CHENNAI: Media, both print and visual, play a vital role in the world, giving accurate information to everyone. But now, living in a world of fast information through the internet, there is a significant rise in misinformation, which is where the role of the press in providing accurate and ethical journalism is more vital than ever before.
On the occasion of International World Press Freedom day on May 3, the US Consulate general, Chennai and Loyola College invited award winning reporter, and executive director of the International Press Institute, Alison Bethel McKenzie, to deliver a keynote address about Ethical journalism in a modern media environment and about the effects of social media.
The internet has fundamentally and irrevocably changed the nature and ethics of journalism. “We live in an extraordinarily important time. Our profession is under attack by all manner of institutions and individuals who don’t understand what we do, how we do it and why,” says Alison. In the US, journalists are threatened daily despite the laws protecting them. More increased violence against journalism.
She also brought to light the staggering statistics. In 2016, over 115 journalists worldwide were killed while doing their job, according to the International News Safety Institute. India ranks eighth with five journalists killed in 2016.
According to the International Federation of Journalists, many journalists are behind bars for doing their job. “We can’t allow journalists to be coerced, threatened or attacked for recording the essential truths of the world.”
But of course, this freedom should be used responsibly. In this digital era, journalists have to uphold their standards, as she quoted Mahatma Gandhi “The sole of aim of journalism should be service.” Media ethics and traditional codes of ethics are suitable to online platform. Anyone can publish online, in a race to be first or to remain popular, journalists cross ethical lines.
The event also had a panel discussion on the theme of ‘Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies’ moderated by Alexis Wolff, information officer, US Consulate, with editors of other local newspapers in the city, and the audience comprising of students and teachers of journalism. Issues of the power of advertising filtering into print media, and the role of the media, both print and visual, in the spread of false and misinformed information to the public were discussed. The discussion raised the question of whether journalists should inform or influence, the long-standing debate of objectivity or subjectivity in journalism, had most of the panellists leaning towards the former.