OUTLET TO SOURCES ONE OF MAJOR PROBLEMS OF AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISM

February 22nd, 2008
Today in the International Press Center a coalition of journalist organizations presented "Results of Monitoring of Adherence to Ethics in Azerbaijani Press Project.”

"Turan" News Agency Director and Press Council Board member Mehman Aliyev, Head of Monitoring Israil Musayev, and IREX lawyer Alasgar Mammadli led the press conference. Mehman Aliyev opened the press conference, saying, "When we created the Press Council we wanted a press that delivers correct and objective information to be created. We wanted the press not to offend people's dignity. But we couldn't achieve this and the press in Azerbaijan is shattered today.  There's a complaint commission in the Press Council. We, some members of Press Council – Azerbaijan Journalists Union, Yeni Nesil Journalist Union, Democratic Journalists League, “RUH” Journalists Union, and Najaf Najafov Fund- decided to come together and carry out this monitoring. At present there are 57 newspapers and 3 websites with major influence in Azerbaijan. For three months we have been carrying out this monitoring. Today for the first time we are presenting the results of it. Our aim is to bring existing problems to light and to solve them. The major problem of Azerbaijani journalism is that we don't have an outlet to sources. Irregardless of being a governmental or non-governmental newspaper, the mass media must adhere to the rules or leave the press."
Israil Musayev spoke about the results of the monitoring. “The statistics show that overall 18,715 violations were registered,” Musayev said. “Out of these 2,200 were from the third category (not naming people, insulting honor and dignity, and touching on private life).  The first category is truth, accuracy, and objectiveness, while the second category includes respects for source, relationship with source. Some of the most common violations were journalist’s writing their own opinions, not maintaining balance, and writing without presenting the opinion of the other side. The most common violation was writing titles that do not correspond with the articles they are for.”
Alesger Mammedli said, “When I started working on this project I decided I we would try to fix something. While analyzing these articles I used the existing legislation for my basis. I acquired as many facts as possible. And with that, I want to note this was a lot of work. I ended up picking 89 out of the 2,200 I was given. I think that, after this to continue this process is to say that the press needs to take a good look at itself.
In response to a comment by “Zerkalo” Newspaper employee Mirabbas Mammedov that “At the head of every newspaper is the chief editor,” and “Maybe we can change the accent to place blame on the chief editor,” M. Aliyev said, “I believe that it is not the chief editor’s fault, because only the journalist is responsible for what he/she writes.”
At the end of the press conference, Aliyev added that although Press Council Chairman Aflatun Amashev was not present at today’s event because of health problems, he completely agrees with this report and asked me to express that to you.”