On the Rights, Duties, Obligations, and Responsibilities of Journalists and the Media.

On the Rights, Duties, Obligations, and Responsibility of Journalists and the Media

Our Editor-in-Chief of CCO Magazine, Thomas Barat is also the Ethics&Compliance Director of The Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the USA (AFPC-USA).
In this position, he wrote a summary entitled “On the Rights, Duties, Obligations, and Responsibilities of Journalists and the Media”. This was published on the foreignpress.org MediaPlatform. Our newspaper eccoma.info publishes the article in full.

On the Rights, Duties, Obligations, and Responsibilities of Journalists and the Media

The press needs to clarify the rights, duties, and responsibilities of journalists. This has particular importance from an ethical and compliance perspective. This is extremely important at a time when artificial intelligence is becoming more widespread.

The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 but any declaration of human obligation and responsibilities is still awaiting adoption by the UN.

A proposal called “The Universal Declaration of Human Duties and Responsibilities” was made in 1979; this proposal outlines the implicit system of duties and responsibilities inherent in our human rights systems. It builds upon the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlines the rights of journalists and the press. Of particular importance is Article 19, which states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Although Article 29 of the Declaration also talks about obligations, it does so in very general terms. “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.”

This is why the journalistic community needs to clarify its rights and obligations.


The Rights, Duties, and Obligations of the Media

Journalists play a crucial role in maintaining media culture and a democratic society. The free flow of information and the protection of sources contribute to social development and the protection of individual rights. Journalists have a fundamental right to know what is happening in society and a duty to inform society as accurately as possible.

Journalists’ rights are of paramount importance in democratic societies. There is a lot of talk about the rights of the media and journalism, but less about duties.

The United States Constitution defines the right to freedom of speech and of the press. The First Amendment protects both. According to this, journalists have the right to access public places to gather and disseminate news. This includes, among other things, the ability to record video or audio of public events, including law enforcement activities, as long as they are not interfering with or obstructing law enforcement.

In this regard, it is the duty and responsibility of journalists when covering events and the media has maintained neutrality. The journalist also complies with law enforcement.

The International Declaration on the Protection of Journalists states that all journalists have the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas, regardless of borders.

Journalists have the right to access all information sources and inquire freely about events affecting public life. Journalists are treated as ordinary citizens but have special rights. The journalist has an obligation and responsibility to seek truth and provide a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Still, every journalist must consider staying informed and upholding the principles of ethical journalism!

Journalists have the right to protect their sources of information. It is the general right of media content providers to keep the identity of the information source confidential. In addition, journalists are entitled to refer to anonymous sources. A responsible journalist is one who consciously accepts the consequences of his or her decisions, judgments, actions, deeds, conduct, and behavior, based on his or her principles and moral outlook.

We also have to discuss the obligations and responsibilities in more detail. First of all, attention should be drawn to the Universal Declaration of Human Duties, which is a motion of the InterAction Council agreed to in 1997 that recognizes the dignity, equal and inalienable rights of all people in the world, as well as the basis of freedom, justice, and peace. (The InterAction Council is an independent international organization established in 1983. It brings together a group of statesmen who have held the highest office in their respective countries.)

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Duties, all people have duties and responsibilities.

Some highlights of the duties from the statement:

  • The dignity of all people

  • Solidarity and humane treatment: Every person must treat all people humanely. People should act in solidarity with each other.

  • Moral standards above right and wrong: No one is above right and wrong; they are all subject to moral standards.

  • Responsibility for a better society: Every person has to promote good and avoid evil.

All responsible journalists and the entire media should act accordingly.


Ethics and Principles

In the context of journalistic duties, we need to talk about the ethical duties of journalists.

These are probably the most important duties:

  • Accuracy and Truthfulness: Journalists have to report accurate and factual information. Verify facts, cite reliable sources, and correct any errors promptly.

  • Independence and Impartiality: Maintain independence from political, commercial, and other influences. Avoid conflicts of interest.

  • Fairness and Objectivity: Treat all subjects fairly and without bias and represent diverse perspectives.

  • Integrity: A clear distinction between news reporting and opinion articles.

  • Present a balanced view of events, allowing readers to form their own opinions.

  • Privacy and Sensitivity: Respect individuals’ privacy rights. Avoid unnecessary intrusion into private lives.



Journalists and media professionals have a set of rights, duties, obligations, and responsibilities that guide their work.

Some key points: These principles are outlined in the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists.


  • Journalists have the right to gather, report, and interpret information.

  • They have the right to protect their sources and maintain confidentiality.

Duties and Obligations:

  • Journalists should strive to seek truth and provide a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.

  • They should test the accuracy of information from all sources.

  • Journalists should seek out subjects of news stories to allow them to answer the questions.

  • They should always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity.

  • Journalists should avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information.


  • Journalists have the responsibility to uphold standards of accuracy and fairness.

  • They should make certain any published information is not misrepresented.

  • Journalists should never distort the content of publishing materials.

  • They have the responsibility to respect confidentiality and the need for responsible sourcing and fact-checking.

The declaration of the InterAction Council stated that “Because rights and duties are inextricably linked, the idea of a human right only makes sense if we acknowledge the duty of others to respect it. The importance of the concept of responsibility should not be overlooked. After all, it is a sense of responsibility that makes people accountable for their actions. Indeed, we are all responsible for the problems humanity faces today.”

We journalists have a duty to inform society about what is happening in the world. Part of this obligation is to respect and enforce the written and unwritten rules of our profession.

Thomas Barat