Self-regulation 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.

Chairing 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.

The 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.

Over 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 self-regulation.

Mr. 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.

Commonwealth 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.

Press 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.

Ms. 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.

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