Plan for press ombudsman to self-regulate media

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PETALING JAYA — A group representing the Malaysian press announced yesterday that it has started work for a press ombudsman as a way to self-regulate the media.

In a statement, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-IFRA)’s Media Freedom Committee (MFC) Malaysia said it will form a sub-committee to study the issue following discussions with local news editors.

“The idea of a press ombudsman, that can also help set certain common standards for the industry, was discussed during the roundtable by some 15 editors from different media mediums and languages.

“Following the discussion, an overwhelming majority of the editors agreed on the need to have a press ombudsman in Malaysia,” the committee said.

An ombudsman is a public official who acts as an impartial intermediary between the public and government or bureaucracy, or an employee of an organisation who mediates disputes.

The decision came after the MFC agreed that the formation of an independent, self-regulating press council is a long process that will take time.

The group said a body representing the press in Malaysia that would act as a mediator between the government and the media is essential, amid criminal action against some in the industry.

The decision was made following the second closed-door roundtable consultation with media editors in Kuala Lumpur.

“This committee will attempt to include the larger media fraternity in this conversation regarding a press ombudsman in Malaysia, and will also come up with several alternative frameworks as to how an ombudsman structure can be set up in Malaysia,” it said.

The MFC committee comprises nine experienced Malaysian journalists and editors.