Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Towards responsible journalism: Code of practice, journalist oath and conscience clause

This paper draws on the codes of ethics of a wide range of countries to propose an ideal one for a newly constituted press regulatory body in the United Kingdom. It also suggests the adoption of a journalist oath and including a conscience clause in press journalists' contracts which would protect them from being coerced into doing clearly unethical work.



  1. Barker, Ian, and Evans, Lewis (2007) Review of the New Zealand Press Council, NZ, November. Available online at: www.presscouncil.org.nz/articles/press_council_review.pdf, accessed on 17 February 2014
  2. Bayefsky, Rachel (2013) Dignity, honour, and human rights: Kant's perspective, Political Theory, Vol. 4, No. 6 pp. 809-837
  3. BBC News (2011) News of the World to close amid hacking scandal, 7 July. Available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14070733
  4. Brown, Tina (2008) The Diana chronicles, New York, Anchor
  5. Cohen-Almagor, Raphael (2002) Responsibility and ethics in the Canadian media: Some basic concerns, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Vol. 17, No. 1 pp. 35-52
  6. Cohen-Almagor, Raphael (Winter 2002/2003) Privacy in two episodes: Princess Diana's death and Les Editions Vice-Versa Inc. v. Aubry, International Journal of Communication Law and Policy, Issue 7 pp. 1-24
  7. Cohen-Almagor, Raphael (2003) Thesis: Granting the Press Council more teeth, The Seventh Eye (Haa'yin Ha'shviit), Vol. 44 pp. 46-47 (Hebrew)
  8. Cohen-Almagor, Raphael (2005) Speech, media, and ethics: The limits of free expression, Houndmills and New York, Palgrave-Macmillan
  9. Cohen-Almagor, Raphael (2005a) The Israel Press Council, Israel Affairs, Vol. 11, No. 2 pp. 171-187
  10. Cohen-Almagor, Raphael (2006) The scope of tolerance: Studies on the costs of free expression and freedom of the press. London and New York, Routledge
  11. Cohen-Almagor, Raphael (2007) Press councils in Canada, Britain and Israel: Window dressing and lightning rods, State and Society, Vol. 6, No. 1 pp. 43-75 (Hebrew)
  12. Cohen-Almagor, Raphael (2014) After Leveson: Recommendations for instituting the Public and Press Council, The International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 19, No. 2 (April)
  13. Daily Mirror (2011) Milly Dowler phone hacking: David Cameron shocked by News of the World allegations, 5 July. Available online at http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/milly-dowler-phone-hacking-david-182626
  14. DeLong, Donnacha (2012) Leveson's support for the Conscience Clause is a significant gain, Ceasefire, December 2, http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/media-ethics-levesons-support-conscience-clause-significant-gain/
  15. Dietrichson, Paul (1968) What does Kant mean by 'Acting from Duty'?, in Robert Paul Wolff (ed.), Kant, London, Macmillan, pp. 314-330
  16. Dworkin, Ronald (1991) Liberty and pornography, The New York Review of Books, 15 August
  17. Dworkin, Ronald (1996) Freedom's law: The moral reading of the American Constitution, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press
  18. Dworkin, Ronald (2009) Foreword, in Ivan Hare and James Weinstein (eds.), Extreme speech and democracy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. v-ix.
  19. Dworkin, Ronald (2011) Justice for hedgehogs, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Belknap
  20. Edgecliffe-Johnson, Andrew, Ben Fenton and George Parker (2011) Murdoch to close News of the World, Financial Times, 7 July, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3874c3da-a8b1-11e0-b877-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl#axzz2r1AN7se9
  21. Himelboim, Itai, and Yehiel Limor (2006) Journalism and moonlighting: An international comparative study of 242 codes of ethics, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Vol. 21, No. 4 pp. 265-285
  22. Himelboim, Itai, and Yehiel Limor (2011) The societal role of journalism - an international comparative study of 242 codes of ethics, Mass Communication and Society, Vol. 14, No. 1 pp. 71-92
  23. Kant, Immanuel (1969 [1785]) Foundations of the metaphysics of morals, Indianapolis, IN, Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishers. Available online at http://www.redfuzzyjesus.com/files/kant-groundwork-for-the-metaphysics-of-morals.pdf
  24. Kasher, Asa (2005) Professional ethics and collective professional autonomy: A conceptual analysis, Ethical Perspectives, Vol. 12, No. 1 pp. 67-97
  25. Keeble, Richard (2001) Ethics for journalists. London, Routledge
  26. Leveson, The Right Honourable Lord Justice Brian (2012) An inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, London, Stationery Office, November
  27. Mill, John Stuart (1948) Utilitarianism, liberty, and representative government, London, J. M. Dent. Everyman's edition
  28. Mill, John Stuart (1971) Autobiography, Oxford, Oxford University Press
  29. Mill, John Stuart (1973) Dissertations and discussions, New York, Haskell House Publishers
  30. Miller, Dale E. (2010) J.S. Mill, Cambridge, Polity Press
  31. O'Rourke, K.C. (2001) John Stuart Mill and freedom of expression: The genesis of a theory, London and NY: Routledge
  32. Petley, Julian (2012) The Leveson Inquiry: Journalism ethics and press freedom, Journalism, Vol. 13, No. 4 pp. 529-538
  33. Schudson, Michael (2008) Why democracies need an unlovable press, Cambridge, Polity
  34. Stanyer, James (2013) Intimate politics, Cambridge, Polity
  35. Stainstreet, Michelle (no date) Second Witness Statement on behalf of the National Union of Journalists, In the Leveson Inquiry into the Press, http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/MS-Exhibit-11.pdf
  36. Steel, John (2012) Journalism and free speech, London, Routledge
  37. Urbinati, Nadia and Alex Zakaras (eds.) (2007) J.S. Mill's political thought: A bicentennial reassessment, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
  38. Williams, G.L. (1976) Mill's principle of liberty, Political Studies, Vol. 24, pp 132-140

Note on the contributor

Raphael Cohen-Almagor has been Professor and Chair in Politics; Founder and Director of the Middle East Study Group, University of Hull, since 2008. A human rights and peace activist; he has published extensively in the fields of political science, philosophy, law, media ethics and medical ethics. Among his many books are also two poetry books. He was Visiting Professor at UCLA (1999-2000), Johns Hopkins (2003-2004) and Fellow, the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars (2007-2008). In 2003-2007 he was the Founding Director of the Center for Democratic Studies, University of Haifa. His most recent books are The Scope of Tolerance (2006, 2007), The Democratic Catch (2007, Hebrew), his second poetry book Voyages (2007, Hebrew), and Public responsibility in Israel, co-edited with Ori Arbel-Ganz and Asa Kasher (2012, Hebrew). Twitter: @almagor35; web: http://www.hull.ac.uk/rca; blog: http://almagor.blogspot.com