Respect the code of conduct

Editorial from the Mirror Daily (Kyemon) dated 1st January 2017
Translated by Kyaw Myaing
The Media booklet which outlines the code of conduct and standards for media people which should be followed by all media people who live in Myanmar has been distributed on 3 May 2014. This booklet is based on paragraph 19, of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights which relates to a fundamental freedom such as “freedom of expression”. Thus it may be said that media people can have adequate rights.
This right is not only for “freedom of expression” but also relates to the rights and responsibilities of those who receive these rights. News media includes printed media and electronic media. Since the word “news media” covers a large territory and is deeply connected with the State and all aspects of society, it has even been designated as the Fourth Estate. Therefore media people will have adequate rights as well as the need accept responsibility and behave responsibly. During this time when democracy flourishes, media people have the duty to be precise, balanced, fair and respect for others. They need to preserve and abide by the highest level of professional ethics, standards and code of conduct.
We may say that in practice, there have been weaknesses in conducting in accordance with professional ethics, standards and code of conduct. That is why we have seen that there have been law suits, criminal cases and throwing blame and condemnations at each other.
If we look at how much the media people have observed professional ethics, standards and code of conduct, we have seen that there have been daily acts of non-observance of the said standards and code of conduct, in the area of social media which forms part of electronic media, rather than in the area of printed media.
Online news media which has been called social media, is a social network which covers a larger territory than printed media. We can see that there is a total disregard for observation of codes of conduct, professional ethics or standards in this area. Although there are media agencies who take responsibility with regard to their work, we have also seen that there are those who share news on Face Book. We may or may not know who these people are. Because of news and pictures shared by people who may euphemistically be called “Citizens Journalists”, there have been good results, we have seen that there have been instances where we have observed bad results in cases where the dignity and reputation of individuals have been hurt and damaged. In the world of news media where there is freedom but also teeming with lot of complications, those who use these social networks should make sure that they are aware of the easy and simple rules which should be observed in this domain.
These relate to cases where the dignity and reputation of individuals are hurt and damaged. The “citizen journalist” who are citizens of the country, should either black out or smudge the face of the “suspect” or the person whose reputation and dignity has been hurt or damaged. Any person against whom action is being taken as a suspect should be considered to be innocent until this person has been convicted. The victim of the crime who has been killed or injured has suffered a tragic loss. It should be understood that this type of event can cause a deep trauma for the family and all those around such a person. Special care should be taken in cases where the story involves young children.
We therefore urge that stories should be shared with good intention and with due respect and observance of professional ethics, codes of conduct and standards.

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