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Australia – (E7) Codes of ethics at the national level (structure)

Score in short:

The journalists’ code of ethics is well-known in the print industry but is becoming less suited to new online environments.

Score in detail:

Australia’s journalistic code of ethics was first adopted in 1944 (Lloyd 1985, 228), and has been revised twice since. It was drafted by the Australian Journalists’ Union and has all the hallmarks of a union-based code (Josephi 1998). For a long time, it was Australia’s only journalistic code of ethics. Concise in nature and upheld by the union to which a high proportion of Australian journalists used to belong, it is well-known to journalists and in newsrooms. As confirmed by all interviewees, the Australian journalists’ code of ethics has had a deep professional penetration.

Over the past two decades, more and more media companies added their own in-house codes of conduct to the Australian Journalists’ Union – now Media, entertainment and Arts Alliance (MeAA) – code (see, e.g., The Age 2002). As the online presence of print media companies continually extends, several of the interviewees mentioned that they are now confronted with ethical issues that they previously did not have to consider and which their codes do not cover, such as dealing with social media sites. As there are ever occurring transgressions, the debate about media ethics in newsrooms, in the journalists’ union and in the media continues loud and clear.