NUSA DUA (Bali), Sat. -- Some 130 senior journalists from more than 60 countries will leave this paradise island at the end of the Third Global Inter-Media Dialogue with a fresh reminder that sensitivity and tolerance are not only crucial but essential in preventing unwanted consequences when news dissemination now knows no border.
Whatever they write or are responsible for in their publication, should take into consideration the fact that the news, though aimed for the local or national audience, would also reach unintended multi-cultural societies as it would be read or viewed by others the world over who might be offended at the content of the report.
The reminder from Arthauli Tobing, Head of Policy Analysis and Development Agency of the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, when closing the three-day dialogue on Friday, was concurred by many who said that they frequently forgot that modern technology had carried their reports across and over their national borders.
"Sometimes, when too deep into thinking and considering our national interests, we forgot that others elsewhere too, aided by the internet, are able to read what we wrote eventhough it was meant for our own national consumption," the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) General Manager Datuk Azman Ujang, one of the participants, said.
However, he said, some reports by some parties were clearly meant and intended for all to read, with some ignoble aims that could be considered unjournalistic, especially when it clearly ignored the sensitivities of others, citing the example of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons in early 2006 which had caused Muslims worldwide to react angrily.
Hariri, a journalist from host country Indonesia, said the reminder was timely as many sometimes did forget this fact, coupled with their ignorance of the sensitivities of cultures and religions of others outside their country or their usual work borders.
"I believe that if we, as journalists, take time to also learn about others, especially on religions and cultures foreign to us, we would be better prepared and more understanding when writing about others so as to avoid from offending them," he said, citing examples of unnecessary and uncalled for terms very much liked by western press such as "Muslim terrorist".
Meanwhile, a group of senior journalists in a joint statement said the changing media landscapes that brought up great opportunities to communicate in new and different ways also brought along a major challenge to ensure continued respect for the core values and ethics of journalism built upon respect for the truth, independence and professional social responsibility.
"Our discussions (at the Dialogue) have provided a brilliant kaleidoscope of diverse opinions and ideas from different countries and cultures from all around the world. Again we have been enriched by the experience," they said in concluding that the dialogue, sponsored by the Norwegian and Indonesian governments, had been a success.
Some participants left on Friday while some went on a tour of Yogyakarta before leaving for home on Saturday.-- BERNAMA