Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)
Exploring the role of a journalist in the diplomatic world: International Press Corps at SLMUN
In the midst of the intense debate and resolution-making at a typical Model United Nations (MUN) conference, the International Press Corps (IPC) gives a unique perspective into the world of diplomacy. Unlike the usual committees made up of delegates who represent countries, IPC comprises of a team of journalists who are each assigned a wellknown news agency.
IPC was first stimulated in Sri Lanka Model United Nations (SLMUN) 2008 and has since been a consistent committee throughout the years. SLMUN 2019 saw the biggest turnout of IPC delegates yet, with 46 journalists, spanning six excellent new agencies. SLMUN, being one of the very few MUN conferences in Sri Lanka stimulating IPC, will be entertaining six news agencies in its upcoming 13th session: BCC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The New York Times, Reuters and Fox News.
IPC delegates will be sent into one of the ten committees stimulated in the conference. They are required to not only report on the committee proceedings but also analyse the debate that takes place and submit a news article at the end of the day before the deadline. They are free to choose any news angle they wish given that it does not deviate from the mandate of their respective agency. They are also expected to verify the arguments made during the committee session, capture photographs to support their article and interview a particular delegate or Chair for a quote.
Additionally, they have the liberty to use mobile phones, laptops and Wi-fi throughout the conference to assist their writing. IPC delegates should be familiar with the mandate and writing style of their news agency as well as have a basic understanding of the topic of their allocated committee.
Be it within conference or out in the real world, being a journalist is an exciting yet challenging occupation. They are the people who put who undertake dangerous assignments and go into war zones and disaster areas in order to bring the news to the public.
They are the ones who decide from which point of view the story will be heard. Consequently, journalists have a huge responsibility in ensuring that the news they deliver to the public is timely and accurate. According to the Ethical Journalism Network, there are five core principles of ethical journalism one should follow when pursuing a career in news and media. As an IPC delegate at SLMUN, you also will be expected to abide by them. They are listed as follows:
Truth and accuracy
Reporting the correct facts is the fundamental principle of journalism. A journalist must always prioritise accuracy and verify each detail included in their report.
Journalists serve the public. Therefore, they must be independent voices and should not act on behalf of special interests.
Fairness and impartiality
While it is not mandatory to present every side of each story, the narrative must be balanced in order to give the correct context to the readers. Moreover, impartial reporting builds trust and confidence.
As the harbingers of news, journalists should be aware of the impact their words make on the public and how it may affect the lives of others. Be compassionate and tactful as the situation desires.
Like all humans, journalists make mistakes. When erred, journalists must hold themselves accountable and correct their errors as soon as possible.
Although IPC delegates carry an unconventional role in the MUN arena, the experience gained is unique and undoubtedly valuable. IPC provides a rare opportunity for those interested in pursuing a career in the journalism field as well as aspiring writers to explore the uncharted territory of article-writing and sharpen their writing skills.
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