MANILA (MindaNews/15 Oct) — A group of journalists from nine countries in Asia-Pacific signed a declaration in Manila on Friday echoing their common concerns on reporting violence and emergencies.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), an independent and non-political organization, said the media have an important role to play in covering conflict and violence as well as the issues faced by the vulnerable groups.
The ICRC hosted the two-day regional media conference for Southeast and East Asia held at the Heritage Hotel that ended Friday.
At least 50 journalists signed the Manila Declaration during the conference themed, “Reporting on Violence and Emergencies”.
Veronica Pedrosa, correspondent of the Al Jazeera English, led the signing of the declaration.
Pedrosa, named ‘Best News Anchor’ at the 9th Asian Television Awards, gave a keynote speech on the role of social media in contemporary conflicts during the conference.
These contemporary conflicts, the group said, cover the recent violent mass clashes around the world, which originated from opposing interests or perceived injustices among different religious, cultural or ethnic groups.
The Manila Declaration stated that the journalists had agreed to continue their discussions on the challenges and opportunities presented by ‘contemporary conflicts’ and fast-changing information environment such as what constitute responsible journalism, neutrality versus transparency, accuracy versus time constraints, and being a responsible and responsive journalist.
With these challenges, the journalists agreed to set up an online forum to share information among them, which aims to promote the International Humanitarian Law in reporting violence and emergencies.
The online forum, they stressed, aims to encourage the growth of a community of media practitioners who share their concerns.
“To that end, journalists should recognize the importance of ethical reporting, independence and transparency in ensuring their own safety. They should work towards a media industry-supported safety code similar to that suggested by the International News Safety Institute (INSI),” said the declaration.
It also expressed support for the ICRC in distributing a small laminated card summarizing the rights of journalists under international law.
The declaration also emphasized the need to “initiate education programs on training and sharing knowledge and experience on operating in traumatic and dangerous situations and set up formal peer support programs” and to work together with the ICRC and non-government organizations to “persuade governments and parties involved in conflict to meet their legal and moral obligations.”
Among those who signed the declaration were Pedrosa; Peter Cave, foreign affairs editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Australia; Yu Zheng, senior editor of the Xinhua News Agency in China; Yuli Ismartono, deputy chief editor of Tempo in Indonesia; Mike McRoberts, anchor of the TV3 in New Zealand; Duan Congcong of China’s Global Times; Hidetoshi Fujisawa of NHK in Japan; Zulfiani Lubis of ANTV of Indonesia; Yoshinori Fukushima of the Mainichi Shimbum of Japan; Eddy Suprapto of MNC Business in Indonesia; Zainon Ahmad of The Sun Daily; Mokhtar Hussain of National News Agency in Malaysia, Kamarul Bahrin Bin Haron of Astro Awani; Cho II Joon of The Hankyoreh of South Korea; Pinpaka Ngamsom of Prachatal.com of Thailand; and Thi Lei Win of Reuters AlertNet.and from the Philippines, Isagani Yambot, publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer; Red Batario of the Center for Community Journalism and Development, concurrently regional coordinator for Asia-Pacific of the International News Safety Institute; Cherry Ann Lim of SunStar Cebu; Ledrolen Manriquez of the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network; Malu Cadelina Manar of the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation; Carolyn O. Arguillas of MindaNews, Stella Estremera of SunStar Davao, Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya and VERA Files, Prof. Chay Florentino of Ateneo de Manila University and move.ph and Inday Espina-Varona of ABS-CBNnews.com. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)