CMFR publishes ethics manual
AS A contribution to the efforts to further professionalize journalism practice in the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has released an ethics manual for journalists and media practitioners in the country last March.
Based on American journalism scholar Edmund Lambeth’s values approach to media ethics, The CMFR Ethics Manual: A values approach to news media ethics demonstrates the link between principle and practice, giving reason and meaning to both pres-cription and prohibition.
Written by CMFR executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus and deputy director Luis V. Teodoro, the manual reflects CMFR’s stand that ethical journalism cannot be divorced from competent journalism. The standards of competence and ethics are not in conflict but support each other. Ethics promotes all basic human values. The requirement of speed has to be balanced by the more important need for accuracy, for example:  ethical practice means journalists need to get it right and on time.
The manual is designed for those in practice—journalists who find themselves confronted by problematic situations during coverage and on the beat. Questionable practice has become the norm, unquestioned for its commonness.
A section of the manual examines how the conventions of news as developed by commercial media may sometimes get in the way of the ethical mandate. The manual also discusses special concerns such as conflict of interest, privacy, entrapment, and the use of hidden cameras. Guidelines in the coverage of special issues and concerns, among them war and conflict, disaster, terrorism, crime and hostage-taking, and women and children are also included.
The manual also intends to deepen the reader’s understanding of journalism and the press. Armed with that understanding, the public can evaluate and check the practice of the press, as well as demand press adherence to its established values. The quality of the press requires as much consumer vigilance as other professional services for it to develop and mature. The consumer of news cannot be vigilant without knowing the values, norms and issues of press conduct.

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