True journalism requires editorial values and policies

Shivan Fazil

By Shivan Fazil:

Kurdish media are everywhere these days. There all sorts of media: Party media, government media, shadow media and free independent media. However, despite of their aims and objectives, there are few professional Kurdish media outlets. Professional media requires talented graduates from media institutes and schools, but so far, this is not the generally the case among the Kurdish media outlets. Professional media outlets value their editorial policies and values. Therefore, taking the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC’s) editorial values as a model, I would like to explain and highlight the importance of each value for the Kurdish media outlets.

Trust: It is fundamental for true and responsible journalism to obtain and maintain the trust of its readers, viewers and listeners. The audience often establishes that it is trusting towards a certain outlet over time but they can take that trust away in a matter of seconds. It is possible in seconds to lose the trust of your audience that you won over years. Therefore, it is crucial not to jeopardize that trust at any cost. Trust should be treated as the foundation of any media outlet: It requires media to be independent, impartial and honest. For any media outlet to get audience trust, it should be committed to achieve the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive to avoid knowingly and materially misleading its audience.

Truth and Accuracy: The audience has the right to know and to be told the truth and only the truth. Speculation, unknown sources or anonymous sources often mislead the audience. By misleading the audience, you run the risk of losing the trust of your audience that it took you time and fortune to obtain. Media outlets should seek to establish the truth of what has happened and should be committed to due accuracy in their output. Sometimes such accuracy requires more than getting facts right, but also weighing related facts and information to get at the whole truth when needed. The output must be well sourced, based on comprehensive evidence and presented in a clear and precise language. Media outlets should avoid unfounded speculation and strive to remain honest and open about the unknown.       

Impartiality and Diversity of Opinion: Neutrality has been and remains an important deal in true journalism. Impartiality should lie at the core of media outlets’ commitment to their audiences. They have to apply due impartiality to all their subject matters and reflect a breadth and diversity of opinion across their outputs as a whole, over an appropriate period, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly ignored or under-represented.

Media outlets should be impartial around-the-clock. Their duty is to publish facts across the spectrum by giving equal importance to various strands and components. They should be fair and open-minded when examining evidence and weighing material facts.

Editorial integrity and Independence: Achieving this requires media outlets to avoid various influences from outside and personal interests and political or commercial pressures in order to satisfy their audience. Any compromises could lead to a failure to remain independent and unbiased.

Serving the Public Interest: This is a crucial justification for any media outlet when it comes to deciding what to cover and what not to cover. Media outlets should always cover stories that are significant to the public interest and the general audience. Failure to do so will devastate the reputation of the media and eventually such outlets will be considered biased and dependent. When protests in Taksim square broke out, the Turkish media in general failed to cover the story. Therefore, protesters have accused the Turkish media of being a biased and pro-AKP or even pro-Erdogan.

Harm and Offence: Media outlets should reflect the world as it is for their audience, including realities of nature and human experience. However, they have to balance innovative and challenging content with remaining responsible and protecting the vulnerable from harm. Often local media fail to adhere to this basic tenet by showing too much violence and horror on their outputs. Incidents such as traffic accidents and acts of violence frequently feature on TV and other outputs. It has become a norm to air such content without considering the psychological effect on the audience. They have failed to remain sensitive about their output’s content.

Privacy: Kurdish media outlets often disclose too much personal information. They have a responsibility, and should respect privacy and not infringe it without a sound reason. They have to learn that private behavior, information, correspondence and conversation should not be disclosed unless there is a public interest that outweighs the expectation of privacy.

Accountability: Media outlets are accountable to their audiences when mistakes happen. Instead of trying to conceal the truth, they have to deal with mistakes in an open and fair manner. Instead of hiding mistakes, they should encourage a culture that learns from them.

Shivan Fazil Kurdi: MSc. Advanced Computer Networks, University of Derby, UK and BSc. Information Technology, University of Kurdistan-Hawler, Kurdistan. He is the author of ‘Cloud Computing Security’ book, and writes for the press when he has something to say and blogs reflections. 

Twitter:@ShivanFazil  Facebook: ShivanFazilSabr

Copyright © 2013

2 Responses to True journalism requires editorial values and policies
  1. bakir
    June 19, 2013 | 10:38

    Thanks Mr. Shavn For this article, I benefit a lot when I read. so I would translate for Kurdish language, Because I think it is very important for everybody specially for me.
    thanks again Mr. Shvan

  2. kuvan
    June 19, 2013 | 19:57

    Completely agreed that media outlets should reflect the events and experinces of world as it is for their audience, including realities of nature and human experience ,but the problem is if the media reflect the world as it is than it will expose the dirty secret bussiness of big greedy guys because they will lose the power cash,and business which is the main obstacle in the way of truth to prevail in this world.It has been so all along the history and iam optimistic that it will not change and will stay so for ever.

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