Bosnian Franciscan, Fra Drago Bojić, PhD, a publicist, and Catholic theologist and an “outlaw” journalist from the current Croatian nationalistic (read: chauvinistic) mainstream press in Bosnia and Herzegovina in his latest, extraordinaire book of essays, interviews and articles “Kingdom of God and Nationalism” (Publisher: tacno.net, BiH, 2018) writes in his book (page 53), “Talking within his memoirs about the project “world ethos”, Swiss catholic theologist Hans Küng concludes that many of the problems of the modern world comes out from the fact that economy have overtaken the predominance from the politics and politics over the ethics. It is important to have primate of the politics in front of the economy, says Küng, because politics must lay down and conduct the rules, and economy must abide to it. However, it is even more important priority of ethos in front of the economy and politics, because both, for the sake of man / woman humanity and general good must be juxtaposed to ethical measures of the humanity in which belongs man / woman untouchable dignity and his / her human right.”
At the same time, one of the most famous (if you ask 80% of media illiterate people who vote for nationalists and neo-liberalists he is not but for the other 20% of media literate people – as an EU Prize proves) freelance journalist and publicist from the neighbored country, Croatia, Boris Dežulović wrote (and said) recently that the future (paraphrased by S.H.) of media and information should be that the government will pay the media, if we would like to have a real democratic society. How is that?
Simply, as Dežulović stated, because the media should be the real democratic controller of the government and informer of the public about the work of the government and by doing that the government will be warned to fix the issues that are not good within its work. That is why, a real democratic government should pay the media for their work, Dežulović stated. Regardless, how good this is, it has to have scientific point of view which will support above mentioned. So, let’s rock’n’roll.
TWO WAY HIGHWAY
So, what is connecting those above two statements? Media literacy, of course. In the way that, finally, ethics will prevail and help us to establish anywhere in the world, for sure, democracy which will have responsible and hard-working government that will be there “for the people from the people” (and not just on the paper in within the said words).
Of course, how is the main question. The answer is so easy and visible:
- Policy of the politics is to create a development of the country and all the citizens within the country – not just few on power. To create that, we must have the knowledge what is wrong within the certain governmental policy. How we will find that out? Being properly informed about it. Media outside the government will have a full and free access to all information about government planned economical policy (including education, by all means).
- Media will not be informed through the spokespersons and not through Press releases, but representative of the Press will have regular bi-weekly meetings with the Prime-minister and the Government where the government will be open not just with the documents, but also with a answers to any disputable question journalists might have in regards of any Ministry and/or Minister work.
- Government (each Ministry) will have a social group on Facebook on which, as the proper tool for deliberative democracy, all the citizens can ask the questions and get, within the adequate time limit, proper answer on the questions. Of course, any inappropriate and obnoxious question will not be tolerated, and this will be controlled by the independent body outside of the government, elected by the legislative power – Parliament.
ETHICS ABOVE ALL
We can continue like this on and on, but the main issue is again, how will this be implemented. Through the ethics (as professor of Media Ethics at a EU University surely has a right to write about it) because the ethics is inseparable from journalism, because the practice of journalism is centred on a set of essentially ethical concepts: freedom, democracy, truth, objectivity, honesty, privacy. If the proper role of journalism is seen as providing information, then the ethical questions focus on one issue: maintaining the quality of the information. This issue has become a matter of political controversy and public concern. Many people think the media are inaccurate and biased.
The Robert Maxwell case has re-opened the issue of media ownership. Questions of censorship and freedom of information have arisen in connection with Spycatcher, the fight against terrorism in Northern Ireland and the wars in the Falklands and the Gulf. Not to mention issues with ISIL. There is much concern about the trivialising and exploitative representation of women in the media, etc.
The dissemination and discussion of information concerning the major problems the world and its people face is necessary to both the democratic understanding and the democratic action without which the problems cannot be solved – without which, in fact, they will escalate. So here is great opportunity for the media to contribute to the advancement of peace, prosperity and progress.
With one seventh of the world’s population – one billion people – in a state of dire physical need, questions about the production, distribution and consumption, the ownership and control, of he world’s material resources will continue to be a central relevance and importance to the political agenda.
Turning from the global to the national level, we find that the issue of quality is still inescapable. A free and vigorous press and other organs of mass meida and mass communications are agreed to be amnog the essential ingredients of a healthy society. Why do I uses the word “vigorous”? Because it is clear that freedom is not sufficient: a press could be free yet timid or torpid. Ethics is not just a matter of codes of conduct (plus or minus sanctions), not just a matter of rules to be followed. It is more to do with principles concerning the rights and worngs of human conduct, principles which have some reasoned theoretical basis and which therefore apply objectively and impartially.
If a ethical system gives moral cohesion to the individuals and institutions, then that is the most needed issue for professional journalists. Why? Mass media are among the most influential enterprises in democratic society, on the crossroads between citizens and their political, economic and social institutions.
Ethical standards should be based on the intellect and experience, but we have another very interesting issue within it – wisdom. Very often we hear things like “he / she is very wisdom” but what he / she has done might not be ethical at all. Wisdom also demands breathing room for advertisers who use “puffery” in their commercial messages, if the ads are not deceptive. Hyperbole is the handmaiden of salesmanship, and the market place suffers little from the introduction of exaggerated commercial claims of enhanced sex appeal and social acceptance. A code based on wisdom promotes ethical behavior while avoiding excessive and unreasonable moral propriety. Application of this criterion to a system of ethics results in flexibility, which shuns the extremes of an intransigent code at the end and moral anarchy at the other. In journalism, the proper balanced is somewhere between the sensational and the bland.
Five criterions represent basics of any kind of ethical system, including the one that belongs to professional journalists. First, ethical system must have joint values related to the society encircled. Because, before bringing of ethical judgments, society must achieve agreement about the standards of moral behavior. Second one is that those standards must be reposed on reason and experience and should try to harmonize rights and interests of the people with their obligations towards other people. Third, ethical system must search for the justice. There should not be double standards within behavior, except if there is no convincing and morally sustainable reason for discrimination. Fourth, ethical system should be reposed on the freedom of choice and system of ethic which is not contained of responsibility encourages freedom without responsibility and by doing that does not have moral authority to encourage honorable behavior. And we get, as said, then – moral anarchy. Finally, my firm stand is that we should use this sentence as well in professional journalism: “As much rights I gain, I should gain equal amount of responsibilities.”
So, the Government will provide information, but media and journalists should play ethically within moral encirclement for the benefit of the society as the whole.
In quality control – should we focus on Law or Ethics? The issue of quality is inescapable. A free and vigorous press and other organs of mass communications are agreed to be among the essential ingredients of a healthy democracy. When I mentioned “vigorous” I meant that freedom is not sufficient: a press could be free yet timid or torpid.
What is important is that the activity that wishes to call itself professional be conducted on an ethical basis and that its practitioners be accountable for their actions.
Ethics is not just matter of codes of conducts (plus or minus sanctions), not just matter of rules to be followed. It is more to do with principles concerning the rights and wrongs of human conduct, principles which have some reasoned theoretical basis, and which therefore apply objectively and impartially within the quality way of presenting the information.
Yes, maintaining the quality of information, just like having a code of conduct, is the restoration of the honor of journalism.
What is true on a national level is also true internationally. A commitment to quality of information and information flow to meet the urgent and demanding need for action in a troubled world is required on a global scale.
To ensure freedom of information on this scale both global networks and democratic access are essential. Here the enemies of freedom are perhaps even more formidable, through intolerant or totalitarian governments and transnational capitalist corporations are not natural allies, and to some extent their interest’s conflict. But whether censorship-ideological, religious or commercial – can prevail against the need for quality in the global media is not something that can today be predicted.
TWO BEACONS CREATE A LINK ON THE HIGWAY OF HOPE
Creation of the policy through using the media to which is given a objective and not misleading information from the government is missing one part. That is the way how government should play, in ethical and knowledgeable way. Simple as it is. Being educated bot – government and the media – within media literacy devotion towards understanding that government is here not because of the government itself but because of the ones who elected that government.
Yes, people do not even to be fully media literate at the beginning (that is a second step of the planned activity) but media and government should be from the beginning.
To have that ethical codex for the world governments will be based on those principles:
- Moral responsibility (depending on the understanding of morality within each country) for the responsibility of the public services in the sense that the Minister is a servant to the people and not vice versa;
- Moral leaders – everything comes from the top and people cannot be blamed anywhere for the mistakes of politicians on power;
- Ethical government – accept and takes responsibility for the actions. As higher the power as higher the responsibility.
- Ethics within the depth of public service – a compliance function – established within the government by independent advisory board and control. Prime-minister is not on a higher position than the Main officer for ethical and legislative compliance of act of the whole government and both are elected by the Assembly.
- Transparency in work of the government (not to wait for somebody to ask the Government to present something). The ethical government presents publicly its work and by that creates a reputation.
- Competitiveness of the public service – quality, ethical people and not just party listeners should be participating.
- Creation of coalition on power on the foundation of Ethics and not if this or that party is left and/or right and/or in the center.
- Ethical government and economic development of any country should be highly connected – through zero tolerance to manipulation of the information; the economy where no ethics is on power suites only a few selected firms and persons close to the Government.
- The ethical government has all preconditions to help people in one country to have the moral recovery of one society.
So, where are to beacons mentioned above? Again, answer is simple: one is responsibility and another one is obligation. Ethical people do not have problem with it.
“ROCK’N’ROLL” WILL PREVAIL
Of course, “rock’n’roll” word here is thy synonym of changes, positive changes vs. old rhythm of traditional kind of “music” within the media and/or government. Again, how?
Conclusion is in one sentence, written by myself back in July 10, 2018 here, on these Eurasia Review pages:
“Media literacy, if it is, in an appropriate way entered into the society, through suitable and adequate educational process, can be a help in the defining of the possibility of the development of society of immediate democratic consciousness.”
At the and of the day POLICY created as mentioned will lead POLITICS to establish and encircle a healthy society which will, in long term, give a benefit for all and not just for few, regardless about which kind of government we are talking about (left and/or right one) anywhere in the world.