Educational sheet 4


Level : Easy

Educational goals

Objective 1: Instructors are able to define freedom of expression and freedom of the press as well as their role in a democratic society.

Objective 2: Instructors are capable of presenting the various ethical principles for journalists.

Objective 3: Instructors can explain to students the key role of journalists in society, including that of a counterweight that, when necessary, denounces abuses of power by the leadership.


  • Freedom of expression is a right: the right to freely express your thoughts.


While freedom of expression gives everyone the freedom to think and express their opinions, it has its limits: care must be taken to avoid defamation, injury, incitement of hatred toward any group on the basis of religion, skin colour, or sexuality, and encouraging terrorism and war crimes.


  • Freedom of the press is a reflection of the freedom of expression. It guarantees that citizens will have all the necessary information to form an opinion freely.


The role of newspapers is to enlighten readers and encourage citizens to discuss ideas. To do this, journalists follow certain rules. They can talk about any topic, but they must take care to check their information to ensure quality.


In some countries, press freedom is under threat and journalists are kept from covering certain events or criticising the people in power. Each year, the NGO Reporters Without Borders publishes a world press freedom ranking.




  • Journalism is a field that involves researching information, verifying it, putting it in context, categorising it, formatting it, providing commentary on it, and publishing high-quality news; it is not to be confused with communication.
  • Journalism as a profession: The idea of urgency or publishing a scoop must not take precedence over serious enquiry and the verification of sources. To work properly, journalists must be able to carry out all of the activities of their profession (enquiry, investigation, capturing images and sound, etc.) freely and have access to all information sources relevant to the facts that affect public life. They must also be able to guarantee the secrecy of their sources.
  • The Munich Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Journalists, written in 1971 with participation of all journalism syndicates at the European level, provides guidelines for practicing ethical journalism. According to the declaration, a journalist worthy of the title must:
  • Respect human dignity and the presumption of innocence;
  • Regard a critical mind, truth, accuracy, integrity, equity, and impartiality as the pillars of journalism;
  • Regard baseless accusations, intent to harm, altering documents, distorting facts, doctoring images, lies, manipulation, censorship and self-censorship, and a lack of fact-checking as the gravest professional abuses;
  • Exercise great vigilance before divulging where information comes from;
  • Be entitled to follow up on interviews, which is in turn holds them accountable for the information they reveal and ensures rapid correction of any such information that should prove to be inaccurate;
  • Defend the freedom of expression, opinion, information, commentary, and criticism;
  • Shun any disloyal or corrupt methods of obtaining information;
  • Not receive payment from any public service, institution, or private enterprise in which his or her standing as a journalist, influences, or relationships are vulnerable to exploitation.