August 19, 2016

Constructive journalism is the bedrock of healthy democracy

Freedoms of expression, assembly and association are all regarded as well-established provisions in international human rights law. As a fourth pillar of nation building, the media have both the rights and responsibilities to take part in strengthening and supporting democratic processes in tandem with the three others, executive, legislative and judicial.
In London last month, the United Nations called for the world’s media to take a more constructive and solution-focused approach to a cacophony of voices, which the global body said are ‘often ill-informed and based on narrow agenda’. This highlights the importance of constructive journalism in educating, engaging and empowering people. Sir Martyn Lewis, a former BBC News presenter in the 80s and 90s who covered the death of Prince Diana, argued that responsible media is ‘solutions-driven journalism that not only reports problems but also explores potential solutions to those problems’.
It is, therefore, safe to assume that a democracy is incomplete unless it recognises free speech and free press. This does not necessarily mean that journalists enjoy the right to brandish their pens at will in a reckless manner. In our country as a young democracy, many people still hold the view that politics is going against the government. It is not difficult to justify this general public perception, given the length of time they had to live under unilateral rule. The country underwent more than five decades of rule by a single party.
Now is the time for the media to inspire people to action by highlighting the importance of public participation in democracy and encouraging them to participate in shaping better democratic governance. On the whole, a healthy democracy entails shared responsibility.


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