Journalist groups form alliance, demand to be consulted in setting up of media council

Malaysian journalists outside the North Korean embassy  in Kuala Lumpur March 8, 2017. — Reuters pic
Malaysian journalists outside the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur March 8, 2017. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 7 — Several journalist groups have joined hands to form the Malaysian Media Council Journalists Alliance to work together in drawing up a proposal on the setting up of a Malaysian media council.

In a joint statement today, the alliance had also called for journalists to be included in the formation of the media council, as a proposal for such a council is being submitted to the government by a group of publishers in the media industry, without being made public.

The journalist groups involved in the alliance include the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Malaysia, Institute of Journalists (IOJ) Malaysia, Gerakan Media Merdeka (GERAMM), Sabah Journalists Association and Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia (FCCM).

“While we welcome the formation of a media council, neither the contents of this proposal were made public or shared with all journalists, nor were we invited to take part in its consultative process.

“We cannot endorse any submitted proposal that has not been seen or reviewed in detail by journalists at all levels of the industry.

“We believe it is essential that journalists be involved as they are the largest stakeholders in the media landscape, and have driven the formation of media councils around the world,” the statement read.

Following the formation of a steering committee to discuss the next step to make the council a reality, the alliance said that not all of the media groups were committed to the process and that any proposal from external groups will be taken back to the alliance for final endorsement or amendments.

“We would also like to acknowledge the efforts taken by non-governmental organisations such as the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) in facilitating the discourse on the setting up of the media council this week. This has resulted in the reported announcement on a formation of a steering committee involving our groups.

“While some of us may continue to be part of external discussions on the bill, such as the CIJ-MCCHR initiative, any proposal will be taken back to our alliance of journalists for final endorsement or amendments, if need be.

“This resulting document is what will be backed by our groups rather than any produced by external stakeholders,” it said.

The alliance had also call upon journalists to participate in the Media Council Survey, which closes on march 31 and results will be considered in the proposal.

Representatives of journalist interest groups that are interested in being part of the alliance may [email protected] on the matter until the end of the month.