Ethical values crucial in maintaining journalist’s credibility, says Prof. Murad

By Rafiqi Yusoff

KUALA LUMPUR, 26 January 2022: Ethical values in journalism is viewed as a cornerstone in maintaining a journalist’s credibility as they promote values for a news reporter to behave in accordance with ethical principles in upholding professional integrity, a webinar was told yesterday.

The view was shared by Prof. Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Murad Mohd Noor Merican, a professor of Social and Intellectual History, IIUM, who is also the President of Malaysian Journalism Teachers Society, and Vice President of Pacific Asia Communication Association.

He was delivering his message in the webinar organised jointly by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia titled ‘Ethics in the News’ as the keynote speaker.

Based on his own experience in the field, Ahmad Murad stated that one of the major problems in regard to the consciousness of journalism in Malaysia is the knowledge of the profession.

“When we talk about ethics in the aspect of journalism, there is a problem of confidence in the corpus of knowledge,” he said.

Ahmad Murad remarked that he discovered the problem along the way when he was teaching journalism for almost two decades.

He presented some of the core ethical values in the field of journalism which are applicable worldwide for a journalist to know and utilise: accuracy, factuality, impartiality, humanity, accountability, objectivity.

Ahmad Murad highlighted that accuracy is paramount in journalism in terms of what and whom a journalist is citing from, in order to maintain the accuracy of the statement and the story as it is part of intellectual expression.

He also believed that journalists should also be faithful to what they see, and how they describe the situation must be based on qualitative and quantitative factuality of the situation.

He mentioned that “facts in journalism are usually invented by the journalists”.

As journalists do not speak for themselves, therefore they have to be fair in what they do to make things balanced, wherein the journalists must not advocate any party simply to ensure impartiality in collecting and providing the source of data.

Ahmad Murad reckoned that these core ethical values are important features of good journalism as journalists must aspire to practice good journalism.

“People might have different opinions on journalism whereby some might perceive journalism solely as a profession. Or it is rather perceived as writing skills since anybody who can write plays the role of a journalist. But are they really the ones?” Ahmad Murad questioned.

In this context, he believed it is important to look into the pivotal body of knowledge which comprises both factuality and impartiality, which make journalism seen as the body of knowledge and the body of practice.

“If we are conscious of our profession, then we are able to know our set of ethical values as a journalist,” Ahmad Murad added.

However, he also put focus on the importance of considering the roles of journalism schools.

In regard to this, a journalist should have some qualifications such as educational background in journalism. Therefore, he reckoned that those who call themselves journalists must be accredited and licensed.

Although the problem in Malaysia is that no code of ethics is structured unlike in other countries, Ahmad Murad deemed that it is crucial to raise the consciousness concerning rules and regulations in journalism.

“We do not say that journalists must follow, but it is important to learn and know the code of ethics because not everyone can write news in regard to validity, factuality and accuracy – the aspects which a journalist has to look into and should be aware of,” he remarked.

Besides, another problem raised is in relation to the domain of truth in news writing which one has to cover in terms of factuality and accuracy. This is regardless of the news genre, whether it is soft or hard news, narrative news, or even news features that they are writing.

Ahmad Murad further addressed that as journalists are working against deadlines, it could be the reason why some of them are unable to take into account the factuality and accuracy in the news reported. 

“As news is highly viewed as a self-contained reality, hence it is important for us to quote directly from the speaker and be accurate. That is the truth when we are citing,” he further stated.

The webinar was held live on Tuesday (25 January) via Zoom Meeting and streamed on the Facebook page of the Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF).***

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