Wenceslaus Anthony –
Journalism is a profession that aims to satisfy the needs of the public, especially those seeking information.
However, the call of the Journalist is to provide true information. This means the Journalist should be objective.
Can human beings be objective?
It is a very difficult proposition.
However, the journalist should be fair in reporting. This calls for integrity; and what does this fairness mean?
Some aspects of what it means to be fair may be clearly understood by a Journalist.
It means that the facts must be straight, not quoting out of context and above all, presenting information that are as accurately as they possibly could be.
However, we know that what is fair and what is not fair often may be different according to situations and circumstances.
Crime reporting is a profession and requires years of training, a ‘nose’ for news, ability to discover facts and ability to report them without prejudice. There are times and occasions when someone famous could be involved – perhaps a prominent businessperson or a celebrity. It is on these occasions that journalists should demonstrate their professional calibre and raise above personal considerations.
In countries like New Zealand, many persons facing criminal charges are granted temporary or permanent name suppression by law courts. Journalists are obliged to follow the order and refrain from not only naming the accused directly but also refrain from making any suggestion that would reveal the identity of the person.
But there are many cases in which there is no name suppression granted by a court of law. In such cases, is it for a news organisation to conceal the name of the accused for alleged wrongdoing?
Much would depend on the situation.
Information technology has revolutionised gathering and dissemination of information. Speed has become extremely important, challenging journalists to report events and developments without compromising accuracy and integrity.
People not only have the right to know but also the right to accurate information.
With the advent of smart telephones, and the proliferation of the social media such as Facebook, anyone can be a reporter- as someone said, ‘click, paste, send, and the world will know and react.’
The proliferation of smartphone technology has had its worst impact on the media, more specifically, the newspaper industry. Circulation of almost all daily newspapers (except perhaps in India) is down to all-time low levels, impacting on advertising and therefore dwindling revenues. Closure, acquisition and mergers have become common and economic pressures are affecting the ability of newspapers to afford quality journalists and retain professional standards.
But one thing has not changed – public expectation.
People around the world appreciate credible journalists who, with their integrity and honesty, are the main source of information. Their analysis, interpretation and opinion are still in high esteem and followed with abiding interest.
Controversies are an integral part of journalism and issues are debated through columns of newspapers or over the radio waves and television channels.
In such cases, what position should a journalist of integrity take? Can they voice their own opinions or reflect those of people?
Such questions are often asked but it is important that a journalist not only maintains a balance but also remains fair.
The question that comes to our mind is, ‘Do newspapers exist to provide honest news coverage, analysis, and commentary or take sides with the rich and the powerful?
Imagine a newspaper that always backed the Ruling Party, the government or vested interests? Where is the credibility of this newspaper to provide honest, accurate coverage, along with responsible criticism on its opinion to the society?
Responsible journalism demands journalists to maintain high standards of integrity and does not permit them to accept any form of monetary benefit personally.
It is also important that journalists should have the courage to own mistakes and have them corrected as soon as possible. Such corrections must be done prominently to attract the attention of the readers. A credible journalist will treat the readers with the intelligence and respect they deserve.
It is important to be aware that the changes now rocking journalism will continue.
Therefore, a credible media organisation must invest in the professional development and skills of its journalists to remain relevant and progressive.
Journalists must continuously strive for the highest standards of quality and engage in issues and events to inform readers.
I take this opportunity to congratulate Indian Newslink on its 17th Anniversary.
I am privileged to be associated with this newspaper as a writer, well-wisher and as the Chairman of the Indian Newslink Community Fund.
I am confident that Indian Newslink will continue to add value to all its stakeholders and we are thankful to the patronage of organisations and individuals.
Wenceslaus Anthony is a prominent businessperson, community leader and an engaging conversationalist. He is a former Chairman of the India New Zealand Business Council and currently its Head of Government Relations. He is the Chairman & Managing Director of WAML Limited, which has businesses, offices and associates in New Zealand, Australia, India, Sri Lanka and the Middle East.