'Primary Purpose Of Journalism Is To Inform'
August 30, 2007

By John Ryley, Head of Sky News

Last weekend, I took part in a session at the Edinburgh TV Festival which examined journalists’ responses to a fictional scenario in which a soldier was taken hostage and the police sought to impose a news blackout.

In responding to the fictional scenario, I set out to encourage the belief that, in a democracy, journalists should exercise editorial independence and not automatically obey instructions from those in authority. Equally, it was important to highlight that we operate in a communications world where TV news no longer has a monopoly on the flow of information.

There has been criticism of my decision during the fictional scenario to show live pictures of the attempt to liberate the hostage. In response, I would say that the primary purpose of journalism is to inform, albeit with appropriate sensitivity and restraint in any real situation. Such editorial decisions are always difficult judgements involving a balance of moral and journalistic imperatives. Those are things that we take very seriously at Sky News, and it is healthy that these issues should be debated.

Much of the criticism came from the BBC. It's worth noting that the BBC’s decisions in the fictional scenario would have ended in the very same outcome as mine: the death of the hostage. Their time delay - a device also available to Sky - would not have prevented the hostage takers from watching the near-live images. This point was conceded by Peter Horrocks, Head of BBC TV News, in a private conversation with a Sky colleague.

The risks associated with broadcasting images of extreme violence were amply illustrated following the bombing of the London Underground in July 2005. On that occasion, it was the BBC who admitted to OFCOM that they had made a mistake when they rushed to air video of a man apparently close to death while receiving heart massage. All broadcasters can learn lessons from such incidents.

Written by Sky News, August 30, 2007



MC&D launches a daily English and Khmer language newspaper in Cambodia

Media Consulting and Development (MC&D) has the pleasure to announce the launching of a new daily English and Khmer language newspaper: The Mekong Times, commencing publication on Wednesday, February 6.

The Mekong Times will publish five days a week, and will initially be printed at 5,000 copies.
The Mekong Times will cover all economic, political and development-related events in Cambodia - as well as offering a comprehensive selection of stories on these topics from Asean, Asia and the rest of the world.

With our new daily newspaper The Mekong Times, MC&D hopes to bring more information on Cambodia to decision-makers and those interested in knowing what is happening in Cambodia on a daily basis.

The Mekong Times will benefit from key elements including experience, professionalism and independence.

The team working for The Mekong Times has extended experience in journalism. Some of its foreign journalists have more than 15 years’ experience in Cambodia, working for leading publications. Its Cambodian reporters have worked in foreign publications after being trained to international standards here and abroad.

Based on its four-year experience of monitoring the press and publishing specialized information for business, politics and development professionals in Cambodia and abroad, MC&D is reaffirming its ambition – to publish useful and non-partisan news. MC&D believes that our independence from political parties, business interests and governments in Cambodia or abroad and from any international influence is essential to the success of our company and projects.

MC&D is a foreign-owned private company, launched in 2003.
MC&D has been well-known by the public for publishing Somne Thmey (a weekly Khmer-language newspaper) and Development Weekly (an English-language weekly newspaper), that are now being combined to form The Mekong Times.

I agree with Madnurse.Censorship of the BNP encouraged me to take a look at their website and their manifesto, and I was shocked to discover that I agreed with at least 75% of it!.If the media continue to give airtime to extremist Muslims etc. while blocking the BNP and other non PC groups then more people will retaliate and turn to the BNP.

'Primary Purpose Of Journalism Is To Inform' if thats true then why do so many journalists seem to give half truths and unresearched so called facts. Just this morning on Sky News What the Papers Say we had an Aussie Journo telling us that the Swastika was actually a Buddhist symbol of good luck. When actually the Buddhist symbol of Light (or the Sun) is similar to the Swasticka but rotates in an anti-clockwise direction. The Nazi party did hijack this symbol and corrupted it making it spin in a clockwise direction thereby symbolising Darkness. So if a Buddhist were to show a true for a better word Swastika in Germany he would not be arrested and it would not be offensive. These little slips are important because half facts like these are a corruption of history. Come on Sky News if you are going to rely on our colonial brothers for information for gods sake check it out before making yourself look stupid. As I sit here writing this I am looking at a statuette of Buddha bearing the Symbol of Light so I at least do know what I am talking about.

Journalism has been in a bad state for 50 years. It may have been bad before then but we did not know. Scoop based on Bill Deedes comes to mind, although I always enjoyed reading his reports.

It is in a bad state now because people are in a position to find things out for themselves.

The first time I went to Florida in the 1980s I was half expecting the bedroom door to burst open and the room to be sprayed with machine gun bullets.

When I told a friend where I had been his mind was obsessed with images he had gleaned from true crime stories.

America is a vast country it is impossible to generalise. We seem to have been fed images from a very narrow spectrum, and the same seems to apply to everywhere else.

I must say I watch documentaries, and they have really improved over the last 10 years, we are learning things now, and things are slotting into place instead of the very real sense of disbelief engendered in earlier documentaries.

It seems that the news media are more concerned with getting live pictures of any event at any cost with no regard for consequencies. How many soldiers and civillians have been put in real danger by journalists lack of restraint to get their stories broadcast.

Unfortunately, the negatve spin that is put on the news for shock appeal is all too common in modern journalism. Stories that are reported use the most sensationalist words possible to try and make the greatest impact possible. As viewers are desensitised to this, new words will have to be invented used to replace 'tragedy' 'massacre' and those frequently bandied about the modern news broadcasts. It is a disgraceful state of affairs, TV News Journalists should have higher standards than the gutter press when it comes to reporting the news. The medias obsession with global armageddon (cold war, nuclear obliteration, aids, global warming, terrorism etc etc etc) needs turning down to a more realstic level.

Thats a joke. More often you impose blackouts yourselves for political reasons. Maddy makes headlines everyday. In South Africa 5 kids per DAY go missing. Yet you never report that for fear of portraying blacks in a bad light. You are a bunch of liberal hypocrites.

Informing the public must be the primary role of journalists, however I feel the BBC in particular have began to distort the news by their apparent left wing bias. They also seem to lead the way in promoting the climate change agenda which recent figures show a majority in this country question.
What I find offensive is that, I as a license payer have to fund this biased organisation and they then use my money to affectively brainwash the population. I have noticed that Sky is starting to follow the left wing PC agenda themselves now and I worry that less PC views are not getting aired.
I read on Adam's blog some months ago that the National Union of Journalists will not handle any material that promotes or shows in a good light the BNP, whilst many of us disagree with many of this legal political party's policies, they should be able to voice them in the media. If they are as bad as mainstream politicians and the NUJ say they are, surely the British public will see through them. By censoring the BNP you are playing into their hands.

Notwithstanding the impartiality of Sky as well as the very difficult decisions it takes on a daily basis, I agree that news not only informs but in many a case prevents such fictional scenarios.
Lets take the Madeleine scenario, where only today it has been reported that Mr McCann is now suing the Portuguese Press for reporting the fact the police believe the worse case scenario insofar as to her disappearance.
(1) What an absolute waste of the public’s generosity in raising fund to find her and not for suing purposes.
(2) What proof if any does Mr McCann have?
(3) Why did he storm out of a TV interview when questioned about the blood?
Just a couple of questions that arise from factual events, no matter how tragic, whilst at the same time causing the public as a whole to shy away from such donations.
Insofar as to my culminations of the fictional scenario, I would naturally adopt a differing methodology, whilst utilising time delay mechanisms for the purpose of ensuring that Sky News remains the best and most interactive of news channels.
Then as for the icing on the cake, unlike the BBC, http://www.sky.com/news is “Free-Todd Terry”

It's a difficult balance between the interests of the individuals immediately affected and those of society, but where I cannot agree more is that any attempt to censor the media must be treated with an independent and objective attitude. Simply following the authorities on such matters is not what a free and democratic society should stand for.

The primary purpose of journalism is to inform so the heading says, But it should read
"The Primary Purpose of journalism is to inform truthfully,honestly, accurately and without bias"
However that in the 21st century is ratrely the case. journalists have a duty to report the facts as they happen, but all to often they are twisted or distorted to appease certain editorial influence, spin, sound bites, wild headlines and shock horror appear to be the order of the day, instead on honest well researched and accurate factual reporting.

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