Learning about the importance of media ethics and accurate reporting while at the JMSC has inspired TV producer and JMSC graduate Lhagva Erdene to help establish a media ethics council in Mongolia.
The Mongolian Press Council, the first such organisation in the country, was formed in January 2015 through the efforts of a group of Mongolian journalists that Erdene helped coordinate.
The group worked for a year to gain industry consensus, and the newly formed council will monitor and raise awareness of unethical practices by the Mongolian media, implement an ethics code for journalists, work to reduce unwarranted prosecution of journalists, and mediate between the media and dissatisfied news consumers.
Erdene, who graduated with a Master of Journalism degree in 2014 and is now an executive producer at Mongol TV, said learning about the importance of free and responsible journalism had made him realise he could do something to improve the situation in his home country
“Reporting ethics and good practices were taught and practiced at the JMSC,” said Erdene. “The professors highlighted many stories of journalists making mistakes or newsrooms getting things wrong, and how they handled such misreporting or retracted stories was very interesting to me at the time.”
He helped form a group of Mongolian journalists who started exploring different approaches to media ethics. They also enlisted the help of media ethics experts from Germany and Bosnia, who explained to Mongolian media organisations the importance of having an independent council that could help protect news consumers and journalists alike. Group members then worked with journalists to explain why a media ethics council was important, and to explain how such a council works.
“The advocacy effort took a long time,” Erdene said, “but we involved everyone from the very beginning and looked at the ethics codes and media council structure of different countries, and talked about what worked and what don’t.”
“The mistrust of each other soon left, and they understand that this bunch of people meeting every week is actually trying to better the industry, so they showed support, which was an amazing feeling.”
The media in Mongolia face threats to their independence from the government, with the press rated only “partly free” by the independent watchdog Freedom House Index. Criminal prosecution of journalists is also a problem: 297 civil and 16 criminal cases were brought against journalists in the country between 1999 and 2011.