The Statement of General Principles
Accuracy and clarity
Fairness and balance
Privacy and avoidance of harm
Integrity and transparency
The Statement of Privacy Principles
These cover the following areas:
Collection of personal information
Use and disclosure of personal information
Quality of personal information
Security of personal information
Anonymity of sources
Correction, fairness and balance
Sensitive personal information
Privacy Principle 1: Collection of personal information
In seeking personal information, journalists should not unduly intrude on the privacy of individuals and should show respect for the dignity and sensitivity of people encountered in the course of gathering news.
In accordance with Principle 7 of the Council’s Statement of General Principles, media organisations should take reasonable steps to avoid publishing material which has been gathered by deceptive or unfair means, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest. Generally, journalists should identify themselves as such. However, journalists and photographers may at times need to operate surreptitiously to expose crime, significantly anti- social conduct, public deception or some other matter in the public interest.
Public figures necessarily sacrifice their right to privacy, where public scrutiny is in the public interest. However, public figures do not forfeit their right to privacy altogether. Intrusion into their right to privacy must be related to their public duties or activities.
Privacy Principle 2: Use and disclosure of personal information
Personal information gathered by journalists and photographers should only be used for the purpose for which it was intended. A person who supplies personal information should have a reasonable expectation that it will be used for the purpose for which it was collected.
Some personal information, such as addresses or other identifying details, may enable others to intrude on the privacy and safety of individuals who are the subject of news coverage, and their families. To the extent lawful and practicable, a media organisation should only disclose sufficient personal information to identify the persons being reported in the news, so that these risks can be reasonably avoided.
Privacy Principle 3: Quality of personal information
A media organisation should take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information it collects is accurate, complete and up-to-date.
Privacy Principle 4: Security of personal information
A media organisation should take reasonable steps to ensure that the personal information it holds is protected from misuse, loss, or unauthorised access.
Privacy Principle 5: Anonymity of sources
All persons who provide information to media organisations are entitled to seek anonymity. The identity of confidential sources should not be revealed, and where it is lawful and practicable, a media organisation should ensure that any personal information derived from such sources that it holds does not identify the source.
Privacy Principle 6: Correction, fairness and balance
In accordance with Principle 3 of the Council’s Statement of General Principles, media organisations should take reasonable steps to ensure that factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance, and that writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts. In accordance with Principle 4 of the Council’s Statement of General Principles, media organisations should take reasonable steps to ensure that where material refers adversely to a person, a fair opportunity is given for subsequent publication of a reply if that is reasonably necessary to address a possible breach of General Principle 3. A media organisation should take reasonable steps to provide a correction or other adequate remedial action for publishing any personal information that is significantly inaccurate or misleading, in accordance with Principle 2 of the Council’s Statement of General Principles. The media organisation should also take steps to correct any of its records containing that personal information, so as to avoid a harmful inaccuracy being repeated.
Privacy Principle 7: Sensitive personal information
In accordance with Principle 6 of the Council’s Statement of General Principles, media organisations should take reasonable steps to avoid causing or contributing materially to substantial offence, distress or prejudice, or a substantial risk to health or safety, unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest.
Members of the public caught up in newsworthy events should not be exploited. A victim or bereaved person has the right to refuse or terminate an interview or photographic session at any time.
Unless otherwise restricted by law or court order, open court hearings are matters of public record and can be reported by the press. Such reports need to be fair and balanced. They should not identify relatives or friends of people accused or convicted of crime unless the reference to them is necessary for the full, fair and accurate reporting of the crime or subsequent legal proceedings.
Specific Standards on Coverage of Suicide
General reporting and discussion
Reporting individual instances
be given to whether at least one of the following criteria is satisfied:
(a) clear and informed consent* has been provided by appropriate relatives or close
friends*; or (b) reporting the death as suicide is clearly in the public interest*.
account should be taken of whether at least one of the following criteria is satisfied:
(a) clear and informed consent has been provided by appropriate relatives or close
friends; or (b) identification is clearly in the public interest.
Reporting methods and locations
Responsibility and balance
Sensitivity and moderation
Sources of assistance
Specific Standards on Contacting Patients
Informed consent from the patient
patient’s informed consent unless
(a) the activity is an initial communication from outside the hospital for the purpose
of seeking informed consent*; or (b) an authorised person* confirms to them that informed consent has been given
by the patient; or (c) an authorised person has approved the contact on condition that no patient will be identifiable in any published material.
Permission to visit the patient
(a) they obtained permission from a person whom it was reasonable to believe was
an authorised person; and (b) they made adequate disclosure to that person of the nature and purpose of the
Ceasing contact with the patient
(a) asked to do so by the patient, or by an authorised person on reasonable
grounds; or (b) it becomes reasonably clear that the patient is not adequately aware of what
the contact involves and its likely consequences.