Me­dia Guide­lines for Re­port­ing on Women and Chil­dren En­dorsed

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Deki Lha­zom

Bhutan Me­dia Foun­da­tion (BMF) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Na­tional Com­mis­sion for women and Chil­dren en­dorsed first ever me­dia guide­line for re­port­ing on women and chil­dren last Thurs­day. The guide­line is for jour­nal­ists to con­sider few ethics while re­port­ing on women and chil­dren.

De­spite hav­ing ad­e­quate le­gal pro­tec­tion, women and chil­dren are sub­ject to in­hu­man cru­el­ties and they have to en­dure worst form of abuse. Vi­o­la­tions are of­ten news­wor­thy, reads the guide­line ra­tio­nale.

Is­sues re­lated to women and chil­dren are com­plex in na­ture. There­fore, it is looked at as im­por­tant that the me­dia and jour­nal­ists por­tray their cases in a man­ner that will ad­vo­cate for in­ter­ven­tions and in­crease aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing by caus­ing min­i­mal neg­a­tive im­pact on the par­ties con­cerned.

Me­dia cov­er­age on mat­ters re­lat­ing to women and chil­dren are known to have longterm con­se­quences on their over­all de­vel­op­ment (phys­i­cal, men­tal, psy­cho­log­i­cal, emo­tional, moral, so­cial, eco­nomic etc), life and dig­nity. There­fore, in­sen­si­tive re­port­ing on them will en­tail real risk of women and chil­dren fac­ing harm, stigma, dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion, and ret­ri­bu­tion.

The pri­vacy, dig­nity, phys­i­cal and emo­tional de­vel­op­ment of women and chil­dren are cru­cial and they need to be pre­served and pro­tected while re­port­ing and pub­lish­ing or broad­cast­ing of news and pro­grammes. How­ever, the guide­line states that a nu­mer­ous cases re­veal a fail­ure to por­tray gen­der is­sues fairly and ac­cu­rately, and few ini­tia­tives have been taken to de­velop eth­i­cal stan­dards and avoid un­fair and out-dated stereo­types.

The guide­line ac­cord­ing to BMF has been de­vel­oped to mit­i­gate sen­sa­tion­al­ism and stereo­typ­ing in re­port­ing, and to help jour­nal­ists deal with is­sues re­lated to women and chil­dren with sen­si­tiv­ity, ac­cu­racy and fairness. Fair gen­der por­trayal is an is­sue that mer­its pri­or­ity if the me­dia hopes to fully re­flect the role women plays in so­ci­ety. It is be­lieved that the guide­line will sup­ple­ment the state’s role and re­spon­si­bil­ity and strengthen the ex­ist­ing codes of ethics.

The guide­line ac­cord­ing to BMF Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Dawa Pen­jor is de­vel­oped with an ob­jec­tive of set­ting min­i­mum pa­ram­e­ters of re­spon­si­bil­ity for all forms of me­dia in re­la­tion to re­port­ing, broad­cast­ing, pub­li­ca­tion of news, pro­grammes, doc­u­men­taries etc. on and for women and chil­dren.

It pro­vides prac­ti­cal guidance for eth­i­cal re­port­ing when con­fronted with eth­i­cal dilem­mas of a com­plex and di­verse na­ture. It is also be­lieved to strengthen the role of me­dia as an im­por­tant tool to en­hance aware­ness on is­sues re­lated to the rights of women and chil­dren by caus­ing min­i­mal harm to the par­ties con­cerned. It is ex­pected to help in­crease the num­ber of pos­i­tive ar­ti­cles and sto­ries in the me­dia on women and chil­dren.

The guide­lines state that me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers shall, at all times, strive to be im­par­tial and avoid pub­licly as­so­ci­at­ing them­selves with par­ti­san state­ments or or­gan­i­sa­tions. With th­ese guide­lines me­dia houses shall in­crease pro­grammes on gen­der spe­cific top­ics and al­low more women and chil­dren to be in­volved in the pro­duc­tion of such pro­grammes.

Me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers shall recog­nise that women and chil­dren are not a ho­moge­nous group and there should be in­clu­sive cov­er­age of all women that goes be­yond dif­fer­ences of class, so­cial stand­ing or place of res­i­dence, states the guide­line.

It is also stated that the me­dia should re­port all is­sues as fully as pos­si­ble, but tak­ing care to bal­ance harm and dis­com- fort with al­ter­na­tive that max­imise the goal of truth telling. There­fore, me­dia houses shall re­frain from pub­lish­ing the iden­tity or de­tails of rape or sex­ual violence vic­tims that could lead to their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, pro­mot­ing pornog­ra­phy and violence against women and chil­dren and glam­or­is­ing violence against women and neg­a­tive gen­der por­trayal in ad­ver­tis­ing.

Me­dia houses shall pro­hibit use of sex­ist lan­guage in re­port­ing and when edit­ing and se­lect­ing facts, de­tails and graph­ics, me­dia shall not over sim­ply and re­port women and chil­dren is­sues out of con­text.

Usha Drukpa , a jour­nal­ist from The Jour­nal­ist said, this guide­line would really prove use­ful when re­port­ing on women and chil­dren. She added that she would also share this guide­line with her jour­nal­ist friends who are un­aware.

The guide­line is de­vel­oped by BMF in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Na­tional com­mis­sion for women and chil­dren.

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