Code of Ethics

-    For Nigerian Journalists

Delegates at the Forum for the implementation of the Code of Ethics, affirm and declare as follows:

That we:
ACCEPT the imperative of a Code of Ethics as a vital pillar of journalism and the necessity for the application of ethics to enhance standards;
AFFIRM that self-regulation through a Code of Ethics and other structures drawn up by professionals would best serve the interest of both the profession and the public;
ENJOIN the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria to ensure the implementation of the eligibility criteria for entry into and practice of journalism in Nigeria, as contained in the Nigerian Press Council Decree No 85 of 1992;
PLEDGE to abide by the Code of Ethics and to promote the observance of its provisions by all journalists; and
URGE the Nigerian Press Council to collaborate with the Nigerian Press Organisation to publicise the Code of Ethics for the benefit of the press and the public, and ensure compliance with its provisions hereafter.

Journalism entails a high degree of public trust. To earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and every news medium to observe the highest professional and ethical standards. In the exercise of these duties, a journalist should always have a healthy regard for the public interest.

Truth is the cornerstone of journalism and every journalist should strive diligently to ascertain the truth of every event.

Conscious of the responsibilities and duties of journalists as purveyors of information, we, Nigerian journalists, give to ourselves this Code of Ethics. It is the duty of every journalist to observe its provisions.

Decisions concerning the content of news should be the responsibility of a professional journalist.

i. The public has a right to know. Factual, accurate, balanced and fair reporting is the ultimate objective of good journalism and the basis of earning public trust and confidence.
ii. A journalist should refrain from publishing inaccurate and misleading information. Where such information has been inadvertently published, prompt correction should be made. A journalist must hold the right of reply as a cardinal rule of practice.
iii. In the course of his duties a journalist should strive to separate facts from conjecture and comment.

As a general rule, a journalist should respect the privacy of individuals and their families unless it affects the public interest.
A. Information on the private life of an individual or his family should only be published if it impinges on public interest.
B. Publishing of such information about an individual as mentioned above should be deemed justifiable only if it is directed at:
i. Exposing crime or serious misdemeanour;
ii. Exposing anti-social conduct;
iii. Protecting public health, morality and safety;
iv. Preventing the public from being misled by some statement or action of the individual concerned.

i. A journalist should observe the universally accepted principle of confidentiality and should not disclose the source of information obtained in confidence.
ii. A journalist should not breach an agreement with a source of information obtained as “off-the-record” or as “background information.”

i. A journalist should dress and comport himself in a manner that conforms with public taste.
ii. A journalist should refrain from using offensive, abusive or vulgar language.
iii. A journalist should not present lurid details, either in words or picture, of violence, sexual acts, abhorrent or horrid scenes.
iv. In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries should be carried out and approaches made with sympathy and discretion.
v. Unless it is in the furtherance of the public’s right to know, a journalist should generally avoid identifying relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime.

A journalist should refrain form making pejorative reference to a person’s ethnic group, religion, sex, or to any physical or mental illness or handicap.

i. A journalist should neither solicit nor accept bribes, gratifications or patronage to suppress or publish information.
ii. To demand payment for the publication of news is inimical to the notion of news as a fair, accurate, unbiased and factual report of an event.

A journalist should not present or report acts of violence, armed robberies, terrorist activities or vulgar display of wealth in a manner that glorifies such acts in the eyes of the public.

A journalist should not identify, either by name or picture, or interview children under the age of 16 who are involved in cases concerning sexual offences, crimes and rituals or witchcraft either as victims, witnesses or defendants.

A journalist should strive to employ open and honest means in the gathering of information.

Exceptional methods may be employed only when the public interest is at stake.

A journalist should strive to enhance national unity and public good.

A journalist should promote universal principles of human rights, democracy, justice, equity, peace and international understanding.

A journalist should not copy, wholesale or in part, other people’s work without attribution and/or consent.

i. Where a journalist reproduces a work, be it in print, broadcast, art work or design, proper acknowledgement should be accorded the author.
ii. A journalist should abide by all rules of copyright, established by national and international laws and conventions.

A journalist should strive at all times to enhance press freedom and responsibility.

NABJ Code of Ethics

Adopted by the NABJ Board of Directors
April 24, 2005


NABJ recognizes that credibility, integrity and truthfulness are building blocks of excellence in all forms of journalism. In order to earn and sustain the publics trust, news organizations and individual journalists must reflect the highest of ethical standards in their work.

NABJ's guidelines for newsroom conduct are part of this organizations renewed emphasis on ethical behavior. This is one response to the many signs of discontent directed at the news media. If the news media is to overcome doubts about the believability of editorial content, denials of bias, the motives of media owners and the First Amendment rights of journalists, then the case for credibility must be made more convincingly and more consistently.

NABJ is convinced that the news media's vast potential for informing the public becomes more possible with diverse staffing and diverse content anchored on a foundation of public trust. If connections to skeptical and sometimes hostile consumers of news are to be strengthened, daily vigilance in the pursuit of credibility, integrity, and truthfulness is essential. While NABJ has an abiding interest in the full range of activities and issues that affect its many goals, it is focusing this statement on one area deserving urgent attention: guidelines for the ethical work of journalists.



• public opinion with respect to the credibility of journalism is at a low point and that there is a need to make our organization a shining example of professional journalism;
• and whereas the highest journalistic ethical standards are cardinal in guaranteeing the independence and the integrity of our profession;
• and whereas NABJ members and chapters would benefit from a written Code of Ethics to help guide and inform sound professional conduct;

Therefore, be it resolved that NABJ members must adhere to its Constitution by being dedicated to truth and excellence in the news and holding high ethical standards, and that NABJ offers this Code of Ethics as a set of guidelines for ethical conduct by its members and affiliate chapters. These guidelines apply to news workers, at all levels of the operation, in all types of print, broadcast, new media and online operations.

Under these guidelines:

• NABJ members are encouraged to become involved in community activities but are expected to disclose their employment or other relationships with those entities that influence or seek to influence the news.
• NABJ members are encouraged to disclose or refrain from investments or business relationships that actually bring or may appear to bring into question the integrity of their journalistic works. Members are expected to avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
• NABJ members should disclose their political contributions to candidates and refrain from making such contributions in areas in which they cover or have journalistic contact.
• NABJ members should not accept free services or payments from news sources or public officials. In the same regard, NABJ members should not pay news sources, offer gifts to, or accept favors from those who seek to influence news coverage.
• NABJ members are urged to strive for words, images, graphics and sound that report truthfully, honestly and objectively.
• NABJ members should not alter words, images, graphics or sound in a manner that deceives the public. This includes fabricating, or plagiarizing quotations and facts or electronically altering images or sound.
• NABJ members should disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outside agencies, such as those provided in the form of news releases, public relations statements or audio or video releases.
• NABJ members should treat all subjects of news coverage with respect and dignity, particularly victims of crime and tragedy and their families.
• NABJ members should examine freelance opportunities and honoraria for speeches carefully to assure that they are not disguised as gratuities.
• NABJ members should refrain from surreptitious methods of gathering information or methods that misrepresent their standing except when traditional open methods have been exhausted or will not yield central information vital to the public.
• As an organization that represents members of a racial minority who understand the pain of discrimination, NABJ members should avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
• NABJ affiliate chapters should avoid association with organizations and activities that may compromise the integrity or damage credibility of its members.
• NABJ affiliate chapters should refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise the journalistic integrity of members or could be perceived as doing so.


NABJ seeks to encourage the best of ethical practices already in place among its membership and throughout the industry. No mere collection of rules and recommendations will serve the aims of quality journalism. On matters large and small, individuals with professional commitments to credibility, integrity and truthfulness will make the biggest difference. To this end, NABJ will:

• Create an ethics model. This will be in a multimedia format and accessible to all members via the Web site and the printed form.
• Include ethics seminars at regional and national conferences, as well as at NABJ Media Institute programs.
• Expand NABJ outreach to colleges and high schools by insisting that ethics be included in journalism classes.
• Create an ethics discussion forum online for members to seek answers or to have discussions of ethics issues.

Respectfully submitted,

Maidstone Mulenga (chairman), Bryan Monroe (NABJ Board liaison),
Caesar Andrews, Kenny Irby, Michael Fletcher, Sherrie Marshall,
Mike McQueen, Sonya Ross and Sidmel Estes-Sumpter

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