Code of Journalistic Ethics

An RFA Mandarin broadcaster prepares to begin a news webcast.

At the very core of RFA’s mission is strict adherence to the highest standards of journalism. All RFA journalists (including all who gather, obtain, post, or disseminate reports or programs for RFA) must conduct themselves professionally and ethically and promote the highest standards of journalism, in accordance with the following basic principles:1

  • RFA reports and programs must be accurate, fair, and balanced.

  • RFA journalists must maintain a calm, dispassionate tone and avoid polemics, propaganda, or slurs directed against any persons, groups, or governments. RFA journalists must not preach or talk down to listeners.

  • RFA journalists must not incite listeners to violence or encourage acts of rebellion or emigration; rather, they should uphold democratic values such as the free flow of information and provide a forum for a variety of opinions and points of view.

  • When covering or reporting on terrorism, extremism, or threats of violence, RFA journalists must: be alert to and guard against potential harm to themselves and others; and not allow RFA to be used as a platform for extremist propaganda or violent threats. RFA journalists must consult with the Managing Director, SE Asia or Managing Director, NE Asia (as applicable), or the Vice President of Programming, in advance of broadcasting or publishing, if the broadcast or publication could place RFA at risk of being used as a platform for such a purpose.

  • RFA journalists must not include rumor or unsubstantiated information in any report or program. Whenever possible, they must seek and obtain more than one source for a story.

  • If an RFA journalist makes a material error in a broadcast or published RFA news, commentary, or information, the journalist must promptly acknowledge the error and issue a correction, typically via the same communication medium in which the error was disseminated.

  • RFA journalists must give full credit when using any part of another news organization’s or media source’s interviews, reports, or materials.

  • RFA journalists must remain independent of any political party, opposition group, exile organization, or religious body in the countries to which RFA news and information are disseminated, and must not advocate any political viewpoint potentially compromising or being perceived as compromising RFA’s objectivity or impartiality.

  • RFA journalists must clearly identify outside contributors and, in any commentary, include a disclaimer that the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of RFA. In each case, RFA retains the right to edit the work of outside contributors and make the final decision as to what goes into a report or program.

  • RFA journalists must not accept anything of value such as gifts, favors, or trips from news sources or others who might be in a position to influence RFA’s reports or programs.

  • RFA journalists must not take on work or activities outside of RFA that would infringe on their responsibilities to RFA. Anyone who wants to pursue such an outside responsibility or activity, including the making of speeches or other public appearances related to the activities of RFA, must obtain prior approval as provided in the Conflict of Interests policy.

  • In their work for RFA, journalists must not identify or hold themselves out as representing any other entity or media organization, government body, or NGO.

1 Though journalistic matters are primarily the responsibility of the Editorial Division, all employees should be knowledgeable and supportive of this Code of Journalistic Ethics.

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