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Media Credibility Index report - August - September 2012
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
September 30, 2012

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More than ever before, the media today play a critical role in any society. The media, from the shows we watch on TV, the music we listen to on the radio, our newspapers and magazines, and now the news services and social network pages of the Internet, serve as our main sources of information and communication. They keep societies connected to the world and to each other and informed about trends, events and opinions at every level. They are, in fact, the cohesive glue that reinforces our sense of identity; to our culture and the communities in which we live, and to the nations to which we belong.

A statement of Shared Purpose released by the Committee of Concerned Journalists (CCJ) following years of research into the "principles that underlie journalism" presents the function of the media as encompassing myriad roles in society. These include helping define community; creating common language and common knowledge; identifying a community's goals, heroes and villains; pushing people beyond complacency; entertaining; serving as watchdog and offering a voice to the voiceless.

The world over, the media is considered as an industry, as a public service and as a political institution. And because they are the engineers of public opinion and forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy, it is imperative that a significant proportion of the public must trust them.

In this context, information in journalism is therefore considered as a social good and not a commodity. This means media organisations share the responsibility for the disseminated information, not only to their proprietors but also to the public at large, a situation which entails journalists to assume their social responsibility always in conformity with a personal ethical consciousness.

The Society of Journalists (SJ) - one of the leading voices in the US on the subject of Journalistic Standards and Ethics - notes the indispensability of professionalism and credibility in the way the media conducts its work: "The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility."

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