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Business Journalists trained on Ethical Reporting

  Feb 20, 2015

The Safaricom Business Journalism Fellowship is a program offered by Strathmore Business School (SBS), in conjunction with Safaricom, tailored specifically for business journalists. It is offered through a mix of one three-phase four-day module, nine intensive half-day workshops and nine guest speaker dinner events.
Commencing the first session of the four-day module, Dr George Njenga, dean of SBS, took the participants through the Code of Ethics for Journalists from a world-renowned newspaper.

His lecture touched on common ethical issues faced by journalists relating to their work, their relationship with their colleagues, sources and with readers. He stressed the importance of checking facts, the exactness of quotations and the integrity of photographs. “Avoid anonymous sources,” he added.

Though total impartiality is virtually impossible, journalists should strive to be as impartial possible. Dr Njenga explored the implications of accepting awards, participation in politics and government and ownership of stock in news-worthy companies on the impartiality of journalists. Partiality, he said, can, and often does, result in humiliation, legal action, lost time and embarrassment, among other negative impacts.

Readers deserve to be given the complete, unvarnished truth, served with a certain level of refinement. Lies and plagiarism are detrimental to journalists’ relationship with readers. Also, journalists shouldn’t blackmail or trick their sources to get information from them, or violate their confidentiality without their approval.

Ultimately, ethics rest on character, which can only be understood with reference to the nature of the human being. He analysed the human roots of the cardinal virtues; prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, and their importance to journalists.

Journalists have to be leaders, and “leadership is not a word. It is an action inside individuals,” said Dr Njenga. Human institutions are here to serve the person, family, nation, and the universal society, not to bring returns to individuals.

Answering questions at the end of the class, Dr Njenga stressed the need for innovation in journalism. “You have a lot of power to change the fortunes of journalism,” he said. “But you sit on it. And that’s because you don’t have respect for your vocation as journalists.” Journalists have the task of packaging their society, and thus presenting it to the outside world. Lack of, or bad, communication destroys society.

To learn more about the program, click here.

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