Our Journalistic Stance
The Creed of The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Creed of The Yomiuri Shimbun is the basis of The Yomiuri Shimbun's journalistic stance. It is a promise the newspaper has made to its readers about the direction it intends to take in its reporting and in the expression of its views. In September 1946, shortly after the end of World War II, the creed was adopted with four main pledges, including to defend "truth, fairness and fraternity" and to "fight despotic thought on the Left and the Right." The Creed was revised for the first time in 53 years on Jan. 1, 2000, to include pledges to foster "freedom and accountability," promote "humanism" and contribute to the peace and prosperity of Japan and the world founded on "internationalism."
- The Creed of The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Yomiuri Shimbun pledges to:
Foster freedom and accountability.
Promote humanism based on individual dignity and basic human rights.
Contribute to the peace and prosperity of Japan and the world founded on internationalism.
Live up to expectations of our readership by way of impartial and truthful news reporting along with courageous and responsible advocacy for the public interest.
(January 1, 2000)
The Code of Conduct for the Editorial Staff
The Code of Conduct for the Editorial Staff of The Yomiuri Shimbun lays down the ethics and morals that should be upheld by the Yomiuri's editorial staff in their everyday reporting and information-gathering.
- The Code of Conduct for the Editorial Staff of The Yomiuri Shimbun
We in pursuit of the fulfillment of the ideals of news professionals―ideals that are stipulated in the Canon of Journalism of the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association and The Creed of The Yomiuri Shimbun―hereby lay down, this first year of the 21st century a code of conduct for our editorial staff to confirm anew the professional ethics by which the Yomiuri Shimbun staff must abide.
Newspapers will never earn public trust without accuracy and fairness in news gathering and reporting based on sound judgment.
All Yomiuri Shimbun reporters and other editorial staff members, on the basis of the awareness of the importance of media services and the freedom of speech and expression, as well as of the serious responsibilities that news professional bear regarding freedom, shall conform to a high standard of professional ethics in compliance with this code of conduct when engaging in news gathering and reporting.
- Article I:
The utmost respect to civil rights shall be paid in every phase of coverage and reporting so as not to unreasonably damage any individual's dignity or unduly infringe upon his or her right to privacy.
- Article II:
Pertinent judgment shall always be exercised to ensure that the method used to gather news shall not transgress the bounds of common sense widely accepted by the public. When covering accidents, disasters and criminal offenses, scrupulous care shall be taken to avoid offending victims and their families.
- Article III:
Taking photographs by intruding upon an individual's private life is prohibited. Furthermore, taking photographs by surreptitious means that could be construed as a violation of privacy shall also be prohibited, unless doing so serves the public good.
- Article IV:
Source confidentiality is an ethical touchstone for a news professional. One's sources shall under no circumstances be divulged if the source has not given his or her specific permission. Promises to respect off-the-record remarks are strictly binding.
- Article V:
News coverage and reporting shall not be influenced by forces outside The Yomiuri Shimbun. Professionals must not distort the facts, whether as propaganda or otherwise, for the benefit of any particular individual or organization.
- Article VI:
Information obtained for reporting purposes shall not be used for any purpose other than The Yomiuri Shimbun's reporting and related activities. In particular, leaking such information to secure profits through stock investments, property transactions or any other deal, is prohibited. Furthermore, writing a news story to serve the interests―financial or otherwise―of the writer, his or her acquaintances, or members of his or her family shall not be allowed.
- Article VII:
Receiving any kind of benefits in a way that may interfere with the impartiality of reporting shall be avoided. This applies not only to an individual or organization directly related to news-coverage activities but also to any others concerned.
- Article VIII:
When quoting from a book or other third-party publication, the source of the information shall be clearly given and proper procedures taken for making out the quotation. Using quotations verbatim―without permission from the source and without noting the quotation as such―is plagiarism, the most disreputable act a newspaper reporter can commit.
(Laid down on May 10, 2001)
Initiatives to Maintain Journalistic Credibility
The Yomiuri Shimbun is involved in a large variety of initiatives to maintain its reputation as a trusted and reliable news source.
Journalism Training Committee
The Yomiuri Shimbun's Journalism Training Committee, set up in the Editorial Bureau, provides continuous training for reporters at all levels of experience, from new recruits to veterans. The committee also conducts separate training for reporters covering topics such as trials and disasters.
The Journalism Training Committee was founded in April 2013 in response to rising public awareness of the need to protect personal information, as well as The Yomiuri Shimbun's misreporting regarding iPS cardiac muscle implants in 2012. Learners study information-gathering methods and other topics to better understand journalistic ethics as well as the role of reporting in society.
For example, young reporters go through a three-month training course after their recruitment, wherein they are given lectures and classes from a wide range of instructors, including experts from outside the company, on topics including the meaning of reporting and public expectations of newspapers. They also experience reporting in areas covered by the Political News Department and the City News Department to get a firsthand understanding of the work of their superiors on the front lines of the company. In this way, the company thoroughly reinforces the "backbone" of its new reporters before they begin reporting from regional news bureaus and other areas.
The Oversight Committee for Proper Reporting
The Oversight Committee for Proper Reporting was founded in December 2014 in the Editorial Bureau of The Yomiuri Shimbun, with a mind to making the paper a more accurate and trustworthy news source. The committee is composed of a number of veteran reporters who check the accuracy of important articles, such as investigative reports and scoops, from a third-party perspective before they are published. They inspect in detail the information gathered by on-the-ground reporters and supervising desks, in order to confirm the validity and sufficiency of the data that provides the backbone of the reports. Such initiatives are rarely seen in the world of Japanese newspapers.
The Oversight Committee for Proper Reporting was also at work behind the scenes providing painstaking fact-checking for The Yomiuri Shimbun's prizewinning November 2014 scoop article headlined "8 dead at Gunma University Hospital after laparoscopic surgery," which was honored by the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association in 2015.
The Ombudsmen Committee
The Ombudsmen Committee is an organization independent from the Editorial Bureau. It has the functions of advising the bureau on news coverage and editing in order to enhance the quality of The Yomiuri Shimbun. The committee is comprised primarily of journalists well experienced in news coverage and/or editing. While a day's newspaper is in production, articles and headlines are checked by the committee, and necessary advice is given to the Editorial Bureau, to make stories clearer and easier for readers to understand. Once the newspaper has been published, the committee reevaluates the entire product from different perspectives. "Is each story treated in line with its news value?" "Do articles provide the type of information our readers would want?" These are examples of the committee's analysis. The committee shares with the Editorial Bureau the essentials of reporting and editing that can be useful in the future. In addition, members of the committee who oversee the use of words give practical advice to the Editorial Bureau to make sure that accurate language is applied.
Panels for the Discussion of Reporting and Newspapers
The Ombudsmen Committee holds panel discussions to listen to the opinions of external experts. In these discussions, we ask for opinions and proposals on our reporting from three advisers nominated by the paper's own Ombudsmen Committee. Six retired Yomiuri Shimbun reporters also take part to voice their opinions.
The panels, held twice a year since April 2008, have so far discussed such timely topics as earthquake disasters, education and Islamic extremist terrorism. The Yomiuri Shimbun's leading minds and top editors participate to ensure these discussions enhance the accuracy and trustworthiness of The Yomiuri Shimbun's information. The contents of the panel meetings are featured each time in a morning edition of the paper.
The Yomiuri Shimbun set up a readers' center in April 2005. Since then, we have been dedicated to gathering the opinions of our readers regarding our daily publications. The center has a staff of 40 who deal with questions, opinions and offers of information from the public all year round. At the time of its founding, The Yomiuri Shimbun was the only national newspaper that had an organization of its kind.
The center speedily transmits valuable tips and important messages and requests to the appropriate departments within the company.