Sunday, November 3, 2013

Journalists And Carte Blanche

By Rabin Man Shakya

"The tabloid The News of the World, now defunct, hacked into Prince Harry's cell phone in 2005 to write an article about how he had sought help from his private secretary, a former member of the military, to prepare a term paper for officers' school at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the jury in Britain's phone hacking trial heard on Friday." This is an intro of a news story of the New York Times under the headline "Tabloid Hacked Prince's Phone, Jury Is Told" published on Nov 2, 2013.

According to another Associated Press story, former News of the World editors Rebeccah Brooks and Andy Coulson, both 45; Brook's husband Charles, and five former staff of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers are on trial in the first major criminal case spawned by the revelation in 2011 that employees of the tabloid eavesdropped on the voice mails of celebrities, politicians, top athletes and even crime victims.

Likewise, under the headline "China Newspaper Recants on Arrest", a Wall Street Journal news story dated Oct 28, 2013 said that a Chinese newspaper that had called for authorities to release one of its reporters issued a front-page apology after state TV showed him confessing to bribery charges.

The WSJ news story went on to say:"The reporter, Chen Yongzhen of the New Express newspaper, said he had accepted bribes to publish fabricated stories about one of China's largest construction-equipment makers."

These journalistic misconducts and misdeeds are just the tip of the ice berg. They are there in the Communist China, they are there are there in democratic Britain.  Even BBC, the omnipresent and ubiquitous broadcasting juggernaut, is not free from the stigma and misconduct of its journalists.

Revelations of this kind of news are on the rise although the majority of the journalists across the world are working hard to keep the integrity of the profession.

These kind of  'news' have raised questions about the deviation and degeneration of journalists which could be detrimental to the very name of the profession, referred to as the proud representatives of the Fourth Estate. Just because someone is a journalist does not mean that he or she has impunity. In this context, the old saying "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones" rings absolutely true.

Journalists should always remember the code of conduct written for them. Obviously, the name "journalist" does not give anybody carte blanche to write or to do whatever one likes to.

Yes, to be an honest and true journalist is a  matter of great respect and admiration. Journalists should believe in truthful write-ups. They should be unbiased and impartial in their stories. They can not get away with anything they do or write.

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