New code of ethics for journalists to combat fake news

Improved version: Fahmi (centre) at the launch of the new ‘Malaysian Code of Ethics for Journalists’ in Putrajaya. Also present was the Secretary-General of the Communications Ministry Datuk Mohamad Fauzi Md Isa (second from left). — Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: Eager to combat the spread of fake news and improve the quality of journalism in the country, the Communications Ministry has launched a new Malaysian Code of Ethics for Journalists.

This marks the first time the journalism ethics manual has been reviewed in 35 years since it was developed in 1989 by the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI).

Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said the newly-launched journalism ethics manual was an improvement over the previous version to keep up with the modern era of social media.

“This review is significant to not only keep up with the current state of media in the country but also as a source of reference when handing out Media Certification Cards (KPM) to journalists.

“This will hopefully lead to more responsible and effective journalism that will help to nourish prosperity and harmony among the people,” he said in his speech at the manual’s launch yesterday.

Fahmi said he hoped the new guidelines would not only assist media agencies to carry out their duties but also promote professionalism and integrity among them to become a source of trusted news and information for the people.

“In this era of fast Internet, fake news and slander spread overwhelmingly fast.

“But through this new code, we hope to expand the media’s role in fighting fake news to provide the people with the tools they need to be able to confidently verify posts and news they see on social media,” he added.

The manual outlines eight fundamental ethics that underscore the responsibilities and standards expected of journalists in the country.

These include being the voice of the plural society; being transparent and with integrity; fairness in conveying information; ensuring information validity and accuracy; being free from any conflict of personal interests; and protecting the privacy and confidentiality of sources.

Journalists are also required to have an understanding of the laws and policies relevant to their profession and to strive to continuously improve their journalistic skills.

The Information Department (JaPen), in a statement issued in conjunction with the launch of the code of ethics manual, said the guide would be the primary reference in its management of the KPM for media practitioners. “In line with the evolution of the media industry, the code of ethics has been updated and will serve as a guide for all JaPen KPM holders in carrying out their duties as they strive to build an informed society,” it read.

The new manual was developed by the ministry through JaPen following four discussion sessions with key stakeholders including the MPI and National Union of Journalists.

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