24. Responsible journalism

A journalist is accountable every time he goes out on the field. He’ll catch pictures, sounds, words, and statements that aren’t his. His legitimacy to tape and broadcast such information to society as a whole only stands because he’s mindful of privacy and of everybody’s right to his or her own image. Each time the general interest is at stake, he shouldn’t hesitate to take risk : this is all about the part journalism plays in a democratic society.  

  • Know precisely the status of the place where you’re shooting, check if it’s a public or private place.
  • Never shoot against the will of the people you’ve contacted. Be patient; inspire trust to get the right to shoot.
  • Shooting in hidden cam is only possible when you are absolutely sure there’s no other way. The journalist must check that in case somebody sues, he will always be able to stand by his duty to inform all and that in such a case, general interest prevailed over private rights.
  • Never pay your sources unless there’s no other choice, and always in reasonable proportions when it’s an actual scoop. Rather use simple and inexpensive gifts, small attentions that won’t sully your journalistic independence.
  • Never betray a source if they ask for a delay before broadcasting or demands anonymity.

A journalist NEVER accepts money or any type of advantage from his sources or the people involved in a report.

Amateur footage ?

In case of traumatic events, such as earthquakes or terrorist acts, find amateur footage shot from a cam or a mobile phone. Careful : always check where the footage comes from and stay in touch with the person who gave it to you. If it’s a fake, you’re accountable for failing to check it.

The right to protect your sources is stated in the article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention.