20th September 2012
By Alexandre Leclercq

Smile Please, It’s World Media Ethics Day in Pakistan

Aidan White

You may not be aware of it but today, September 21, is International Media Ethics Day. It’s not yet widely recognised, but the idea of a special day for a global focus on ethics and standards in journalism is a pioneering idea from the Centre of International Media Ethics, a member of the EJN.

The CIME has organised activities in a number of countries, including Pakistan where this week the EJN and media campaigners launched a call for urgent reforms, particularly to the government-controlled system of state broadcasting.

While CIME activists in Lahore were preparing for a celebration of solidarity with ethical journalists around the world, in Islamabad, the EJN-inspired Coalition for Ethical Journalism put the finishing touches to a detailed proposal — Citizen Media: A call for Transformation of Pakistan State Broadcasting.

This proposal, which also calls for a new vision of journalism across all media, is the latest in a year of activities, supported by the EJN, which has seen the creation of an unprecedented alliance of owners, journalists and media support groups across the country.

The Pakistan coalition has already outlined plans for reform of the country’s moribund press council and has met with all the country’s media leaders to encourage them to work together to confront a crisis of falling standards. During 2012 media have been embarrassed by a series of corruption scandals.

These efforts appear to be paying off. Owners of the country’s top media, including GEO TV and the Jang Group, the Express-Tribune and the Dawn Group – all of which have significant press and broadcast holdings – have agreed to an EJN proposal to meet with other media in November to draw up a code for reporting on the coming national elections.

It’s a major step forward and welcome news in a country where corruption and malpractice is a common feature of public affairs.

Although there has been some street violence led by Muslim extremists in recent days in the wake of the infamous anti-Islam YouTube video the pledges by media owners in Karachi, the celebrations in Lahore and the media agreements in Islamabad prove that it is not all bad news on the free expression front. Happy Media Ethics Day.

Photo Credit: amk713 ethics! (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)