An eleven-letter dirty word
The alliance of journalism education groups which arranged the WJEC that is being hosted by AMIC has adopted a “Declaration of Principles of Journalism Education”. It’s quite thought-provoking, but there’s BIG red-flag term in it:
It reads: “… journalism education provides the foundation for the effective and RESPONSIBLE practice of journalism” (my emphasis). It later elaborates that “to be a responsible journalist must involve an informed ethical commitment to the public.”
But in my part of the world, the word “responsible” – however explained, is unlikely to find its way into a media declaration. Go check the Windhoek Declaration for example. Not there.
For free-thinking people, “responsible” + media is a discredited linkage. It’s too often used by authoritarians to browbeat independent and critical journalism.
Speaking of which, contrary to the Declaration's invocation of "commitment to the public", don’t journalists (and j-educators) sometimes need to be independent and critical of the public as well? Sometimes the ethic has to be a commitment to "truth" - or to challenging public prejudices and conventional wisdoms.
Another problem in the Singapore declaration is the following fudge: “At the heart of journalism education is a BALANCE (my emphasis) of conceptual, philosophical and skills-based content.” What, pray, kind of balance? And what would constitute an imbalance?
There’s good stuff in the document, but hopefully it’s not set in stone.