10:32 19 July
10:27 19 July

The Guardian and principles of journalism - ANALYSIS

Unprofessional attitude toward the first-ever European Games in Baku is not the only misstep of the British media

Baku – APA. “A journalist at all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed. He/she does her/his utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies,” said the first three points of the code of conduct adopted by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) of the United Kingdom. We don’t accidentally refer to the NUJ-prepared version of the code of conduct which is considered golden rules of journalism. Despite the fact that every country and even media outlets in some countries have their codes of conduct, all of these codes are based on the NUJ principles adopted 80 years ago. Prepared and adopted in 1936 jointly with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the 9-point code of conduct is meant for not only for the UK, but also for the entire media space. “The code is adopted by all media outlets, regardless of their socio-political orientation, ideological views and the territory in which they operate,” said the NUJ.


The activity of The Guardian is fully contrary to the code of conduct which is considered the main criterion worldwide. The Guardian published 40 articles about Azerbaijan in May-June, and 23 articles over the last four days. All of these articles are of a negative character. Naturally, any media outlet can not be condemned for negative information as media is charged with disseminating information. If the negative information about any country, person or process turns into an unreasonable trend, it means a violation of the code of conduct. The Guardian problem is exactly related to this aspect. It tries to introduce Azerbaijan as an “anti-democratic” and “underdeveloped” country. If The Guardian at least highlighted the great sports event such as the first-ever European Games in Baku, there probably would be no need to discuss its activity. However, a person, who reads it, has the impression that as if Azerbaijan doesn’t host a European Games or the British team doesn’t compete in the major sports event. How can one explain such a cold-blooded attitude toward the event of high priority?


The Guardian dedicates only three or four articles to the European Games, making unfounded charges. That is, the European Games are the reason for a biased attack on Azerbaijan. For example, the funds spent for the Baku 2015 are estimated at $6 sometimes $8 billion, although the Azerbaijani government has several times announced its expenses for the major sports event. If those who lead The Guardian at least once read their code, they would not have forgotten to report about the opposite side’s position. However, at this point, the Azerbaijani government and the organizing committee for the European Games are not referred and unfounded claims are made that “the government takes advantage of the Games as a means of advertising itself”.


For comparison, it should be noted that The Guardian, in the same period (in May-June), posted ten pro-Georgian articles which hail the development of tourism in the country, former president Mikhail Saakashvili’s appointment in Ukraine, Russia’s threat to Georgia and the Abkhazian conflict.


The Guardian published 8 articles about Armenia in May-June: Kim Kardashian’s fame, the “genocide” problem of Armenia, Armenia-Turkey relations, etc. all in direct support for Armenia.


Theft journalism


Owen Gibson, the Guardian's chief sports correspondent, made his first visit to Azerbaijan in December 2014 in order to provide coverage of the European Games. However, upon his return, he did not write anything of preparations for the European Games. His materials were more political and aimed at targeting Azerbaijan based on distorted facts. After getting familiarized with his activities, it became clear that no articles had ever been written with Gibson’s signature. He tried his first debut during his Azerbaijan visit. Such a spy-like behavior of from the journalist is in contrast with the code of conduct. In the softest manner he can only be called a theft.


Note that, about a thousand journalist have requested accreditation for the European Games. The requests of only three – one of them Gibson – were declined, while the other two were given a negative response due to their visit to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Research shows that the British media has a tradition of showing disrespect for the principles that are presented to the world as etalon. Despite timely efforts made to correct these faults, no result was achieved.


Incomplete ‘Levinson case’


The Levinson case, which caused a sensation throughout the United Kingdom, turned out to be world-famous in short period of time. After the exposure of cases like tracking phone talks of citizens in 2006-2007, intervention in people’s privacy, blackmailing, publicizing of information entrusted to them by people, cooperation with police in illegal areas in return of bribery, information exchange, etc., legal measures were taken against the Sun and News of World newspapers. Despite the verdicts against representatives of the newspapers Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were harsh enough, illegal behaviors in British media did not come to an end. Illegal actions with flagrant violation of ethic principles increased to a point the British government deemed it necessary to carry out special investigations led by Lord Brown Leveson. The process which in involved about 100 media agencies and persons in 2011-2012 was supposed to end with transparency of media-government and media-society relations, proposals for the restriction of behavior beyond the ethic codex and creation of mechanisms. But the results publicized in November 2012 discovered some facts of the negative situation that promises of a second report were excluded from the agenda.


The Guardian’s behaviors show there is a strong need for opening a second “Levinson case”.


APA Analytic Center

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