Thursday, October 11, 2007

What is the function of Journalists?

Fairfax columnist Karl du Fresne has this week stirred some debate over at the Journnz newsgroup for kiwi journalists with comments about what should journalists actually do?
Is it a matter of ‘straight’ reporting of facts, how much should the reportage try to explain and analyse, but how might this be affected by the reporters own biases and prejudices?
And how does this affect the credibility of the media?
Indeed, some journalists see themselves as ‘agents of change’ but doesn’t this do more harm than good?.
Maybe I should have asked for permission to use the Journnz postings, and perhaps I should have read it in more detail to gain a better thrust, but this column of Karl’s which appeared in the Cook Islands Herald newspaper this month covers similar ground.
“Journalists were once content to be observers and reporters but many now see themselves as active players in the political process. Increasingly, personal comment-under the guise of objective “analysis”- is interspersed with reportage to the point where the viewer, listener or reader can hardly tell which is which.”
Of course, there are claims of journalists doing far worse; downright lying even!
From the US, at the weekend, came reports of journalists downplaying or ignoring reports of US “success” in the “war in Iraq”, with journalists filmed here explaining why.
And then we have this long, long list of journalism cock-ups or lies.
It follows the BBC recently falsifying competitions, including those just to name a cat on the Blue Peter children’s show; never mind showing the Queen in a false light.
This, on top of a raft of biases, alleged and admitted for its news coverage, especially in the Middle East.
Oh dear! For a once honourable profession!
But what can the public do about it?


Psycho Milt said...

Just so I've got this straight: to illustrate your view that journalists have lost the objectivity they had as a "once honourable profession," you show a "What if CNN had reported D-Day" cartoon - the essence of said cartoon being a bitter complaint that journalists no longer act as a compliant propaganda arm of government, the way they did in WW2. Kind of undermines your argument, doesn't it?

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Milt, that's a pretty big stretch on your part. There was nothing 'compliant' about the actual reportage of the Normandy landings. The difference was that the media of the day were not Nazi sympathisers whereas much of the US and NZ media actually want the insurgency in Iraq to succeed, just so they can stick one up George Bush's arse.

Inventory2 said...

Fairfacts - I'd be interested in your comments on this:

Has Audrey Young shut down debate on this, and why hasn't anyone else in the MSM raised concerns over the PM's conduct/threats?

Psycho Milt said...

Adolf, you're essentially saying that modern journos hold the wrong political opinions. You and FFM are certainly entitled to that view, but it doesn't at all mean that modern journos are less objective than their predecessors who held political opinions more in line with your own.

Karl du Fresne could usefully look at FFM's cartoon and ponder the fact that the respective govts in that conflict most definitely saw journalists as " players in the political process" and used them accordingly to promote their war aims.

Linda Reid said...

I think the point is that regardless of the reporter's political opinion, they should report the facts in an unbiased manner. This is so rare nowadays that I not sure they even teach how to remove personal bias from stories anymore.

Mark said...

I think we are saying keep your political opinions out of the reporting.

Leave that for editorals.