An article in L’express this morning announces two developments in the local mediascape related to the debate surrounding the Media Commission Bill:
(1) It would seem that an association of press editors & directors is about to be formed, upon an initiative of Lindsay Riviere (director of Business Publications).
(2) La Sentinelle is also finalising a code of ethics to be approved and adopted by all its journalists. Subsequently, a Complaints Committee for the group will be formed to receive and evaluate complaints against its publications, based upon the code of ethics.
These are indeed positive developments for the local press. However, here are some points to ponder:
(1) Will the journalists’ association and the association of directors & editors collaborate? I think it is essential that some bridge be established between the two. Otherwise, we might see some futile feuds (because of divergence of interests) that may be counter-productive to the main objective sought. This does not necessarily mean a merging of the associations, rather avenues for fruitful collaboration and ensuring democratic progress.
(2) Who will form part of the La Sentinelle Complaints Committee? Care should be taken that it does not turn out into a committee to punish journalists only, rather that steps are taken to identify the source of the problem, and ensure no similar errors are made (e.g. provide training to journalists in identifying & evaluationg sources, etc.)
To this effect, I am currently reading an interesting book which I think all journalists should read:
The Universal Journalist by David Randall.
A very insightful read that not only provides meaningful and practical advice but is also packed with concrete real-life situation examples. It does not provide steadfast rules like do’s and don’ts. It just provides sensible advice that has got so much value for ethical journalism. As I feel it, ethics is not just an additional skill that you have to acquire apart from knowing how to source your news, write lead paras or conduct interviews. It’s a way of life….