Code of ethics binds journalists
ISLAMABAD, March 05, 2006: Ethics of the profession of journalism were reviewed at a discussion session at the Scientists Club here on Saturday. A senior editor told the audience that society considered media as the watchdog of its morals and its scrutiny kept the journalists on guard.
Â“We are constantly urged to uphold the moral values of the society. The fact is that the obligation is ingrained in the profession and written in the code of ethics for journalists,” he said.
Formulated jointly by the government and the media, the code of ethics mandated mediapersons to pay full regard to morality, avoid plagiarism, slander and libelous as well as unverified materials, he said.
As such journalists were expected “to write only the truth, and nothing but the truth”.
Questioned about the ‘freedom of expression’ claimed by the publishers of the blasphemous cartoons in Europe, the editor said the publishers were liable to punishment under the laws in force in European countries which prohibit ridiculing any dogma or religion.
“The West has been violating its own codes in the name of freedom of expression,” said the editor.
Since Pakistani journalists had learned the ethics of their profession from the West, change in moral values and consequent ‘bad practices’ there might have been transferred here too, he said.
Some laxity seen here in the application of ethics code might be corrected under the auspices of Press Council. However, there was a wrangle whether the government or newspaper owners should fund the council, according to the editor.
In many countries the Press Council is supposed to be a forum of dialogue between the government and the press, and is set up by newspaper management. In Pakistan the owners wanted the government to finance the Press Council, he said.
Associated Press of PakistanÂ’s news director Liaqat Ali Toor, who attended the forum as discussant, was skeptic whether a section of the media adhered to the press code.
He said the code had not been implemented and the situation was impacting on the life of the people. As an example he cited the scam caused by the misleading and false advertisements offering residential plots which led gullible people to invest – and lose – nearly Rs4 billion.
A lady present at the meeting wanted to know why journalists kept on claiming privileges. She was told journalists were subject to the laws of the land and enjoyed absolutely no privileges.