Kosovo: Code of Ethics

The Kosovo Press Code (available here in pdf format) was initially adopted in 2005 by chief editors and publishers of print media in Kosovo and amended in 2010 to offer additional clarification and explanation of the provisions in order to facilitate their implementation

In its preamble, the Code states that it provides the foundation system of self-regulation that should be considered morally and professionally binding on reporters, editors and the owners and publishers of newspapers and periodicals.

The Code sets up the guidelines for ethic and fair journalism. Among the first principles there is the need for journalists to be truthful and rely on identified sources of information. The Code also states that “it is the obligation of journalists, editors and newspapers to publish reactions and/or rebuttal when media present inaccurate information about an individual or organization”.

In January 2012, the Code was amended with additional guidelines for online journalism. These guidelines are related to the content of comments and reactions of the public, posted in the web based media and news agencies web pages:

  1. “The editorial boards should monitor its web pages and should make attempts to prevent publication of the content that in any way incites or uses denigrating speech and hatred or criminal offences. 
  2. The editorial board should not, publish articles or comments that incite or cause direct discrimination on the grounds of gender, age, marital status, language, physical or mental incapacity, sexual orientation, national origin, opinion or political affiliation, religion or faith, ethnic or social origin, race, property, birth or any other status. 
  3. The online forums that deal with children and young people should be monitored with special care.
  4. A clear distinction should be made between internet pages of printed media and forums reserved for publication of readers’ texts. (columns, opinions, comments, public reactions and editorials). 
  5. Before publication, the content of the news is processed by the editor or the editorial team according to the standard rules for verification of sources. The editorial board is responsible for everything that is published.
  6. In the forum discussions, the authors of the comments are primary responsible for them, but also the media that publishes them.  
  7. In the digital discussion forums, the media may function in a responsible manner by:
    • controlling the content that was received before publishing it in the forum (pre-monitoring), and
    • applying the necessary methods for omitting inadequate parts of the material as soon as possible (post monitoring).”

There is also a Broadcasting Media Code of Conduct, published in 2000.

The Radio and Television of Kosovo has its own professional standards and principles of Journalistic Ethics, which are described in a specific code (available here). The code is very extensive and accounts for a wide range of basic professional standards such as accuracy, impartiality, credibility, responsibility, independence. Furthermore it provides guidelines to follow in specific events such as when covering election campaigns or politics. It also provides production standards to adopt when gathering information for polls and surveys and explains how to present them to the audience. The Code also has a specific section for investigative journalism and gives indications on how to report on “special sections of society” such as sexual minorities or elder people. According to the Code, the RTK should provide legal assistance to its journalists and editors, even if they have infringed professional standards and ethical principles, committed an offence or breach of the law or any other provision of Kosovo or the country they report from. RTK will bear the costs of legal assistance. The Code is highly detailed and also provides indications concerning “on-air appearance and dress code”.

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