Experts insist on principle “Don’t cause harm in information process”
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17:34, 20 Mar 2017

A particular improvement has been seen in the journalistic practices of covering subjects concerning vulnerable persons or children compared with the situation witnessed ten years ago. But there are yet cases when representatives of the mass media do not take into account the recommendations of the Ethics Code, do not aim to protect the supreme interest of the child and have a formal attitude to the legal obligation to protect children in situations with a negative connotation. Such opinions were stated by experts who took part in a debate at IPN staged by the Platform for Active Citizenship and Human Rights Partnership (CAP). The experts formulated recommendations and insisted on the principle “Don’t cause harm in information process”.

CAP director Antonita Fonari said that some of the journalists do not obey the norms of conduct defined in the Ethics Code. The activist gave as example a recently disseminated report about a case of rape in the family. The reporter interviewed the child-victim, blurred his image, but didn’t modify his voice. The child’s father, the possible aggressor, also appeared in the images and this enables to identify the victim. Antonita Fonari considers that when the Ethic Code does not work, the law should work. The journalists or those from the new media who do harm should be held accountable. If journalists determine someone to commit suicide by their reports, they should also answer for this.

Director of the Independent Journalism Center Nadine Gogu said that things in the media are better compared with 15 years ago. The faces of children are not presented. Morbid images or images of relatives of children in a state of shock are disseminated seldom. The journalists often lay emphasis on sensation to accumulate rating and neglect the rules that they know very well. Before publishing a report where the protagonists are venerable persons, the authors should think well who they can affect and how they can help. In such cases, the authors should first ask themselves “How not to do harm?”.

President of the National Center for Child Abuse Prevention, psychologist Daniela Samboteanu said the mass media are a reliable partner that supported many campaigns promoted by civil society. There are yet many cases when the impact of non-ethical covering negatively affects a person or a family. Journalists often cover particular cases and aim to bring about system changes, but these can be obtained only by high-quality reports and investigations, not by sensations. It is important for each journalist to ask himself what he wants to obtain by publishing a report and avoid disseminating shocking information. The journalists should also cover alternative subjects and subjects that can prevent particular cases.

Psychologist Daniel Mazepa, senior specialist of the General Police Inspectorate’s General Public Security Division, said they work with employees so that these know how to react in different situations. But things become difficult in spontaneous situations. For example, in a case of suicide attempt, the journalists insist with many questions and information can be leaked. This affects the investigation or the employee cannot formulate arguments to explain why he cannot provide more information and avoids the press. Even if it is believed that the children or teens are not consumers of news, these anyway come across press reports, including though social networking sites. The minors most often remember words or subjects with a negative connotation.

Head of the Prevention Section of the Inspectorate’s General Public Security Division Daniela Buzatu stated that when subjects about children are disseminated, the supreme interest of the minor should be taken into account. With the ratification of a number of international treaties, Moldova pledged to ensure the rights of children, but there are yet situations when the media reports have a negative impact. It is recommended that the image of minors in news items about these should be blurred and their voice should be distorted, while personal data and details about the deed should be avoided.

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