MEAA initiated press self-regulation in 1944 when it created the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics (see the FAQs about the Code here). You can download a .pdf of the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics by clicking here and download a poster version here. You can download a .pdf step-by-step guide to How MEAA’s Journalist Code of Ethics complaints process works here.
Under MEAA’s rules registered with the Fair Work Commission, only MEAA Media’s journalist members are bound by MEAA’s Journalist Code of Ethics – MEAA can undertake no action or investigation that involves individuals who are not MEAA members. Complaints about non-MEAA members should be taken up with the appropriate media employer and/or media industry body:
- The Australian Press Council has guidelines and standards for print and digital media outlets. The constituent bodies of the Australian Press Council and their publications can be viewed here.
- Broadcasting industry bodies also operate a complaints process: Free TV Australia; Commercial Radio Australia; the ABC and SBS; the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and Australian Community Television Alliance. The government regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, offers a mechanism for complaints about broadcasting.
MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics
Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists search, disclose, record, question, entertain, comment and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be responsible and accountable.
MEAA members engaged in journalism commit themselves to:
Respect for the rights of others
Journalists will educate themselves about ethics and apply the following standards:
Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.
Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
Do not plagiarise.
Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.
Guidance Clause: Basic values often need interpretation and sometimes come into conflict. Ethical journalism requires conscientious decision-making in context. Only substantial advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.
How to make a complaint
If you believe a journalist has breached MEAA’s Journalist Code of Ethics, you should lodge a written complaint stating:
The name of the journalist;
The action that you believe is unethical; and
The clause or clauses of the code that you believe have been breached.
The letter should be addressed to: Chief Executive, MEAA, PO Box 723, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012 or via email email@example.com Once the MEAA chief executive receives your letter, the chief executive will refer it to the National Ethics Committee (see below).
N.B. Only journalist members of MEAA are bound by MEAA’s Journalist Code of Ethics. MEAA can undertake no action or investigation if allegations are made against individuals who are not MEAA members. Complaintsabout non-MEAA members should be taken up with the appropriate media employer and/or media industry body (see above).