Ensuring Quality Journalism

Published On: March 25, 2023 07:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

In recent years, the rise of online media has brought about a new era in the field of journalism. With the proliferation of online portals, the way we consume news and information has drastically changed. However, as Press Council Nepal Chairman Balkrishna Basnet has pointed out, the growth in the number of online media outlets has not always been accompanied by a corresponding increase in quality or credibility. This presents a significant challenge for the media industry in Nepal, as trust is the foundation upon which journalism rests. It is a matter of serious concern as the media in general in Nepal has already come under serious public scrutiny over professionalism and ethical standards.

As Chairman Basnet has noted, one of the main problems is that people from backgrounds other than journalism are often responsible for the registration and operation of online media outlets. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that attention needs to be paid to ensuring that these operators and editors are sufficiently trained in the principles and practices of journalism. To address this issue, the Press Council Nepal has been conducting regular orientation classes for online operators and editors for the past year. At a recent orientation program, former president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Dr Suresh Acharya emphasized that maintaining credibility is the current challenge facing the journalism industry. He rightly noted that credibility can only be maintained by adhering to the journalists’ code of conduct. This is an important point that all journalists and media organizations should take to heart. It is not enough to simply report the news; journalists must also be committed to accuracy, fairness, and objectivity. The orientation classes of Press Council Nepal represent an important step towards improving the quality and reliability of media in general. It is heartening to learn that 671 online operators and editors have already taken these classes over the past year, and that more will continue to do so.

As public trust in the media in general continues to erode, a section of people including media professionals have even started suggesting the implementation of a license system for journalists to ensure that media outlets, including online media, adhere to principles of responsible journalism. However, this suggestion is problematic as any such provision may be misused to undermine people’s freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracy. In a democratic society, individuals have the right to express themselves freely. It is within the same spirit, journalists and media practitioners are expected to self-regulate themselves by adhering to the fundamental principles of journalism and code of conduct to make sure that this right is not infringed upon. This is the reason why autonomous institutions like the Press Council Nepal are established to self-regulate media in a democratic country. But the growing public scrutiny on media lately calls for all journalists and media practitioners to engage in self-reflection and develop innovative ideas and strategies to weed out unscrupulous operators and editors who prioritize sensationalism over responsible journalism. If the media fraternity decides to implement a licensing system, it should be designed carefully to avoid infringing on freedom of the press and stifling innovation and diversity in the media landscape. The emphasis should be on ensuring quality journalism that earns the trust of the public, rather than on imposing government regulations or restrictions on media freedom. Ultimately, a commitment to responsible journalism and adherence to ethical principles is the best way to ensure the credibility and integrity of the media.

It is equally important to note that ensuring quality journalism is not just the responsibility of media organizations and journalists alone; it is also the responsibility of readers and the broader public. In a world where "fake news" and disinformation abound, it is up to all of us to be critical consumers of news and information. We must hold journalists and media outlets accountable for their reporting, and we must seek out sources that are reliable, trustworthy, and committed to responsible journalism. Ultimately, the credibility of the media is essential to the health of our democracy and society as a whole. We all rely on journalists to provide us with accurate and unbiased information, to hold those in power accountable, and to shine a light on the issues that matter the most. In order to do this effectively, journalists and media organizations must be committed to the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. We commend the Press Council Nepal for its efforts to promote quality journalism and urge all media organizations to follow its lead in prioritizing credibility and reliability. We as one of the responsible media in the country are fully committed to uphold these principles. 

Leave A Comment