Advice like a folk tale by editing room

2014-02-18

There are many people within the journalism sector as well as outside the journalism sector that main stream media needs reform and modernization. Journalists are supposed to appeal for social development andreveal and criticize wrong things but they missed the problems inside the house by judging only others. We can formulate the necessary reforms in this sector are first legal, second a self-regulation and third raising professional threshold. 

We would like to discuss about the self-regulation out of theses topics. The self-regulation is not new topic for us. What is the self-regulation or the Media Council /sometimes referred as committee/? One might obstinately misunderstand that it is about discussing the ethic mistakes of journalists inside the house. Anyone who graduated as a journalist fromuniversityknows that. There wasn’t anyone who said the Media Council is not necessary in last 20 years however there is an habit to get stuck when it comes to how and who creates this. The Media Council organization doesn’t exist in every country. When we look at the examples of the countries that the Media Council exists Mongolian journalism needs it where journalists don’t comply with minimal requirements of publishing news with ethics and providing sources. We should support this idea if we want journalism to be in accordance with ethic and regulation. However the main obstacle is journalism sector is scattered and disorganized like small tribes.It is a common sense that the Mongolian Journalist Union should unite journalists and plant this organization in Mongolian soil and environment. However journalists don’t have an attachment for the union neither the union has a capacity to unite the journalists.

            However some journalists considered that the council is necessary and started an initiative to prepare the foundation to establish the council and started working in an organizational form as a club. The club was established voluntarily and the Journalist Union, the Press Institute and the representatives of the editing departments of some main stream media are joined. By the way we wish to unite more journalists. First of all the club started working to disseminate correct view about the council, discuss about works of journalists as an example anddiscuss the rules of the councils of other countries. If we can support and flourish this good initiation the reputation of the journalist profession in the society will raise for sure. Journalists can get along with the current date in this globalizing society only if they are globalized themselves.

            Of course Mongolian journalists have ethiccode. However that is too general and like a manifest. When we review the ethic code of USA, Germany and other countries it is like a handout explaining to journalists how and what to publish. In particular, in the ethic code of the Professional Journalist Institution of USA stated that “Journalists should seek truth and report it” and expanded the statement as following.

·         Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.

·         Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond and express his opinion

·         Identify sources whenever feasible.

·         Always question sources' motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promis made in exchange for information. Keep promises.

·         Make certain that headlines, news teases, and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites, and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

·         Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible.

·         Label montages and photo illustrations.

·         Avoid misleading reenactments or staged news events. If reenactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.

·         Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public.

·         Never plagiarize

·         Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing on those values on others.

·         Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography and sexual orientation.

·         Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

·         Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

·         Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or content.

·         Distinguish news from advertising, and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

       This is the explanation of the only one clause. They comply with 18 clauses with explanations. It is exactly the recommendation from our head of department made on the morning meeting when we first started working as a journalist. It is enough if we comply with this recommendation which is like a folk tale in every kitchen of the editing department came down generation to generation. We should acknowledge and formalize this. Code is the condition which human can live with others in harmony. It’s time for journalists to obey the code too. By the way the Media Council Mongolia is planning to analyze and discuss Code of ethics of the Professional Journalist Institute of USA and other countries every Tuesday. 

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