It’s not just in the newsroom where standards need to be applied. Ethics and self-regulation are equally important in the boardroom. Owners and managers of media are not exempt from practicing standards they expect of their journalists.
Indeed, it is vital to the creation of a responsible and free media to have a commitment to the values, mission and standards of journalism from the top of the media pyramid to its base.
There is a long-established connection between the quality of mass media and democracy and some recent research illustrates the importance of free media to building open and confident societies, but this is not guaranteed. Media organisations must themselves demonstrate high standards.
That is why the EJN has stressed the need for media owners to promote transparency and good governance inside media houses.
There is a widespread concern in many parts of the world that editors have become much less influential on the work of journalists than media owners. The moral leadership of managements – or lack of it – is a critical factor in shaping the behaviour of journalists.
Newsroom managers often set the moral tone of media work according to the preferences of owners whose conflicts of interests, whether cosy relations with politicians or business partners, often lead to open or covert interference in the newsroom. When this happens it inevitably damages the credibility of journalism.
The EJN promotes transparency in media ownership and the adoption of internal rules of good governance for media. We do so believing that media owners should respect the benchmarks for openness and moral conduct that their journalists apply to others in their daily reporting.
The creation of an Ethical Media Audit to help media companies establish their own internal self-reporting process has already been useful in helping media companies in Pakistan to develop more effective internal self-regulation.
Read more of the EJN’s What We Stand For.