Egypt's National Press Authority (NPA) is set to discuss with the CEOs and chief editors of national newspapers a draft outline on professional press coverage of the country's upcoming presidential election, which is set to begin nationwide on 26, 27 and 28 March.
"The step comes in light of the significance of the press and its impact on public opinion, as well as its role as a watchdog for the integrity and transparency of the electoral process," the NPA said, according to a report by Ahram Arabic website.
"Taking this into account, the NPA stresses the right of journalists to access all available information and data related to the electoral process throughout all of its phases," the NPA added.
The NPA also stressed the right of journalists to attend all meetings, conferences and events related to the elections process, and affirmed journalists' right to freedom of operation and expression without any predetermined restrictions and within existing laws and regulations.
The NPA also laid out journalists' "duties" in 15 main points, as follows:
- Journalists must respect the constitution and laws regulating the electoral process, which are issued by the National Electoral Commission.
- Journalists must ensure the credibility and accuracy of data, information and documents.
- Journalists must attribute data and information to its direct and named sources and avoid anonymous ones, and should report direct statements and points of view from sources without relying on information from social media that has not yet been verified.
- Journalists must be objective, neutral and balanced in their coverage by giving equal opportunities to presidential candidates to present their ideas and points of view.
- Journalists should seek accuracy in their utilization of photos and avoid any adjustments by manual or digital photo editing programs.
- Journalists should differentiate between facts, points of view, and commentaries, as well as between facts and assumptions in their reporting.
- Journalists should respect the human dignity of all candidates and voters.
- National newspapers should not publish any material that contains any form of defamation, insult or slandering to any of the candidates.
- National newspapers should not publish any election data, except those issued by the NEA.
- Journalists should respect the right of sources and the public to respond and offer corrections.
- National Newspapers should not discuss the personal life of any candidate or his family.
- In the case that a press institution accepts publishing advertisements for a certain candidate, it should be accepted from all candidates on an equal level and not on a discriminatory basis.
- Journalists should avoid the usage of sensational or hateful descriptions, or those that incite religious, ethnic, geographical or political discrimination.
- Journalists should indicate the source of any cited opinion poll, as well as its date of conduction, sample size, margin of error and financing institution.
- Journalists should respect publishing regulations during the election silence period.
The final coverage outline is set to be approved after discussion with national newspapers CEO's and chief editors.