IFJ Backs New Campaign Against Bribery and Corruption in Journalism

The International Federation of Journalists today gave its backing to a new initiative to eliminate the practice of bribery in journalism.

The IFJ is one of six organisations supporting a set of principles designed to foster greater transparency in the dealings between public relations professionals and the media, and to end bribery for media coverage throughout the world.

“The problem of ‘journalism for sale’ or paid-for material posing as legitimate news reporting is one of the greatest challenges facing media today,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The practice erodes public confidence, undermines professionalism and makes a mockery of ethical values.”

The IFJ Congress in Athens in May this year called for action to promote quality in journalism. “This set of principles is a welcome step from within the industry to get the mission of journalism back on track and to eliminate all forms of corruption,” said White.

The other groups supporting the statement of principles are the International Press Institute, Transparency International, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management, the Institute for Public Relations Research and Education, and the International Public Relations Association.

The principles, embodied in the Charter on Media Transparency developed by the International Public Relations Association, are that:

  • News material should appear as a result of the news judgment of journalists and editors, and not as a result of any payment in cash or in kind, or any other inducements.

  • Material involving payment should be clearly identified as advertising, sponsorship or promotion.

  • No journalist or media representative should ever suggest that news coverage will appear for any reason other than its merit.

  • When samples or loans of products or services are necessary for a journalist to render an objective opinion, the length of time should be agreed in advance and loaned products should be returned afterward.

  • The media should institute written policies regarding the receipt of gifts or discounted products and services, and journalists should be required to sign the policy.

    “This initiative is most welcome,” said White. “It sheds a welcome light on the often shadowy dealings between the business world and journalism and helps us focus on the need for quality media.”

    Last year the Institute for Public Relations Research and Education and the International Public Relations Association released an index ranking 66 nations for the likelihood that print journalists will seek or accept cash for news coverage. Frank Ovaitt, President and CEO-Elect of the Institute says: “We believe this is a critical issue that serious journalists and public relations people must address together.”

    The Institute’s study of bribery for news coverage can be accessed at: Bribery Study

    Full Press Statement on Statement of Principles

    Further Information: Aidan White, +32 2 235 2200, Aidan White