Ethics in the local context and the role of media

Tuesday, 31 December 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Having started his career as a lawyer although he never practiced due to his involvement in business, George Steuart Chairman Dilith Jayaweera observed that especially from a Western perspective, the context in which this area is looked at is on a profit maximisation window. “The importance of people or planet, how you bring it together is in the context of profit maximisation,” he said. “But for us Sri Lankans, this means something different. Profit maximisation has its own limitations for us here as more than the yearly report published we are answerable to our children in a much bigger way. We are answerable to employees, families, parents, neighbours, etc.” Just for show “For me, as an advertising and media person, I see that the West is trying ethical behaviour and concept of ethics on more of an advertising platform,” Jayaweera said. “Large organisations do the most unethical things in the world and try to behave like the most ethical organisations in front of stakeholders, consumers. It is all about getting attention – big brands, organisations and corporations may seem ethical, but for us I believe it is very different.” Role of media In that context, the role of media in the East is very different to the role of media in the West. Local media should be responsible enough to differentiate the bogus so-called ethical practice to the real practice. Media is there to communicate. “In a local context, I would suggest that we can expect it not to be about creating. Given the nature of society and how closely knitted we are, it is very difficult to create perceptions with large gaps between reality and the representation. I believe we must look at these concepts from a practical, relevant and meaningful context and delivering a genuine message to the people of this country. Our media must understand this.” Counting eyeballs Varied researchers have forced media organisations to go by readership/viewership figures, focusing on how to get more eyeballs on the channel or newspaper. This could mean showing programs that are not acceptable only to attract more viewership. “Help us find a better way to look at ethics of media so that advertisers are looking at channels, news papers or radio channels from a qualitative perspective than a quantitative perspective,” he said. Jayaweera added: “If you look at print media as a conventional media today, they are forced to work in most unethical manner in creating what we call ‘created news’ to have most interesting headlines.” “Most of the national newspapers must take responsibility – a couple of papers are dedicated to what we call ‘nadu-marana-dushana pitu’ with the content highlighting the most unaccepted behaviour in Sri Lankan society. Media organisations must be forced to look at its content in a much more ethical manner than what they do today.” Learning from Buddhism “With due respect to all religions, Lord Buddha has given many examples on how one must behave ethically and be a successful organisation or entrepreneur,” he said. “He has told us how to do the right things which can always being sustainable, bring equitable profits to organisations, and which will bring bigger happiness to entrepreneurs rather than making profits by cheating.” Many brands across the world, at least the top 10, do not deliver the real product value; rather, they deliver on brand value which is driven by creative perception. “We are real people. We are here to accept that living ethically and being successful is the right way forward.”