Online media have enabled everyone to be a potential journalist. Today, virtually everyone can contribute to news making, for instance by sending tips and photos to newsrooms, by starting a weblog or by participating in online discussion fora. As a result, the definition of journalism is put under pressure’’ Ethics and rights for online journalists: inseparable and obligatory? By E. Werkers, P. Valcke, S. Paulussen, D. Geens and K. Vandenbrande.

After long deliberation and research, Common Views adopts the following code of ethics. Authors, Opinion Writers, and commentators who contribute to CV are requested to strictly adhere to the following code of ethics.

1. Freedom of Expression.

It is your right to voice your opinion. Freedom of Speech, Information, Publication, and Expression are basic elements of a democracy. As a writer, it is your obligation to use and protect these rights at all times.

2. Be honest with your readers and transparent about your work. If people wonder for a moment about your honesty or your motives, you’ve lost credibility with them. Don’t let them do that. Answer those questions even before readers ask.

3. Report the Accurate Truth

Citizen journalists are accountable to their readers, many of who depend on their reports for new perspectives on news stories from a regular citizen’s perspective. In order to be reliable to them, we must ensure our sources are verified, accurate, and not based on mere rumors and/or speculations. Do not ever take unconfirmed reports as facts due to fear of misleading readers into thinking those are absolute truths.

4. Fairness.

Do not make condescending remarks towards a party or group of individuals. Opinion pieces may include your views and opinions for or against an issue, but arguments must be sound and written in a professional manner. Represent your thoughts fairly, backing them up with credible and verifiable sources. As much as you can, display both sides to an argument for purposes of fair treatment and in this way, avoid bias. This way, readers will be able to form their own opinions, and not simply follow that of the article’s.

5. Always preserve the intended meaning of a given statement.

When quoting or paraphrasing a statement always ensure that the intended meaning is communicated. Never edit or change a statement in such a way that the intended meaning is changed.

6. Never plagiarize. Always attribute.

Plagiarism is traditionally defined as taking someone else’s work and presenting it as your own. In journalism, it is considered one of the primary sins of the profession. Many journalists have lost their jobs or faced legal action for lifting others’ writing or other production In your own work, consider the Golden Rule–Do unto others as you would have them do unto you–when assessing whether to credit another news outlet’s work. A similar consideration holds when sharing photos, updates, or tweets on social media.

7. Language.

It is important to remain conscious of the ethical liabilities of writing. A writer must be concerned with not only avoiding plagiarism by properly citing sources but also with language usage and the avoidance of offensive linguistic tendencies. A writer may unintentionally employ racially-charged, sexist, and offensive language without any conscious recognition. The best way to avoid such errors is to remain mindful of the following ethical pitfalls:

7.1Do not making sweeping generalizations about a specific gender, ethnic minority, or any other category of people.

7.2 When referring to racial groups use the accurate and politically correct terminology.

7.3 Avoid overly inclusive racial terms.

7.4 Racial titles such as “Black” should be capitalized.

7.5 Avoid sexist phrasing, such as gender-oriented diction

7.6 Remain conscious of how you refer to individuals, even fictitious character: using “boy” or “girl” to refer to individuals above the age of eighteen may carry racial overtones and create a patronizing tone.

7.7 When referring to individuals with physical impairments always place the description after the subject; for example, the man who is blind rather than the blind man.

7.8 Omit language associated with negative stereotypes, such as redneck and welfare mother.

7.9 Omit all types of obscene, profane, libelous, and foul languages.

8. Admit and correct your mistakes immediately.

When an inaccuracy or error in your content is discovered by you or someone else, correct it immediately and announce that you have done so to ensure that those who base their opinions and other content on the incorrect information have a chance to make corrections as well. It is your duty to uphold the truth and present fact even if that means admitting you were wrong

9.0. Publication Rules

9.1. Make plain what is factual information and what is a comment.

9.2. Always respect a person’s character and identity, privacy, race, nationality, and belief. Never draw attention to personal or private aspects if they are irrelevant.

9.3. Make sure that headlines, introductions, and leads do not go beyond what is being related in the text.

9.4. Always reveal your source when the information is quoted from or based on other content including the general media.

9.5. In particular, avoid presumption of guilt in crime and court reporting. Make it evident that the question of guilt, whether relating to somebody under suspicion, reported, accused or charged, has not been decided until the sentence has legal efficacy. It is a part of good press conduct to report the final result of court proceedings, which have been reported earlier.

9.6. Always consider how reports on accidents and crime may affect the victims and next-of-kin of both victims and the accused. Do not identify victims or missing persons unless next-of-kins have been informed. Show consideration towards people in grief or at times of shock.

9.7. Be cautious in the use of names and photographs and other clear identifiers of persons in referring to contentious or punishable matters.

9.8. Reporting on children, it is considered good press conduct to assess the implications that media focusing could cause in each case. This also pertains when the person in charge or parent, has agreed to exposure. As a general rule, the identity of children should not be disclosed in reports on family disputes or cases under consideration by the childcare authorities or by the courts.

9.9. When using photos, graphics, illustrations, video, audio, or any other type of content always credit the original creator.

9.10.Exercise caution when using photos in any other context than the original.

9.11. Incorrect information must be corrected and, when called for, an apology is given, as soon as possible.

9.12. Those who have been subjected to strong accusations shall, if possible, have the opportunity to simultaneous reply as regards factual information. Debates, criticism, and dissemination of news must not be hampered by parties being unwilling to make comments or take part in the debate.

9.13. Those who have been the subject of an attack shall have the chance to reply at the earliest opportunity unless the attack and criticism are part of a running exchange of views. Any reply should be of reasonable length, be pertinent to the matter, and seemly in its form. The reply can be refused if the party in question has rejected, without an objective reason, an offer of presenting a contemporaneous rejoinder on the same issue. Replies and contributions to the debate should not be accompanied by a polemic editorial comment.

9.14. Beware that digital publication pointers and links could bring you to other electronic media that do not comply with the Ethical Code. See to it that links to other media or publications are clearly marked. It is considered good press conduct to inform the users of interactive services on how the publication registers you and possibly exploits your use of the services.

10. These guidelines are subject to change.

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Valcke, P., Paulussen, s., & Vandenbrande, K. (2008). Ethics and rights for online journalists: inseparable and obligatory? ‘The end of journalism” International Journalism conference (p. 11). Luton,Uk: Center for International Media Analysis.