Posted by nikhya on March 16, 2008
Nowadays more and more news organizations have introduced the concept of citizen journalism. They implore us to report on some breaking news, send photos and videos. Encouraging as it can be to budding reporters, I have to consider its impact on the standard of journalism. It severely undermines the degree in Journalism, when every one of us starts to act like a journalist. The journalists’ school is exactly to learn the skills needed to make sure that you have a balanced report. Because a journalist has to abide by the high ethical standards. He or she cannot lean towards any side but always needs to be neutral. Although you may have certain personal, political beliefs, those cannot affect the inclinations of your reports. News should be presented from an unbiased position so that the readers have a chance to make their own opinions.
But the dependence on individual reporters WITHOUT any journalistic degrees comes with the risk of not having a balanced and fair viewpoint. It cannot be expected to have common people to not include their political leanings especially when reporting on important news. Or to make it more sensational than it really should be. (Of course that is a completely different issue). We are inclined to have a certain position on an issue, and it is inappropriate that these views are reflected by any news organization. These opinions are best served on personal websites or blogs. But to have reliable news sources report these personal opinions sets a dangerous precedent.
We live today for instant gratification. Breaking news has become more important than just news. The news media channels are in perpetual contest to report FIRST than to report the FACTS. It leads to a flawed presidential election (Read) among others. In sensitive societies, any such false news or rumours can lead to devastating results. Example, communal violence instigated by false report of defamation of a religious statue. Similar situations have happened elsewhere. The retractions and corrections column has expanded noticeably. Today’s news channels are in a frenzy to “create” news than to investigate it. The line between journalists and paparazzi has become quite faint and continues to erode. And it is sad to hear that a paparazzo earns much more than a good well-respected journalist.
The news media today should revisit their responsibilities. Instead of giving celebrity-like status and journalist-like appearance to gossip programs like Nancy Grace and Wolf Blitzer, these news media should focus on more responsible and critical commentary. Why are Nancy Grace’s newly born twins paraded on CNN? In which manner is that news? Or why do we need to know about XYZ’s kidney stone?
Maybe its worth taking a note why we prefer Jon Stewart over Anderson Cooper.