Silver LiningThe need for media code of ethics [Archives:2005/848/Opinion]

June 6 2005

By Mohammed Hatem al-Qadhi
[email protected]

The latest scandalous article published by al-Bilad newspaper targeting our colleagues Hafiz al-Bukari and his wife Rahma Hujairah has really shown some of the serious problems the media community in Yemen is going through; the lack of a code of ethics that all journalists of their different political affiliation respect and abide by.

The profession of journalism should be protected from the harsh attack it is undergoing. Part of protecting media and its freedom is developing professionalism of journalists. If we do all work in a professional way, respecting the ethics of our job, then we can develop and flourish.

I feel after all this hustle and bustle with regards to the attack on Hafiz and Rahma that the situation of the media sector, both at the freedom and professional levels, should be reviewed and reconsidered. The profession is really in danger.

It was okay for us to see that the authorities are hassling journalists and trying to gag them by itself and in its own way which we all know and familiar with. But, using journalists and creating trash papers for the purpose of defaming or slandering this or that journalists as if nothing is happening but newspapers or journalists are fighting each other is really very dangerous and heralds grave consequences on the profession of journalism at large.

It is really disgusting to see journalists are hired to attack their colleagues. It is also disgusting to see the other parts who are considered to be the target fight back with the same language. I have been disappointed to see that some of the journalists or writers defending Rahma and Hafiz using similar language in painting and describing the writers of al-Bilad. This would definitely affect the credibility of the media which the government truly aims at.

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) as an organization that represents all journalists should wake up and live up to its responsibility in protecting the profession from this new virus hitting all of us. It should start serious work on a code of ethics which all journalists should abide by.

We all acknowledge that media can play an important role in the development process of any society. It can lead the torch of change. In fact, there is a considerable mutual consistency between democracy and media. That is, the role of media particularly in the democratizing countries is relatively significant.

This can not take place unless there is a high level of responsibility and professionalism. A first step to do that is to set up the code of ethics. This would constitute an ethically binding document towards it all journalists are committed. Once the journalists work within the ethics of the profession, media will become more credible and more influential in the society.