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Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Journalists

J is for Journalist

"Wittaya noted that it was a print out of an e-mail which was addressed to Prime Minister, Cadogan. He quickly skimmed to the end of the e-mail where he saw a name which immediately made his chest tighten. Ellen Barlow. He looked up at Gillard, and raised his eyebrows.

‘Read it,’ she said.

I am writing to give you advance notice of a story which will be published in the Australian on Thursday. It concerns the Immigration Minister, Wittaya Keawwanna. At the Asylum Seekers Conference in Sydney earlier in the week, the Minister was pelted with fruit by protestors. This has already been broadcast, as you know. However, what has not been revealed as yet, is what took place in the minister’s hotel room following the conference.

Wittaya felt sick, and wanted to stop reading. Such a hurricane of emotion raged within that he feared he would explode, but by a tremendous exertion of his will, he continued reading.

Two young women who were attendees at the conference were invited to the Minister’s room by the minster himself, whereupon he plied them with alcohol and attempted to force himself on them.

‘This I total bullshit!’

Cadogan leaned forward, ‘Total or partial, Wit?’" 
  
from chapter 10, Ashmore Grief.

Is a journalist’s job to report the news, or to make it? Sometimes you really have to wonder. Reporters write stories and editors decide what goes to print, or to air in the case of television. What motivates these decisions? The right of the public to know the truth about a matter, to have the facts? The desire to sell copies or attract viewers? The wish to push their own agendas? The media campaign against former Australian Prime Minster, Julia Gillard, was disgraceful, as was the coverage of political issues leading into the most recent election which saw tony Abbott installed in the top job much to the dismay of this writer. The reporting was unbalanced and embarrassingly superficial. 

Journalists with personal axes to grind can use their positions to grandstand, and they often do. Editors use misleading and sensationalist headlines and stories to attract attention to themselves, their issues and their media platforms.

What about truth? Most people only accept those facts which support their prejudices. If we have something against a person, we like to hear stories of how bad they are because it reinforces our low opinion of them. How many contrary facts would it take to convince someone that they were wrong? How long is a piece of string? The selective use of truth, or what masquerades as truth, is an epidemic in society, and the media is society’s champion. Who can we trust?


Who do you trust?

6 comments:

  1. It's a very delicate balancing act between preserving the necessary rights of journalists to report freely, and protecting those who might be attacked maliciously by particular journalists.

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    1. Delicate is the word. Stu. The lines drawn between ethical and unethical or moral and immoral are sometimes very fine. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  2. It is always interesting to see what gets reported in the news and what doesn't - more than that, it seems that more and more news agencies are putting their own slant on the news instead of merely reporting it. That's why I like to get my news from many different sources, this way I get as many details as possible and can form my own opinions.

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    1. Different sources? Very wise of you. That what I do.

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  3. "Is a journalist’s job to report the news, or to make it? Sometimes you really have to wonder. Reporters write stories and editors decide what goes to print, or to air in the case of television. What motivates these decisions? The right of the public to know the truth about a matter, to have the facts? The desire to sell copies or attract viewers? The wish to push their own agendas?"

    I think the answer to all these questions is yes. Some weigh more heavily than others, depending on which journalist you're talking about.

    Who can we trust? Who do we trust? Those are hard. I think I have to weigh all the facts before I make a decision.

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    1. I hear you Liz. Not an easy issue to address in a blog comment, but you did well, and I thank you.

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