According to our legal system, only those who hold the professional license can pursue the journalist profession.
The professional journalist license is the journalist’s identification document and it certifies his/her professional name. It is an indispensable and sufficient qualification to pursue the journalist profession and the rights that the law grants.
The Journalist Statute and the Law 70/2008 dated April 15th have set the regulatory framework which approved the organization and the operation of the Comissão da Carteira Profissional de Jornalista (CCPJ). It has also regulated the accreditation system, the set of deontological duties and incompatibilities regarding the journalist profession. Therefore, the CCPJ is an independent public law body whose action is not presently limited to granting and revoking the professional license. In fact, the CCPJ is empowered with a regulatory function by means of disciplinary competences in ethical and deontological issues, while having actual investigation and sanctioning powers.
This function is justifiable since the journalistic activity is a structural part of democracy, hence the profession being conferred with a constitutional dignity via the inclusion of the body of journalists’ and freedom of the press rights and guarantees in the Constitution. As a result, the journalistic information is only able to serve democracy, as it is supposed in that constitutional context, if it serves the citizen, if it is real, clear and if it respects the deontological norms. Moreover, it can only be real if it is free and independent, as well as it can only be clear if it is completely unbiased.
Journalism must keep its values even when faced with new communication phenomena that can cause, on purpose or not, fallacious concepts such as “citizen journalism” or “civic journalism”, resulting from involvement in social media, blogs or sites. It would be more appropriate to name these concepts as “active citizenship”. Even if that involvement does represent a right to participate in the public life, it must never be considered a journalistic action. Due to today’s scattering of information, citizens should be aware that only the information revealed by journalists is able to guarantee credibility and contextualizing, both bedrock values of the profession.
As the only regulator body of the journalistic activity, it is the CCPJ (whose nine-member permanent Plenary is composed by eight journalists) responsibility to ensure the fulfillment of journalists’ ethical and deontological duties, as well as to dignify the profession.
Henrique Pires Teixeira