“Ethical Codes for Media: Yes or No?”

A free, independent and responsible media is a direct reflection of societal traits and thus can act not only as a reality check but as a mentor and redeemer. With its initiative to move towards a Free, Independent and Responsible Media (FIRM), Individualland-Pakistan (IL-Pakistan) with the support of the Friedrich-Naumann-Stifting fur die Freiheit (FNF) held a Focus Group Discussion on the topic, “Ethical Code for Media: Yes or No?” at a local hotel today.
The moderator Mr. Shaukat Ali Ashraf from IL-Pakistan started the discussion with the thought that every profession must have a set of rules to follow to ensure the safety of themselves and others and so that one might not hurt other person unwillingly. These “code of ethics” are also to ensure that no one takes advantage of his/her position or profession in bad and unethical way
The participants while discussing presented the view point that there is no single, ruling definition of media ethics. Instead, the concept of media ethics exists in many forms acting as a blueprint from which media personnel can base their practices and their decisions. Ethics are not absolute rules. They are constantly evolving values. But, a media worker may be held professionally responsible for their actions if they are in conflict with their professions code of ethics. So although there is a need to develop a code of ethics for media but the code must keep the vibrant, hostile and politically stigmatized nature of a journalists work.
Participants further highlighted that reporters and media are expected to provide accurate and correct news and content through reliable sources. Incorrect content can create problems and misunderstandings. The participants lightly shared that today’s journalism can be related to the following saying “When a dog bites a man it is no news, but when a man bites a dog, it is news.”
Nowadays we frequently encounter media campaigns against civilian elected government on TV channels. There are so many pieces of [dis]information which are carefully designed to mould attitudes and public opinion against democracy. Media has become a very effective and powerful weapon through which undemocratic forces manipulate social attitude and behavior.
I presented my point of view on the topic and said: the media not to glorify banned militant organizations and should evolve consensus on war on tarror and try to support political process . It is also a fact that media is bent on promoting sensationalism, so it should create tolerance and avoid sensationalism. Breaking news can not be produced every hour. Also, the media channels must not make people fight with each other in their talk shows.
I also observed and suggested that a free media greatly help in strengthening democracy and democratic system by promoting participation of citizens in planning and decision making process of state, defending rule of law and encouraging human development and security. It is fact that there is lack of proper rules and regulations in the Pakistani media, so there fore we have witnessed personal biases and falsities in reportage of different incidents- this vacuum could be filled by a consensus new code of conduct[ethical codes], formed by all stakeholders.
Participants agreed that a media without a “code of ethics” will harm people, make media lose its credibility gradually and the role of watch-god will get weakened eventually. They stressed the needs for media to minimize harm at all levels to society, be accountable to public and a monitoring authority actively watches over the rights of media personal also.



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