The Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR) was organized in 1989 as a non-stock non-profit foundation to support the difficult work of enhancing ethical and professional values in the Philippine press. The CMFR community includes journalists, academics, members of the business community, and civil society groups.
CMFR’s programs uphold press freedom, promote responsible journalism, and encourage journalistic excellence.
For more information about CMFR, please click here.
Veteran journalist Melinda Quintos de Jesus serves as the executive director of CMFR. She organized CMFR to address the problems confronting the press in a developing democracy. Now the publisher of CMFR’s publications the Philippine Journalism Review and PJR Reports, she has also developed training programs on media and the justice system, peace reporting, media and gender-based reporting, and other emerging issues in the news agenda.
For more information about Ms. De Jesus, please click here.
THE ASIA MEDIA FORUM
Asia Media Forum (AMF) is a network of journalists from across Asia to share insights on issues relating to media and their profession, as well as stories, information and opinions on democracy, development and human rights in the region. AMF was formed at an editors’ roundtable meeting at Koh Samui, Thailand on Oct 22-23, 2004.
In October 2006, the Core Group of AMF decided to make it a vibrant forum of Asian journalists. The AMF organised its first conference on “Media Mediation: Media, People and Governance” on Dec 17-19, 2006 in Bangkok. Over 100 senior journalists from Asia took part in the deliberations.
Actionaid has been providing strategic support to this initiative of journalists. IPS Asia- Pacific maintains the AMF website and Samarthan in Mumbai hosts AMF’s Networking and Outreach Fellow who coordinates activities of AMF.
The practice of journalism involves the use of power: the power to influence the way people look at themselves, their societies, and the world; the power to help shape the attitudes and values of others; and the power to help liberate men and women from the shackles of ignorance so they may exercise their sovereign human right to decide their destinies.
Whether they’re practicing their craft in a democratic society or in an authoritarian one, and whether that society is “developed” or “developing,” journalists are thus imbued with the capacity to keep things as they are or to change them. Along the way they also help make people what they are: informed or uninformed, enlightened or otherwise.
The value of journalism and journalists in democracies has been well-analyzed. What has not been often remarked is their role in societies in transition to democracy, as well as in societies that may be described as authoritarian.
A free press provides the sovereign citizens of a democratic society the information they need to make decisions on public issues, to demand transparency and honesty in governance, and to hold their elected officials to account. In democratizing societies, the information a free press provides is often the crucial factor that makes the transition possible. Authoritarian regimes correctly fear a free press and try to suppress it for these same reasons. But by providing citizens information vital to their concerns, a free press can also hasten the fall of dictatorships and the coming of democratic governance. Ethical and professional journalism does not only provide the information free citizens need; such a journalism can also provide the information that can set men and women free.
By no means are the distinctions among Asian societies based solely on these and other political differences. The uniqueness of their cultures, traditions, and histories also define the countries of this vast region. While the ethics of journalism has evolved enough to be in many ways universal in character and application (truth- telling, for example, is among journalism’s universally accepted ethical principles), there is at the same time a specificity to the circumstances in which they are practiced which complicate and affect the application of principles in decision-making. To what extent, for example, is trial by publicity avoidable in societies where the justice system is failing, and where only press exposure often makes the difference between wrong doers’ being brought to court or escaping prosecution?
Nevertheless, the responsibilities that come with the power of journalists to help shape and change the lives of millions can only be realized through ethical commitment and competent practice. It may well be unnecessary to separate the two. Competent journalism is not solely a matter of craft and skill. Collecting information, processing, writing and disseminating it are governed as well by ethical and professional standards such as accuracy, fairness and humaneness. Ethical journalism is not an add-on to competent journalism. It is at the very heart of competent practice.
To generate discussion on the many ethical issues that confront journalism in Asia—a region in turmoil and change as well as stability and progress—Eye on Ethics: Asia Media Forum is open to reports as well as opinions. It takes full advantage of the interactivity inherent in the Internet, as well as the real-time speed of communication that it makes possible across our vast region.
With the support of the Asia Media Forum, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) assumes responsibility for the maintenance of this online newsletter. CMFR will upload articles of common interest each month, but will keep the site open for your reports and comments on the most recent developments in journalism in your country and community that touch on those ethical issues and questions that often arise in the course of reporting, interpretation, and comment. Hopefully the wide audience that this newsletter should in time be able to develop will enable us all to learn from each other’s experiences, and to benefit from each other’s insights. Welcome to this learning and teaching experience.
CMFR deputy director Luis V. Teodoro is the editor of this site. Mr. Teodoro is the editor of CMFR’s monthly media-monitoring magazine PJR Reports and the Philippine Journalism Review, a refereed journal for academics and senior journalists. He also sits as member of the CMFR Board of Directors.
Mr. Teodoro is a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Mass Communication, where he was dean for two terms (1994-2000).