Complying with the ethical standards when covering the border conflict
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02:29 / 2024-04-13

Complying with the ethical standards when covering the border conflict

Code of EthicsFrequent conflict on the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan over the past few years have led to armed clashes between the border patrols of two countries.

Serious border clash escalated on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on September 16 of this year causing material loss and casualties. From the beginning of the conflict each side accused each other of opening the fire.

From insulting state leaders to calling for war and spreading false information
The coverage of the border conflict in the mass media and social networks was completely different this time. If in the past conflicts, the mass media complied with journalistic ethics and international standards to some extent, this time they violated it completely. It appeared that instead of delivering accurate information and laying the groundwork for the stabilization of the situation, individual journalists and civil society activists of both sides used insults and threats.

The photos of the Tajik leaders with the slogan "Hands off the peaceful people of Kyrgyzstan", "Aggression of the Tajik military against the peaceful people of Kyrgyzstan" and dozen other slogans with insulting and fake videos were spread on social network, official pages and news sites by Kyrgyzstan. Media representatives and civil society activists on the Kyrgyz side deliberately spread insulting posts and false news, which led to the intensification of the information war and the emergence of more fake news.

Undoubtedly the Kyrgyz side violated all legal and moral standards when covering border conflict. We asked three Kyrgyz media experts to explain these actions of journalists and civil society activist; however they refused to do so.

Threats and insults were used by some mass media of Tajikistan as well. There was a lot of use of offensive headlines. The spread of fake news and videos by some journalists and activists of civil society caused people to fall into chaos. "You stupid Kyrgyz are led by criminal leaders", "Dishonorable Kyrgyz", "Even Tajik Gurdofarids are ready to go to war" and hundreds of such posts were spread on social networks by some journalists.

"Information war has its own rules as well"
Experts are also of the opinion that some journalists and civil society activists violated moral norms by using insults and threats in their publications.

According to the Chairman of the Media Council of Tajikistan Huriniso Alizoda, some journalists do not know in fact the ethical standards or have deliberately violated them. "From the beginning of the conflict, we called on them to refrain from insulting and threatening posts and not to get into emotions, but it was unsuccessful. Instead they used hate speech.”

Civil society activists did not follow any rules says Huriniso Alizoda. According to her, to some people using insult and threat expresses more affection and love to the homeland.

"The information war has its own rules as well. Many do not know that main weapon in the war are considered facts. The fact is that the Kyrgyz side violated these norms more."

Only few specialists and editors did not violate the ethical norms says an activist of the civil society, Rustam Gulov. However, active users of social networks, both among journalists and among civil society activists spread inaccurate information, violated ethical standards and called for aggressive military operations. "This situation was observed by both sides, and instead of resolving the conflict quickly, the racial rivalry was provoked among the people of two countries.”

Experts in the field say that the border conflict is a sensitive topic, and journalists should follow the principle of "don’t harm" when covering such issues.

Rukhshona Khakimova, journalist
The material was prepared within the framework of the project "Strengthening the capacity of NANSMIT by developing a "Road Map" for the development of the association, as well as promoting media ethics and self-regulation mechanisms in the press" with the support of the Internews Branch in Tajikistan.


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