Launched in 2002, Times of Pakistan upholds its commitment to ethical journalism with accuracy, impartiality, objectivity, and accountability as cornerstones of its policy. It is widely acknowledged that Pakistani journalists should follow global practice to detach themselves from groups and regions to avoid any kind of preference in their professional journalistic writings.
At Times of Pakistan, all journalists are permitted to seek the truth and report it, with a strict focus on fact-checking, source identification, and prevention of intentional information distortion. Times of Pakistan (Private) Limited – a privately-owned entity – operates Times of Pakistan as a responsible media outlet, and it has incorporated well-established ethical codes of conduct. These guiding principles include:
- Adherence to the journalistic values of credibility, fairness, independence, balance, and diversity, with no priority given to considerations other than professionalism.
- Clear differentiation between news material, opinion, and analysis to prevent hazards of speculation and propaganda.
- Observance of transparency in dealing with news and sources while following globally-established practices concerning the rights of news sources.
- A commitment to declaring truth in news stories clearly, leaving no doubt about their validity and accuracy.
- Sharing of diverse viewpoints and opinions without preference. Additionally, recognition of the diversity in human societies, encompassing races, cultures, beliefs, values, and individualities, in order to present an unbiased reflection of them.
- The treatment of readers with due respect and careful attention to presenting an accurate picture while fully considering feelings of victims of persecution, crime, and disaster, their relatives, viewers, and individual privacy and public decorum.
- Acknowledgment of mistakes when they occur, their prompt correction, and ensuring they do not reappear.
- Cooperation with all journalists and their associations to defend concepts of freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Pakistan.
Founded in 2012 by distinguished journalists in partnership with civil society organizations, the Pakistan Coalition for Ethical Journalism (PCEJ) took an initiative in 2015 to develop a unifying Code of Ethics for Pakistani journalists and media houses. Like other media houses, Times of Pakistan leadership has a firm believe that journalists must follow ethical journalism in addition to national and global standards set for media professionals.
During their job, journalists are expected to exercise compassion and commitment while avoiding unnecessary intrusiveness. All journalists are required to keep in mind pure professional integrity as the baseline of their credibility. The Pakistan Coalition for Ethical Journalism suggested that journalists and media houses follow core principles of ethical journalism, agreed upon as constituents of a recommended Code of Ethics.
- Truth and Accuracy – All journalists should seek the truth through accurate and fact-based communications.
- Pluralism – Journalists and media outlets shall strive to present all sides of a story and, where possible, give voice to different and opposing opinions, including those from minority groups.
- Fairness, and Impartiality – Journalists shall be professional and maintain editorial independence in the exercise of their work, avoiding conflicts of interest and undue bias.
- Confidentiality and Privacy – Journalists should respect privacy and ensure the confidentiality of survivors/victims, refraining from intruding into their private spaces.
- Accountability and Good Governance – Media outlets and the journalists who work for them shall engage with the audience, correct errors of fact, provide remedies, and apologize when appropriate. They shall be transparent in their work and apply principles of good governance in their activities.
- Do No Harm – Journalists shall be aware of the dangers of publishing explicit, violent images and dead bodies and shall avoid spreading editorial material that inspires hatred or incitement to violence.
‘Times of Pakistan will establish an ethics body in the newsroom to monitor content, promoting best practices in reporting’
Times of Pakistan has a clear policy and commitment to follow ethical journalism and to support journalists both within and outside the team in adhering to ethics and standards. An ethics committee will soon be established in the newsroom of Times of Pakistan to monitor reporting and content, promoting best practices in ethical reporting for staff members.
In accordance with their obligation, a neutral, non-staff member will also be appointed in Times of Pakistan as an ombudsman to address and redress complaints from media consumers on ethical concerns. It is believed that media professionals must take complaints related to a story being considered unfair or defamatory seriously.
It is also essential to remember that there is no alternative to a better worked-out multi-tier system of regulation if the Pakistani media is to regain its ‘lost’ glory and respect.