On August 22, 2000, the Executive Committee of the Council adopted the Journalists' Code of Professional Ethics, which was jointly drafted and promulgated in June 2000 by four major journalist bodies as a code of ethics and guidelines for local journalists in carrying out their professional duties. They are the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Hong Kong Federation of Journalists, the Hong Kong News Executives' Association and the Hong Kong Press Photographers' Association. The Council reserves the right to modify the Code as and when deem necessary in light of the practical circumstances and experience of operation after full consultation with the above-mentioned journalists' bodies.

Journalists' Code of Professional Ethics

Our Beliefs

We believe that freedom of speech is a basic human right.
We believe that freedom of the press, guaranteed under the Basic Law, is an integral part of freedom of speech.
We believe that journalists should strive to uphold freedom of the press, and take public interest as the basis of their work.
We believe that journalists should uphold the principles of truth, objectivity and fairness.
We believe that owners and executives especially of media organizations have the responsibility to encourage and require staff to adhere to these principles.

Code of Ethics

1. Journalists should handle news information with an attitude of seeking truth, fairness, objectivity, impartiality and comprehensiveness. Journalists should strive to ensure accuracy of their reports. They should not mislead the public by quoting out of context, distorting facts or twisting original meaning.
2. Whenever proven inaccuracy, misleading facts or figures, or distortion of original meaning occurs, media organizations should provide persons or organizations affected with the earliest opportunity to reply, and corrections should be made promptly.
3.  Journalists should not pander to prurience, indecency and sensationalism when reporting news involving violence, sex-related crime or suicide.
4. Journalists should respect the reputation and privacy of individuals. Taking into account solid editorial reasons, journalists should report on the private lives of individuals-who have not given their consent fordoing so-only in ways that would not create unnecessary additional damage to the individuals.
 
4.1 Privacy of children should be handled with particular care. Media organizations should have solid editorial reasons for reporting on the private lives of children. Journalists should not intrude into the privacy of children solely because of the social or celebrity status of the minors' family members or guardians.
4.2 News media should have solid editorial reasons for publicizing the behavior and personal data of public officials.
4.3 Behavior and personal data of public officials that are pertinent to the exercise of their public office are not considered private.
5. Journalists should avoid conflict of interest. Under no circumstance should they be influenced by political, economic and other interests related to themselves, their families or their employers.
 
5.1 Journalists should not seek monetary or other advantages from information that they have obtained in the course of discharging their duties; nor should journalists pass the information to others so that the journalists might obtain an indirect advantage.
5.2 Journalists should not distort facts to appease advertisers or for any other consideration.
5.3 Journalists should not write or comment on business or other organizational matters in which they have a stake. Journalists should declare their interest should they be assigned to report or comment on matters in which they have an interest.
5.4 Journalists should not be influenced by external pressure or economic considerations in their reports and commentaries.
6. Journalists should stand up to political pressure or financial inducement and not succumb to self-censorship.
7. Journalists should obtain information, photographs and illustrations through proper means.
8. Journalists in their reportage or commentary should not discriminate or encourage others to discriminate on grounds of age, race, color, creed, religion, place or circumstance of birth, disability, marital status, gender or sexual orientation.
9.  Journalists should protect their sources of information.
 
9.1 To avoid misleading the public, journalists should strive not to use information provided by anonymous sources.
9.2 In cases in which anonymity is necessary, extraordinary care must be exercised to ascertain the veracity of information so provided.
10.  Journalists should abide by this Code, except in specific circumstances involving public interest, such as:
 
10.1 Exposing any unlawful activity, abuse of power, neglect of duty, or other misconduct by an individual or organization;
10.2 Preventing the public from being misled by statements or actions of individuals or organizations;
10.3 Preventing a serious threat to public order, the security of Hong Kong, public health and safety.

Guidelines for Practice

(I) Photojournalism

1. It is the prime duty of photojournalists to report the truth. Photojournalists should take photographs from the actual scene of a news event. They should not participate in designing or directing re-enactment of news events for exaggerated and inaccurate reports.
2. Photojournalists should show concern about the feelings of victims and their families when photographing accidents and their aftermaths, so as to avoid and/or minimize the damage to and impact on the feelings of the victims and their families.
3. Photojournalists should respect the privacy of people being photographed.
4. Photojournalists-including photographers and picture editors-should handle with caution pictures that are gory, violent, disgusting and pornographic. Before using this type of photographs, photojournalists should consider:
 
4.1 whether they are necessary for better understanding of a news event;
4.2 the impact on the society;
4.3 the impact on the people involved and their families.
5. Photojournalists should process pictures on the basis of the actual scene that they have seen. Any re-processing before and after the photographs are taken are unacceptable.
6. When news media use photographic montages or combine photographs with graphics to add special effects to editorial design, such images should be clearly labeled as "enhanced pictures" or "photo illustrations" so that readers might not be misled into thinking they are photographs of the actual scenes.