24 septiembre 2007

Claude-Jean Bertrand. In memoriam

Poco eco percibo en la muerte de Claude-Jean Bertrand. Era profesor emérito en el Instituto Francés de la Prensa en la París II. Es de esas ausencias injustificables en la lista de pensadores de la comunicación en Infoamérica. Quizá sea un simple olvido y se repare el fallo.

En las últimas décadas los estudios de Bertrand sobre la evolución de los grandes medios en Europa, le volvieron un periodista e investigador más interesado en la formación ética de sus colegas profesionales. Pero poco puede el individuo frente a los aparatos políticos y mercantiles.

Después ha pasado a hablar más de la ética de las instituciones, en concreto de defensores, códigos y potocolos en los medios de comunicación como empresas o corporaciones. No es fácil explicar y promocionar la ética de una estructura empresarial, pero lo ha intentado. Con su sistema de evaluación de medios, o en por otras vías, debemos frenar las "leyes de silencio" sobre temas de importancia social general y el eco abusivo de engaños y entretenimientos globales. No son ideas ni muy distintas ni desde luego menos importantes que las del resto de pensadores en el catálogo que elabora Infoamérica.

Quizá interese a alguien leer este tipo de ideas en Media Ethics and Accountability Systems o en otros de sus textos.

ethics is of little use if there are no means to enforce its codes. Not governmental means or managerial means, like jail or firing. What I have in mind are "Media Accountability Systems" (M.A.S.). About 60 exist, using peer-pressure and public pressure to obtain respect for the rules.

Among the best known M.A.S.' are correction boxes, ombudsmen, journalism reviews and press councils. Among the least acknowledged: readership surveys, awareness programs, higher education and non-profit research. Among the least used: in-house critics, ethical audits and associations of media consumers.

M.A.S. aim at eradicating the sins that journalists commit. Sure.

But there's a danger there. Journalists commit lots of visible little sins but the worst sins by far are committed by the media. Ethics should not be used to turn news people into scapegoats. On the contrary, it should assist the journalistic profession in fighting media sins, in countering attacks on the freedom and the quality of the press.

That is why I believe that the main purpose of M.A.S. is to rebuild public trust in the news media, which is low everywhere and getting lower. Most M.A.S. are means for journalists to listen to the public and to work with it in order to improve services.

Do you doubt the capacity of the public to improve the press? Just think of the early 1980's when the French public pressured the newly elected socialist government into lifting the old State monopoly on broadcasting (which right wing governments over the previous 23 years had refused to abolish): that liberation superbly improved radio and television news.

The profession needs to recover and increase the trust of the public, by listening to it and rendering accounts to it. Then journalists will be able to mobilize millions of voters and consumers - and fight their opponents, political and economic, with a good chance of winning.

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Gracias a Manuel Pinto y a José Luis Orihuela por no callarse.
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