Swedish Publishing Rules

CODE OF ETHICS (Condensed Version)

The rules of the media and the faith of the public demands correct news, covered from as many points of view as possible.

Be critical of your sources. Check all the facts as carefully as possible, even if they have been published before. Give the reader a chance to see the difference between news and views.

Wrong facts shall be corrected when called for. Whoever has a legitimate cause for wanting to publish a reply or a clarification shall have his say in the paper as soon as possible.

Refrain from publicity that might invade somebody's privacy unless an imperative public interest demands publication. Deliberate extra carefully before publishing news about family quarrels, for example law suits about who of the parents is going to take care of the children. Think about the damage you can cause those involved.

Be extra careful when thinking about publication of suicides or attempts at suicide. Invasion of privacy!

Show the greatest possible consideration to victims of crimes or accidents. Do not make a point of the race, birth, nationality or sex of the involved person if it is irrelevant or can be thought as discrediting. The same principle should be applied to titles, political affiliations and religion.

Use these very same rules when it comes to pictures. Refrain from using pictures that can hurt or damage the people involved.

Do not falsify the pictures by cropping or any other method or by incorrect captions. Unauthentic pictures must not be called authentic. Show extra consideration when taking photographs of crime or accident scenes.

Make sure that persons who are criticized in articles have a chance to reply to the allegations. Be extra careful when writing about charges from somebody to any of the Ombudsmen of Parliament, the Bar Association and so forth. Such allegations and suits may have one cause only, to damage the other person.

Do not publish charges of crime unless the charge is well founded. Do not publish unnecessary details about persons mentioned in connection with crimes.

Do not choose sides before the court of law or any other authority has made its decision. The paper is not a court of law and it is not its job to decide who is guilty and who is not guilty. Report the points of view of all involved.

Refrain from naming names if it can hurt someone unless an imperative public interest demands otherwise. This goes for allegations/charges of crime and for people who have received their sentences.

If you do not name the persons involved you shall also refrain from publishing pictures of reporting such details as titles, ages, sex, nationalities, etc., that could make identification possible.

Do not report facts about earlier sentences or charges when writing a crime story unless you have very solid reasons for bringing up these earlier matters.

Do not accept any assignment from anyone outside your own editorial office. Do not accept invitations, presents, free trips or any other freebies that might endanger your position as a journalist.

Do not use your position as a journalist for your own sake, to get better treatment than any other member of society.

Do not use knowledge obtained as a journalist to enrich yourself, be it inside knowledge from authorities, companies, organizations or private persons.

Adds Bengt Erlandsson, who condensed the code for Art Nauman of the Sacramento Bee, the secretary of the Organization of News Ombudsmen:

"They have been agreed upon by the Employers' Organization and by the Union of the Journalists. The government has nothing to do with them and a break against them does not mean that a suit in a court of law will be a success. The actual law concerning freedom of the press is much broader and gives a paper a much better chance of winning a case.

"But if a paper or a magazine breaks these rules it might be reported to the News Ombudsman of the Public. He and his Press Council can `sentence' the sinning paper (or magazine) to a fine and the paper must publish the finding of the council or the ombudsman.

"First a few words about Swedish press laws. Every paper and magazine must have an editor responsible according to the law. It is he/she only who is answerable in a court to anybody suing the paper. The actual reporter who wrote the article is protected by this arrangement. So whatever I write, nobody can sue me, just the editor whose title could be translated as Responsible Publisher."