Friday, June 16, 2006

Deciphering the Journo Codes of Ethics

The Indonesian Press Council (Dewan Pers) organized a seminar to further spread the 2006 Journalism Codes of Ethics last Wednesday, 14 June 2006. The event was also used to discuss the importance of a standardized organization for journos, as well as to increase the authority of Dewan Pers.

This seminar was certainly not exclusively intended for members of the press, as I was just one of many PR practitioners in the audience that also saw corporate representatives actively participating.

Atmakusumah Astraadmadja from the Dr. Soetomo Press Club delivered a presentation on the design and implementation of the 2006 journalism code of ethics (KEJ 2006), replacing the previous Indonesian Journalists Code of Ethics (KEWI) that had been used since June 2000. This latest declaration was ratified by the Press Council, and agreed upon by 29 press clubs on March 14, 2006.

The KEJ 2006 is more comprehensive than the KEWI, as it now underlines the importance for Indonesian journalists to maintain balanced coverage, and the issue of media sensitivity, such as respecting news sources' traumatic experience especially when presenting explicit pictures, voices, and footages.

Since this post is not and must not be a complete transcription of the seminar, these are some key points that might be useful for PR practitioners like us, just to refresh our minds:

1) News articles must be balanced; each side or party related to the topic has equal opportunities to explain their positions on the issue.

2) Journalists must not have any hidden agenda, by which he or she intentionally writes the article to discredit any particular party.

3) Three deadly sins of journalists that can cost them their profession:

a. Plagiarism
b. Receiving bribe
c. Writing/producing news based on lie or false/fake information.

Next speaker at the stand was Bambang Harimurti, the Corporate Editor of Tempo magazine. Bambang provided practical information on what to do when we caught a journalist doing the three aforementioned points: Report directly to the Chief Editor of the publication, and then to the Press Council.

During the discussions, Bambang shared his experiences being a journalist. I think this is the most interesting part of the event. He delivered it very well, full of passions. Relaxed, yet informative and not boring :). He succeeded in making the participants awake. Well done!

The third speaker was Uni Zulfiani Lubis, a member of the Press Council. She delivered her presentation on "Etika Jurnalistik Televisi & Regulasi Penyiaran". Her working experience in the TV industry has brought an extensive knowledge and enabled her to share some of them to the audience. She also encouraged PR practitioners to be critical and responsive especially when handling clients in crisis situations.

In general, there was no new information that I got from this half-day seminar. All information was common sense and well known for those who worked in the industry. It would be better if the Press Council could wrap the seminar in a more creative way, so that it wouldn't look like one of those parliamentary meetings. Just a Nila thought..

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