25.01.2018 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

UNESCO and Timor-Leste Press Council discuss the hopes and aspirations of local media community

UNESCO and Timor-Leste’s media community

More than sixty Timor-Leste journalists and media organizations gathered in Dili today to discuss their hopes, wishes, and concerns of the media in the country. As part of the of a 3-year project between UNESCO Office in Jakarta and the Conselho de Imprensa Timor-Leste (Timor-Leste Press Council), the local media community gathered at a stakeholder meeting to discuss the state of media freedom in the country and to provide concrete feedback and suggestions for improving self-regulation.

“The Conselho de Imprensa welcomes the cooperation with UNESCO to improve the self-regulation of the media in the country” said Mr. Virgilio da Silva Guterres, the President of the press council. Mr. da Silva Guterres also noted that “despite the challenges faced by journalists nowadays, professional standards and editorial independence must not be compromised”

“Self-regulation is one of the mechanisms for managing the media affairs in a country by media practitioners themselves” said Dr. Ming-Kuok Lim, the Advisor for Communication and Information for UNESCO Cluster Office in Jakarta which covers Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. Dr. Lim also added that “when done correctly results in a system that is flexible and can be a driver of change in the industry”.

At the heart of the matter are the credibility and professional standards of journalists. Self-regulation is good approach to improve professional standards, strengthen editorial independence, and reduces external influence from political and economic interferences.  Self-regulation functions optimally when the community of media practitioners respects and abide by the journalistic code of ethics and they practice quality reporting.

It is a challenging time for journalists and media organization globally against the backdrop of fragmentation of the audience with the multitude of media products and outlets as well as declining readership in traditional media. In Timor-Leste, the challenges are made more acute by the limited size of media market, pre-existing challenges of a developing nation and the rise of social media as the pre-dominant mode of accessing current affairs and news.

The various stakeholders were encouraged to voice out their thoughts and opinions openly. Their feedback was noted down and will serve as a baseline for improving the self-regulation of the media and in the process strengthen the professional standards of the journalists in the country.

The stakeholder meeting included a roundtable discussion between the media owner, editors, community media, journalists’ union, journalists association, and department of dissemination of information (SECMCs). The two local universities with journalism programme, UNTL and UNITAL, also made a presentation on the role of social communication organizations to promote press freedom.

The event is part of the project, “Strengthening Media Self-Regulatory Mechanisms in Timor-Leste”, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands which will officially launch on 13 March 2018 in Dili. For more information about the project, please visit the website: https://en.unesco.org/partnerships/foe/media-self-regulatory-mechanisms-in-Timor-Leste 

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