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Pakistan

May 20, 2019

Strong media is the backbone of a strong democracy

Pakistan

Mon, May 20, 2019

When the media shows the picture of a rape or murder victim it is breaking all the basic rules of journalism.

Just because the media platforms have changed it doesn’t mean the basic rules and ethics of journalism have also changed.

Whether a story is for print, broadcast or digital/social media, the basic ethics remain the same. Every story should be tested against five basic rules - truth and accuracy; independence; fairness and impartiality; humanity and accountability. If it doesn’t, then the journalist hasn’t done the job properly.

Every journalist knows the importance of these ethics, however due to the pressure of ratings and the breaking news phenomenon in Pakistani media, many seem to be overlooking these or discarding them altogether. Crude sensationalism seems to be the order of the day which has more selling power but which has no credibility or life.

The basic ethics of journalism are all important. But ‘humanity’ needs to be enforced since it is the worst hit in journalism in Pakistan. Time and again we see journalists being irresponsible with personal information while doing human stories. They seem to overlook that the content they share may have a dire impact on some people.

Adding to this the social media has opened up more issues with its reach and ability to make content viral in a short time. Large amount of data can become viral without going through the checks of verification. Privacy is disregarded as images and videos of victims (even minors), personal information is carelessly shared on different social media platforms.

Journalists should not contribute to this problem and should make it part of their duty to debunk misinformation and disinformation by providing facts from authentic sources.

They should try to avoid getting snagged by the excitement that sensationalism and viral content gives and shouldn’t let credibility, truth and accuracy become a victim.

Pakistan has produced some of the bravest journalists in the region. But journalists still need to keep pace with the changing world of media, journalists and editorial staff need to keep revisiting the basics of journalism ethics to ensure that the content provided to the consumer is of the highest quality and verified. Ensuring that the best content is being produced in the country.

There is no doubt that a strong and honest media is the backbone of a strong democracy.