The contours of a free press
Award-winning U.S. journalist speaks on media ethics
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai hosted an event at Loyola-ICAM College of Engineering and Technology on Wednesday. The event was steered by award-winning reporter and media specialist from the United States Alison Bethel McKenzie.
During her keynote address, Ms. McKenzie delved into the issue of ethical journalism in today’s fast-moving media landscape. “We are blessed to live in extraordinarily interesting times when we as journalists have the capacity to share stories in new and compelling ways, as well as incredible tools that allow us to do so,” she said.
The address was followed by a panel discussion attended by senior journalists from the city who talked about the role of the media in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies. The speakers while agreeing on the fact that the internet had enhanced opportunities to access and share knowledge, examined the issue of whether traditional media ethics are suitable for the digital sphere.
“No freedom is free. To help people challenge assumptions and make informed decisions, the media needs to adhere to a regulatory framework,” argued Ms. McKenzie. “Only in this way can we harness its potential as a true catalyst of justice,” she added.
With fake news becoming an an entity difficult to ignore, another major concern raised by the panel was the importance of forging news consumers capable of discerning the difference between fact and fiction.
“There’s no way to stop the phenomenon,” argued V. Sudarshan, Senior Associate Editor, The Hindu. “To avoid getting a narrow picture, readers would better explore a variety of options and question the credibility of the content,” he said.
Ms. McKenzie echoed the statement, adding that quality journalism is part of the pathway to envisioning a fully democratic India. “Freedom of the press is not just freedom of the press, but it's beneficial to the community as a whole,” she added.
K. Vaidyanathan, editor of Dinamani, and Yagna Balaji, editor of DT Next, also spoke.
Words of wisdom: Alison Bethel McKenzie interacts with students at Loyola-ICAM College of Engineering and Technology.