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The Belgian press council (CDJ) launches its first campaign aimed at the general public to (re)affirm the link between journalistic ethics and trustworthy information

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© AADJ/CDJ x 87seconds

The Conseil de déontologie journalistique (CDJ), the journalistic self-regulatory body for French- and German-speaking Belgium, just launched its first awareness campaign aimed at the general public. The CDJ wants everyone to know that, together with its members, it is committed to ensuring that journalistic ethics are respected, so as to guarantee trustworthy information for all.

On the eve of its 15th anniversary and the five-fold elections in Belgium, the CDJ is sending out a clear message to the public: journalism is a profession! You can’t improvise yourself as a journalist, just as you can’t claim to be a news medium without incurring responsibility. Journalists and media thus have a professional deontology to uphold, the principles of which are set out in a Code of ethics (informing with respect for the truth and independently, acting loyally and respecting the rights of persons). And, when they become involved in the AADJ, the association that structures the press council, these journalists and media make a commitment not only to ensure that these principles are respected, but also to answer to the Council for any breaches reported – and to improve their practices if necessary.

In journalism, as elsewhere, mistakes are human and therefore possible. A misleading headline, a stigmatising illustration, inadequate framing during a live interview…? The CDJ responds – free of charge – to queries from the public, i.e., requests for information, requests for mediation and complaints. At the interface between the public and editorial offices, the CDJ is not a fact-checking institute, a control board or a court of law: it is a moral authority, made up of representatives of the profession (media publishers, journalists, editors-in-chief) and civil society (from the academic, legal and voluntary sectors), which speaks out on journalistic ethics, deals with specific cases and provides information about it. Like many other press councils in Europe, the CDJ is both a professional and independent body, organised and financed by the news media and journalists of French- and German-speaking Belgium.

The radio and television campaign, available in both French and German, produced by 87seconds and financed by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, will be broadcast by all member audiovisual media from April 8, 2024. It is a way for them to signal their commitment to information of ethical quality. This campaign follows the integration of the CDJ “brand” on the websites of all member media, covering virtually the entire French- and German-speaking Belgian media landscape. The final step in this process will soon be visible in the print media as well.

“Journalism is more than just producing and distributing content. It’s also checking your sources and protecting them. It’s going out back and forth into the field, cross-checking and comparing information. But mistakes are human… That’s why the CDJ ensures that journalistic ethics are respected: to guarantee information you can trust”.

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