Jour­nal­ism and its Code of Ethics

Bhutan Times - - Home - (An­jana Subba)

The Half-day Jour­nal­ist’s Fo­rum on Code of Ethics held on 22nd Septem­ber, 2014 took place in Jam­bayang Re­sort un­der the keen ob­ser­va­tion of the me­dia stake­holder and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the rel­e­vant me­dia de­vel­op­ment agen­cies and part­ners.

A meet­ing was held with the ob­jec­tive to re­view the for­mer code of ethics that was drafted in 2006 by Bhutan In­fo­comm and Me­dia Au­thor­ity (BICMA), as the code was found to be too gen­eral and print bias by se­nior jour­nal­ist and mem­bers of Jour­nal­ist As­so­ci­a­tion of Bhutan (JAB). But ac­cord­ing to the pre­sen­ta­tion made by Kin­ley Tsh­er­ing, the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of JAB, the main ob­jec­tive of the re­view was to get “self reg­u­la­tion” that is, giv­ing con­trol to me­dia agen­cies and part­ners di­rectly.

One of the par­tic­i­pants from Kuensel en­quired about which of codes of ethics to follow as they al­ready have their in­house code of con­ducts and the one that is be­ing for­mu­lated by JAB. . It was in­formed that y adding a clause to “scope of ap­pli­ca­tion” that states that “the code will act as a mother doc­u­ment to guide all me­dia houses with in­house code of con­ducts”, which also means that all houses are to abide by the Jour­nal­ist’s Code of Ethics ir­re­spec­tive of me­dia houses hold­ing their own code of ethics, in case of Kuensel, Bhutan Ob­servers and The Bhutanese, that al­ready holds cur­rent code of ethics of their own.

The main dif­fer­ences be­tween the two codes of ethics are that, the new code of ethics is sim­ple and com­pre­hen­sive as com­pared to BICMA’s code of ethics. The new code stands for pub­lic in­ter­est whereas for­mer code in­cludes na­tional in­ter­est only. Also, another dif­fer­ence is the obli­ga­tion for jour­nal­ists to re­veal their source of in­for­ma­tion un­der the court of jus­tice, which is com­pletely erased in the new code of ethics and it de­pends upon jour­nal­ist’s decision to re­veal the source or not.

The code of ethics cov­ered the top­ics such as, “re­spon­si­bil­ity” of the jour­nal­ist to be com­mit­ted to his / her work, pro­tec­tion of the “in­de­pen­dence” of jour­nal­ist from third party, “ac­cu­racy” of in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the jour­nal­ists, “ob­jec­tiv­ity” of the jour­nal­ist to cre­ate a sense of bal­ance, “hon­esty” in work of jour­nal­ism for pub­lic trust , “sources and con­fi­den­tial­ity” to be hon­ored by the jour­nal­ists and not to be taken lightly, “au­di­ence’s right” to be main­tained by the jour­nal­ists while per­form­ing their work, “pri­vacy” of an in­di­vid­ual to be re­spected by the jour­nal­ists, jour­nal­ists to act as “rep­re­sen­ta­tion” of the voice of so­ci­ety and avoid dis­crim­i­na­tion and “pla­gia­rism” in jour­nal­ism is un­ac­cept­able.

The new codes of Ethics not only in­clude the idea of JAB mem­bers but also the ar­gu­ments of the me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The group dis­cus­sion in the meet­ing brought out ideas and sug­ges­tions from the me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives in many as­pect of draft of code of ethics that was put for­ward by the JAB. The sug­ges­tion led to chang­ing of words in few sen­tences to chang­ing of whole sen­tences from the draft. The changes were not made by mere sug­ges­tions, but by strong op­po­si­tion and ex­pla­na­tions. In some cases even the vote was casted for the sug­ges­tions to be made into changes in the code of ethics. So, it can be said that the new code of ethics is made by the com­plete sweat, blood and idea of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the me­dia house and not any other third party.

One of the as­pects of the new code of ethics is, “com­plete re­moval of BICMA” from decision mak­ing po­si­tion of me­dia houses. But the new code of ethics still needs to be re­struc­tured in many sim­ple and com­pli­cated ways. There is a need for re­place­ment of words to com­plete re­moval of clauses in few places but in near fu­ture the rev­e­la­tion of code of ethics will be made, that will stand for pub­lic in­ter­est and is made by the group ef­fort of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the me­dia houses.

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