Immediate Past General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom (UK), Jeremy Dear, says practising ethical journalism is essential in addressing issues without prejudice, which will redound to the interest of the public.
"Ethical journalism is right, not just because it acts in the public’s interest, but also because it is the way to build long term business success in an increasingly complex and competitive media world," he said.
Mr. Dear was speaking at the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) national journalism awards banquet, held at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on December 7. It was held under the theme: ‘Media for the Times…the Next 50 Years’.
The former General Secretary pointed out that the International Federation of Journalists has launched an Ethical Journalism Initiative, to restore values and mission to their profession. It aims to strengthen press freedom, reinforce quality journalism and consolidate editorial independence.
"The Ethical Journalism Initiative is a call from journalists and their unions and organisations to reinvigorate a positive ethic for the profession. It is also an invitation to managers, fellow workers, policy makers and the public at large to join the debate about the future of media and a vision for journalism," he argued.
Mr. Dear said even though unethical practices in the profession are evident and have tarnished aspects of the profession for years, media practitioners must remain true to the cause of their profession.
"The link between the conditions in which journalists work and their ethical stance is not absolute, but conditions play a significant part. If journalists feel insecure they are much less likely to challenge unethical editorial decisions; if they are very low paid, and journalism is for the most part low paid, then they become beholden to those who make loans or gifts or discounts or give gas money, and find it harder to develop the independence of mind on which ethical journalism depends," he pointed out.
He added that there can be no press freedom if journalists exist in conditions of corruption, poverty or fear.
Mr. Dear emphasised that journalism is a vital part of any democratic society, and that individuals who enter the profession do so, “because they want to make a difference, they want to play their part in holding power to account, to build and develop communities and nations."
He encouraged members of the media fraternity to work together to ensure the growth of the profession. “Journalism’s very ability to uphold its historic mission of holding power to account is under threat. Across the world, too many employers are turning their backs on quality journalism, corporate strategies become more about maximising short term profits through cutting cost or selling news to the highest bidder, than making long term investments in quality,” Mr. Dear said.
Kirk Wright from Television Jamaica (TVJ) was awarded the 2012 Journalist of the Year Award, while David Brown from CVM copped the Young Journalist of the Year Award.
Over 20 awards were presented to members of the media fraternity, recognising their contribution to the profession.
The dinner culminated the week of activities observing Journalism Week, which began on Sunday, December 2.