The primary objective of news dissemination is to ensure that people know what is happening and understand the possible causes so they can form their own opinions and arrive at their conclusions. Therefore, a journalist’s most valuable asset remains public respect, which must first be earned and then maintained through adherence to the highest standards of professional integrity.

This is why, if the journalistic community is to play its due role in Pakistan, it must submit its behavior to the most rigorous scrutiny. Codification of our ethics is, therefore, imperative.

Dawn has always strived to discharge its duties and to encourage its staff members to discharge their responsibilities in line with the ideals of journalistic ethics and principles. In keeping with this effort, the following constitutes the baseline standards of a Code of Media Ethics for the members of Dawn’s editorial team, in conformity with universally accepted norms.

Code of Media Ethics

A journalist:

  • Must uphold the highest professional and ethical standards and ensure that the information/editorial content they provide is fair, unbiased, and accurate.
  • Shall avoid falsification by distortion, selection, or misrepresentation.
  • I’d like you to do your best to correct any errors.
  • Shall, at all times, defend the freedom of the press and other media about collecting information and expressing comment and criticism.
  • Shall strive to eliminate distortion and news suppression.
  • Shall not accept any personal favors, bribes, or inducements or allow any other factor, such as advertising revenue for the Dawn Media Group, to influence the performance of their professional duties.
  • You won’t take private advantage of information gained during your professional duties.
  • I would like you to protect confidential sources of information which can be shared with the line manager and the Editor.
  • Shall mention a person’s age, gender, ethnicity, caste, sect, color, creed, illegitimacy, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation ONLY if this information is strictly relevant.
  • Shall neither originate nor process material that encourages discrimination, ridicule, prejudice, or hatred on any of the accounts mentioned above.
  • Shall obtain information, data, photographs, and illustrations only by straightforward means; the use of other means can be justified only for reasons of overriding public interest and with the specific permission of the editor.
  • Please don’t intrude into anybody’s private life, grief, or distress unless it is for reasons of overriding public interest, and then only with the permission of the Editor.
  • Shall be within the limits of ethical caution and fair comment in their zeal to break a story.
  • Shall not glorify the perpetrators of illegitimate acts of violence committed under any garb or cause, including honor and religion.
  • Shall take care while reporting on militants/insurgents/extremists needing to balance public interest with the danger of ‘advertising’ extremist ideologies.
  • Shall not print or upload gory images of violence, mutilated bodies, and victims of any tragedy unless this is inevitable and in the public interest.
  • Shall take the most excellent care while reporting running stories involving sectarian clashes, communal disturbances, ethnic strife, hostage situations, etc., so as not to cause further deterioration, jeopardize lives or operations, or fan public discontent and anger.
  • Shall not identify or photograph minor children and infants who result from sexual abuse, forced marriage, or any irresponsible partnering of their parents.
  • Shall not identify or photograph rape victims or people living with HIV/AIDS without their permission. In the case of minors, particular care will be taken, and approval will be sought from their parent/ guardian after discussing potential implications.
  • Shall not identify the accused in rape cases until the court indicts the latter.
  • Shall not plagiarise and must honor copyright when using textual, video, or image material from external sources.
  • Shall not be guilty of gender discrimination, either in dispensing their professional duties or interacting with fellow journalists. Shall exhibit sensitivity to gender-role stereotyping by refraining from exploitation and reflecting both genders’ intellectual and emotional equality while writing.
  • Shall always follow the guidelines on employees’ use of social media.
  • Shall not undermine the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and democracy, and abide by national and international laws and conventions while reporting/commenting on regional and international affairs.