Sunday, 4 March 2012

Journalists' code of ethics - not for "our" ABC.

Bill Leak
The code is detailed below. Senator Bob  Brown says that the Finkelstein report (FR) goes no further than this code. If that was so, why was there any need for the report and why are there draconian measures in the FR? 
Greens leader Bob Brown also welcomed the report and urged the government to take action to establish the proposed News Media Council to regulate news across all mediums before the end of the year. (link)
“I think we have an inadequate system of serving the public interest in truth,” he said. 
The FR is a 400 page report which calls for a Big Brother Super-Regulator to 'regulate' political speech and - among other things - impose new laws with the power to stop climate change realists from speaking up. (link
4.1   Most newspapers steadfastly maintain that there is no need to strengthen the means by which they are to be held publicly accountable for their performance. The accountability mechanisms that are in place are sufficient, they say.
Should the ABC be allowed to continue on its own way, outside the tent, pushing its own agenda on AGW? Oh, but wait! Although the ABC journalists have told their chairman that they want to push their own line (link) The Finkelstein report alleges " the ABC is perceived to be the least biased media organisation in Australia." (4.25 Bias). How should we treat an organisation pushing its own line.
  • Honest?  No
  • Fair?  No 
  • Respecting the rights of others?  No
Are they allowing - "personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine" their "accuracy, fairness or independence?"   Yes.     Do they have a conflict of interest?  Yes.    
Every time ABC Television (and often their commercial rivals) does a story on CO2 emissions (generally inaccurately called carbon emissions), they show a picture like this:
Is this an accurate depiction of colourless carbon dioxide? The code says that they show present pictures that are true and accurate.
 The code also says: "Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors."  Will there be an apology from the ABC for all the untrue and inaccurate depictions of colourless carbon dioxide?  Will the Finkelstein reporters correct the inaccurate description of the ABC? Perhaps we need the new body after all. But just for the ABC and biased preparers of independent reports to Parliament.   
AJA Code of Ethics Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities. MEAA members engaged in journalism commit themselves to
  • Honesty
  • Fairness
  • Independence
  • Respect for the rights of others
    1.  Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts.  Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis.  Do your utmost  to give a fair opportunity for reply.
    2.  Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
    3.  Aim to attribute information to its source.  Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the source’s motives and any alternative attributable source.  Where confidences are accepted,  respect them in all circumstances.
    4.  Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
    5.  Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism.  Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.  
    6.  Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
    7.  Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
    8.  Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material.  Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast.  Never exploit a person’s vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.
    9.  Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate.  Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.
    10.  Do not plagiarise.
    11.  Respect private grief and personal privacy.  Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.
    12.  Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.

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