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See above parts of the new Haiti ethics code relevant to conflicts of interest. (Credit: Defend.ht, screenshot)

Kathie Klarreich highlighted ethical issues of conflict of interest in Haiti’s media in a post for the Society of Professional Journalists’ Quill magazine, republished by Carib Journal.

Klarreich, who noted that she was a Knight International Journalism fellow in Haiti, explained that because Haitian journalists are paid little, journalists often have to obtain other jobs that create conflicts of interest in order to get by.

“As a result, decisions that may seem unethical elsewhere in the world are status quo here,” she wrote.

As an example of these conflicts of interest, Klarreich cited the case of a journalist who was hired ” to run a presidential candidate’s campaign for the upcoming election.” The journalist didn’t view it as a conflict of interest, but as a conflict of time, she wrote.

Further, Klarreich explained: “The end result is that many journalists don’t see journalism as a career as much as they do a stepping stone for a better-paying job. Being a journalist opens doors they might otherwise not have access to.”

Klarreich noted that there are “sincere, honest and dedicated reporters” and that there have been “improvements..in raising the standards of reporting and ethics.”

We wrote in December about the first code of ethics in Haiti’s media.  The code was signed by several Haitian media groups and was announced by UNESCO.

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Concerning conflicts of interest, the code reads:

“The media and journalists should not yield to any pressure. Their main interest is to allow the public to enjoy their right to be informed. They are wary of any steps that could be established between themselves and their sources a relationship of dependency or connivance. Independent media and journalists is the fundamental condition of a free, pluralistic and responsible.”

The code also has a section for elections:

“During the election campaign, the media and journalists should not be advocating a political party or candidate. They must treat all parties and candidates in a fair, impartial and neutral. The media and journalists must obey the principle of balance by relaying several conflicting opinions in articles and broadcasts. Extracts from statements made by candidates and political leaders must be substantially reproduced, respecting the context in which they were delivered. The media and journalists must learn and respect the electoral law.”

UNESCO‘s Haitian bureau director Lamine Bechir told iMediaEthics at the time that the code took about six months to create.

We have written to Klarreich, UNESCO’s Haitian bureau director Lamine Bachir, the National Association of Media in Haiti’s president Max Chauvet through Le Nouvelliste’s website, and the Association of Haitian Journalists’ Jacques Desrosiers through Le Matin Publicite. We will update with any responses.

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Conflicts of Interest an Ethical Issue in Haiti

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