By Tarik Elbarakah
By Tarik Elbarakah
Morocco World News
Agadir, Morocco, December 29, 2012
Every person has the right to speak and tells whatever s/he perceives it would summarize a particular state of mind. At that phase, opinions might differ and take various shapes according to situations in which they occur. At times, we seem to be willing to agree with a given idea. Mainly, if it comes within a framework that respects for instance our beliefs, political leanings, cultural background and moral code. In the other hand, we tend to disagree every so often whenever we feel that one of the “elements” mentioned earlier are somehow infringed.
Yet, Journalists belong to those who defend freedom of speech but actually don’t do any. Their “holy” code of ethics implies something that they call “Objectivity,” which to them, is a standard to professional journalistic work. Basically, in the minds of journalists, to be objective means to be impartial and unbiased. But the very idea of objectivity is biased in itself; it is biased against “independent thinking!”
The growing popularity of the so-called “objectivity” rose in the early twentieth century. During this period of history, the scientific method was dominating and it flourished as the “proper tool” with which to discover and understand reality. Thus, journalism, was by some means “contaminated” by science’s “imperialist” ambitions – as the case of other branches of knowledge mostly humanities – and since that time journalism has become all about objectivity.
Journalists’ creativity and imagination were pushed aside and replaced by retrievable facts. The entire business went from “intellectual into something more technical” overwhelmed by empirical details and a staggering belief of the existence of “reality.” By the name of objectivity journalists have become according to James Carey’s (1) terminology a “passive” link between sources and audiences, nothing more than a group of “translators” with a capacity to decode the “specialized language” of sources into a more comprehensible language for the masses.
An average reader of the media landscape would say that “objectivity” is a positive thing which does enable journalists to report stories with fairness and veracity regardless of any prior stereotype or personal interference of emotions and human feelings. To some extent, that saying might have a fraction of truth in it. Objectivity has close ties with responsibility, which is the essence of this whole industry. It is that pledge to the supremacy of accuracy and genuineness, to dig deeper than anyone and get the story that has an impact on society. However – and I’m sure you could see a “but” coming- I do think objectivity turned news into something journalists are “compelled to report and not something they are responsible for creating.”
Before being the “guardian of truth,” a journalist is a human being. The latter interacts with the surrounding environment positively and actively. S/he is not a morally disengaged or politically inactive but instead, a keen person looking forward for the welfare of his/her society or community. Journalists now believe that news is “out there” just waiting to be exposed or at least gathered. They’ve become “pseudo citizens,” the last thing they would ever think of is to be a part of the emergence of their society.
As politicians now are more aware of the importance of creating their own “lead” and releasing their own version of the story, journalists also need to “shake off” their old status and create their own lead this time. We’re not holding journalists accountable for the consequences of their actions until news is their creation.
(1): a communication theorist and media cretic at the University of Columbia.
Reliable sources: Theodore L. Glasser, Objectivity precludes Responsibility. The Quill, Feb., 1984.