Ethics and Professionalism
Ethical and professional journalism is about excellence in reporting, consequently, it must embrace gender sensitive reporting that is empowering, fair and balanced. The basic principles of ethics and professionalism in the media sector can essentially be described by common elements which include the principles of fairness, accuracy, truthfulness and objectivity.
While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements which apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public.
Historically and currently, this subset of media ethics is widely known to journalists as their professional “code of ethics” and in recent years these are being developed for print, broadcasts and online news organisations.
This awareness of the continuing need for excellence in journalism in the SADC region. has resulted in self-regulation of media taking a pivotal role within the media industry. As a consequence of this, self-regulation media institutions have been established within the region. This is a remarkable achievement seeing that over a decade there were two functioning self-regulation institutions for the media within the SADC region. MISA chapters have played an instrumental role in the establishment of self-regulation media institutions in the various countries countries such as Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
In Namibia, the code of ethics that was initially developed was not adopted by all media institutions, until several years ago, when the country’s media practitioners agreed on a Code of Ethics in line with international standards the Editors Forum Network. Alongside this development, the Office of the Media Ombudsman was set up in 2009 which was then guided by the Namibian Media Code of Ethics.
In South Africa, there is a functioning and efficient Ombudsman Office that was established by the print media. There is also a voluntary Broadcasting Complaints Commission and the Broadcast Monitoring Complaints Commission; the latter is established through legislation. The MISA initiative to give annual awards to media as a form of promoting media standards and excellence has taken root and become a prominent feature in some of the eleven countries where MISA operates.