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….
Avinash Meetoo says
I was reading some newspaper the other day (I don’t remember which one) and someone rightly wrote that journalists don’t invent things but rather fall into the trap of ill-intentioned people who make them believe (preuves fabriquées à l’appui) some crap story.
I had a discussion yesterday, with a director of La sentinnelle who told me that the goverment has placed a ban on using l’express for their supposedly mis behaviour. They have been severed from Goverment notices ad s. They are banned on Air Mauritius flights. The Air mauritius ban is costing them a lost of 1 million rupees of revenue per month.Is this the way?
I heard of this affair through the press. The figure is a bit astonishing though. A quick calculation shows that with Rs 1 million per month, that means Air Mauritius used to buy 2222 copies of L’express per day (Rs 15 per copy for 30 days). If that was really the case, surely this was an exaggeration!
In any case, I think as a corollary to all the debate surrounding the credibility of the media, complaining about not being able to rely on state-related funds (though Air Mauritius is supposed to be an independent company, dixit Minister Xavier Duval?), is not that healthy. This could otherwise be equated to relying on govt subsidies, a paradoxical situation for a press that claims its independence.