With elections in June, journalists want fair reporting
The National Union of Journalists plans to ask all members to take a pledge on fair reporting in line with one of the union’s objectives, to practise ethical journalism.
NUJ general secretary V Anbalagan said the executive council had unanimously agreed on this, and an extraordinary delegates conference will be held in late February or early March to debate the issue further.
Anba said the 13th general election was expected to be held around June.
The NUJ emphasis on ethical journalism follows from a seminar at UCSI University on Jan 12 at which Malaysian journalists were castigated for lazy journalism and transcription journalism, merely recording and recounting what others said.
Political bias during election periods was held to be a black mark on Malaysian journalism.
Anba had agreed at the forum that journalists’ fear of losing their jobs had held back efforts for greater press freedom and ethical journalism. » Ahead of polls, NUJ moots ‘fair reporting’ pledge (MalaysiaKini)
Are journos willing to stand up for themselves?
Bob Teoh, former editor of MySinchew, suggests that reporters practise self-restraint, not self-censorship, by refraining from unfair reporting such as tabloid sensationalism at the expense of other people’s right to privacy or in dirty politics, refusing to write anything that is blatantly unfair or unethical, or signing up for NUJ’s fair reporting pledge.
“This won’t necessarily lead to fair reporting overnight but journalists must start to learn how to say no,” he writes. “You can’t get sacked for saying no to unfair reporting. But you are not likely to be promoted to be an editor. That’s the price you have to pay for saying yes to fair reporting.”
Bob, once general secretary of the NUJ, also asks newspapers and other media to set up internal ethical frameworks for their own journalists, an internal council to handle complaints and provide space for right of reply, pointing to Bernama’s internal press council as an example. “So take your complaints to them first before going anywhere else.”
He also suggests that the NUJ negotiate with publishers to include its code of ethics and the fair reporting pledge into their collective agreements as a working condition, and introduce a “conscience clause” where a journalist can exercise the right to refuse to write anything against his or her conscience.
Journalists themselves must be willing to take the effort to be aware of their rights and to stand up for them, he said. But he also recognised that “NUJ members are not inclined to put their money where their mouths are”.
M’kini readers castigate editors and reporters
some comments at MalaysiaKini
Blogsmith: Nice words, great ambitions. However, even if sincere, how will the journalists’ reports get past the editors. Further, the Election Commission (EC) and other vital institutions are all compromised and lapdogs of Umno-BN.
Swkdayaks: The proof of real ethical and fair or unbiased reporting will be shown in the media reports themselves, not on what the NUJ promises to do. Our local journalists have no sense of being ethical and fair. If they really want to, it’s so simple to do – just report what both the BN and the Pakatan and civil society groups said or commented, ie, give equal coverage.
Up2U: NUJ, we trust you and your pledge but not the editors of the mainstream media, Utusan, The Star, etc.
Yusri: Mana ada (what) fair reporting? Why can’t NUJ take action against Utusan journalists like Awang Selamat for biased reporting? We have lost respect for all Malaysian reporters. Semua (all) one-sided only. Just look at number of unsold papers returned. People are not bothered reading Malaysian news.
Ferdtan: It’s time for the journalists to salvage the respect that had been lost. You have lost all credibility. The next thing you can do is to collectively negotiate with the owners and the bosses… to set up agreements and guidelines on how the reporting should be done. Don’t leave it to individual journalist’s pledge …It won’t work – it is all humbug, to say the least.
Kelantanese: Wishful thinking. Too bad, the majority of the journalists in Malaysia are cari makan type. All have no guts to compel their editors to have fair and true reporting.
Onyourtoes: Aren’t the codes of ethics of journalism supposed to ensure truthful and fair reporting and without fear and favour? So what is the point of pledging? Where is the source of biased and fraudulent reporting? Is it from the reporters themselves? Who owns the newspapers and radio and TV stations?
In fact, I have seen a mainstream newspaper pretend to act very fairly in order to gain the confidence and the trust of the readers, but only to spit venom a few weeks before the election to cause maximum damage to the opposition.
Tholu:Why the ‘fair reporting’ pledge? You are already doing a great job. I mean, have you ever reported on an accident that never happened? Have you not reported on cases of theft, rape and murders? It is you ‘journalists’ who give us accurate and unbiased reporting on incidents of fire and accidents [and natural disasters].
On political issues … worry no more. We have online news portals such as Malaysiakini, The Malaysian Insider and Free Malaysia Today together with conscientious and non-bigoted bloggers to take care of that.