CIME Ethicontest 2010

The winner of the first-ever CIME Ethicontest in 2010 was Mr. Abhirup Bhunia (India), whose essay was featured in our December 2010 newsletter. Read the winner essay.

A special mention goes to out three Ethicontest 2010 finalists (in no particular order): Gbenga Adeniji (Nigeria), Muhammad Rafiq (Pakistan) and Jasper Maposa (Zimbabwe).

CIME would like to sincerely thank all who contributed to make our first-ever CIME Ethicontest a great success!

The Contest

The first-ever CIME Ethicontest was launched in September 2010, as a means to incorporat e new journalists and voices into our ever-expanding global network of media professionals.  Journalists, writers, researchers, media students and others interested in media ethics were invited to share their viewpoints, experiences and ideas on the following topics:

 

  • - Is it acceptable for the media to tell the truth to the public when national security is at risk?
  • - How does a journalist decide if his/her reporting compromises government interests?
  • - How does the media avoid confrontation with the government in the wake of such a scenario?

The Ethicontest participants accordingly pointed out the dilemmas and constraints facing journalists today, vis-a-vis government interests and national security - declaring their stances on the issue and sharing their thoughts on how to strike the right balance.

In mid-November 2010, the CIME Ethicontest was concluded with great success, drawing submissions from participants spanning four continents - including Pakistan, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Ghana, St. Lucia, Russia, Mauritius, I raq, Nigeria, India and Morocco.  CIME staff carefully reviewed all essays before submitting the top four finalists to our CIME Ethicontest 2010 judge, acclaimed journalist and writer Geoffrey Nyarota, for the final decision.


A word from CIME Ethicontest 2010 judge, Geoffrey Nyarota

CIME Staff: After serving as the judge for our first-ever CIME Ethicontest, we would like to now pose the same essay question to you: How do you, as a journalist, strike the right balance between government interests, national security and freedom of speech in your work?

Nyarota: For a journalist to strike the right balance between government interests and national security on one hand, and freedom of speech and the right of the public to know, on the other, is a complex matter.  It is an issue, however, that journalists, and editors especially, are regularly required to address. Any experienced journalist or editor should be able to determine what constitutes national interest.  It should not be left to the government offic ial or the politician to define that national interest, often on an ad hoc basis, as they often do.

In determining national interest, the politician often seeks to promote self-interest, while concealing certain unpalatable or embarrassing information from public scrutiny. In the mind of the politician, national security and personal interest are often synonymous.

Once his or her professional role and credibility are accepted by all stake-holders , the journalist should be better placed to strike the right balance between issues of national security and the right of the public to know.

In borderline cases of what constitutes national interest, I have tended to err on the side of public interest, rather than government interest or the interests of other vested parties.

Of course, in a situation of dictatorship, such as in Zimbabwe, where corruption is rampant and media censorship common, this is easier said than done.  It is inevitable that the professional journalist seeking to test the limits of press freedom will always run on a collision course with authorities who seek to keep sensitive or embarrassing information away from the public domain.


A word from our Ethicontest participants:

We have collected some of the most well-phrased thoughts of some of our Ethicontest participants in order to provide an overview of some of the ideas and arguments contained in the various essays. Enjoy!


  • "A democracy without a functional media system is likened to a car without wheels"
  • - Jasper Maposa (Zimbabwe)

  • "There shall always be the one who wants to shout out something, and there shall always be someone wanting to silence another. In an honest and balanced media, both should have equal opportunity to be heard. That is a fundamental right of free speech enriching most constitutions"
  • -Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed (Egypt)

  • "An unbalanced story is akin to a keg of gunpowder. It is only a matter of time before it explodes and causes untold damages to the fabrics of society."
  • -Gbenga Adeniji (Nigeria)

  • "A newspaper, television station or radio, with high credibility and good reputation, has an excellent opportunity to spread and for success because, in addition to the moral motives that lead to the practice of ethical journalism, there are economic motives that cannot be neglected."
  • -Badr Touasli (Morocco)

  • "Trust here is key. Media and governments should come together and realize and recognize this as a problem. Nobody wants an irresponsible media, nor does anyone desire a high- handed government. This may not be possible in the near future, but when this realization is truly made, the only way forward would be government - media cooperation."
  • -Abdul Hadi Quazi (Pakistan)

 

 

Newsletter history

CIME Gallery

"I thought the panels were well chosen and ... the discussions were lively and interesting." – CIME Forum 2011 Participant

"I enjoyed the participation from two perspectives, the indigenous person and the urban mestiza." – CIME Forum 2010 Participant

"All of the topics covered satisfied my thirst for learning how I can use ethics to participate in consolidating democracy in my country." - CIME Forum 2009 participants