Code of Conduct and Membership Responsibilities

27th February, 2013

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has a Code of Conduct and Membership Responsibilities that are set out in the NUJ Rule Book. Members are expected to work to help strengthen the NUJ in its work and to abide by these principles and practice.

The NUJ Code of Conduct sets out 12 points of journalism. Members of the NUJ are expected to abide by these professional principles. The NUJ believes a journalist has the right to refuse an assignment or be identified as the author of editorial that would break the letter or spirit of the code. The NUJ will fully support any journalist disciplined for asserting her or his right to act according to the code.


Under the Membership Responsibilities set out in the NUJ Rules, all members have rights and responsibilities. Members are expected to work to help strengthen the NUJ in its work and to abide by the following principles and practices.



The NUJ is a trade union founded on the principle that the pay and conditions of individuals at work are best improved by, collectively, improving the conditions of all. Because of this, members are expected:

(i) to treat other members of the union and union staff, with consideration and respect and not to take actions which threaten their livelihood or working conditions

(ii) to defend the interests of other members of the union in the same way as they would defend their own interests.


The NUJ has among its members both employees and self-employed members. Both groups share a common interest in promoting high standards of journalism and in defending security of work and the levels of pay offered in the industry. Members are expected:

(i) when commissioning from freelances, to try to ensure that payment rates offered are not lower than NUJ recommended minimum rates, that payment is made promptly after receipt of copy, and that freelance members are able to negotiate as appropriate for the retention of copyright and moral rights

(ii) when commissioning from freelances, to familiarise themselves with any current detailed advice issued by the NUJ

(ii) to cooperate with other members in order to improve rates of pay and strengthen the rights enjoyed generally by freelances in the industry Further, staff members are expected not to undertake freelance work outside their regular employment (‘moonlighting’) if this directly deprives a freelance or unemployed member of work. Freelance members are expected to support staff members taking industrial action by not undertaking work that would undermine the strength of that industrial action.

Staff reporters on regional newspapers may sell to other news organisations any stories that are generated exclusively by themselves and that have not been covered by freelances.


As a trade union, the NUJ seeks to strengthen the role of collective organisation and representation in the workplace. Because of this, members are not expected to accept employment on terms or conditions worse than those set out in any existing collective agreements applying to their place of work Members are expected to assist the work of the Mother or Father of Chapel (where a Chapel exists) and of other union officials, and to inform their M/FoC of their own terms and conditions of employment on request.


The NUJ is a democratic organisation, and its strength comes from the involvement and engagement of all its members. Because of this, members are expected:

(i). to take an active interest in the life of the union and to participate as much as possible in union meetings and events, including branch meetings and (where appropriate) chapel meetings

(ii) to consider taking on responsibilities and duties within the union

(iii) to use their vote in ballots and elections

(iv) to abide by the majority decisions of the union, as expressed in ballots and votes, including any decisions to undertake industrial action


By growing, the union becomes stronger and more able to defend its members’ interests.

Because of this, members are expected

(i) to encourage work colleagues who are eligible for membership to apply to join the NUJ.

(ii) to support those who are starting out in careers in journalism, especially trainees.


The diversity of the union’s membership is one of its strengths. Discrimination, on grounds of gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age or disability means that some members are more likely to suffer poorer conditions of employment and lower pay than others, irrespective of their skills and abilities. The NUJ is implacably opposed to discrimination and prejudice, not least because it divides rather than unites. Because of this, members are expected to seek to combat discrimination and bullying in the workplace. The NUJ does not regard prejudicial language or comments about people on the grounds of gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age or disability as acceptable behaviour among its members.

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