"When breaking news becomes BROKEN news"
AMIC session on 25 June on East and West perspectives on freedom, responsibility and regulation:
Javed Jabbar, Pakistan media activist, provocatively said that “responsibility” should be seen as conceptually prior to “freedom of expression”.
The reason? Because “responsibility” entails fairness, truth, accuracy, balance – and respect for others. This is not necessarily the case with freedom of expression.
He hastened to say that “responsibility” should not be used to restrict free speech, but to make it more humane. It was foundational.
On this basis, he critiqued live telecasts of volatile events in Pakistan. The phenomenon could be incendiary, and “breaking news could become broken news”. But he called for self-regulation, rather than governmental control.
Interesting points, but for me perhaps too one sided. Diametrically different would be the view that it is only through free-for-all free speech that “fairness, truth, accuracy and balance” emerge. In that view, these values are not prior to free speech, but consequential on it. But that’s also one-sided. The answer? A dialectic between “responsibility” and “freedom of expression”. Live telecasts? You could delay them - but not self-censor the footage forever. A balance of "responsibility" and unfettered information flow.
South African activist Jeannette Minnie responded to the whole issue by arguing that the comms explosion meant that audiences really had to be their own regulators. A pre-requisite for this was media literacy, a huge task that needed attention.