duly noted in the newspaper.
Journalists should approach assignments involving children with due regard for the well being of the child or children in question.
Newspapers should not identify child victims of sexual assault without the consent of the child's parents or guardian. In the case of adults, newspapers should consider if the identity of adult victims, even if they want to be identified, is in the public interest.
Journalists should not use for their own profit financial information they receive in advance of its general publication.
Newspapers are free to support financially any political party or candidate they choose. However, if such a financial donation is made close to or during an election campaign the newspaper is reporting on, disclosure must be made in the newspaper during the campaign.
Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.
When the Press Council adjudicates a complaint against a newspaper, the newspaper concerned shall promptly publish the full text of the decision.
BC Press Council 2003-2008