only way for a free press, says media expert
A senior British media personality, Ian Beales, Secretary of the
Code Committee of the Press Complaints Commission of the United
Kingdom, told a workshop held in Colombo that the free press should
be an integral part of a democratic society, but journalists who
represent the free press should be mindful of responsibilities and
implications of being a member of that free press.
the main session of the workshop organised by the Press Complaints
Commission of Sri Lanka on press ethics and responsibility, Mr.
Beales dissected the Code of Practice set out by The Editors' Guild
of Sri Lanka and said self-regulation was the only way to maintain
a truly responsible free press.
workshop which was held at the Galadari Hotel last Friday, revolved
around educating working journalists about their rights and responsibilities
towards a free and socially responsible press in Sri Lanka.
one hundred journalists participated at the workshop to which Members
of Parliament, State Counsellors and judicial officers were also
invited. The theme of the workshop was on self-regulation as a mechanism
for addressing grievances of the public from aggressions by the
press, and the provisions of the Editors' Code of Ethics that governed
Beales said self-regulation that was introduced a few years ago
in Britain had worked, notwithstanding some deficiencies. Several
issues were resolved by way of mediation through the PCC in Britain
without having to be routed through courts in acrimonious litigation.
Press Union Executive Director Lindsay Ross, Foreign Ministry adviser
Renton de Alwis and Dr. Mahim Mendis, head, Department of Social
Studies, Open University also addressed the journalists.
Complaints Commission CEO Manique Mendis said the PCC was committed
to working closely with the media to ensure a free, fair and responsible
press. "Although not all print and electronic media outlets
have agreed to follow the Code of Practice, we are confident that
most will come to accept it in the near future," said Ms. Mendis.
Mendis said that the PCC of Sri Lanka began in October last year,
and over 190 communications had been received by it and over 90
percent of these complaints had been amicably resolved.