Rabat - In order to define what comprises a good journalist, one must know what poor journalism is. But, by the same token, in order to define bad journalism, we must return to what makes journalism "good."
Rabat – In order to define what comprises a good journalist, one must know what poor journalism is. But, by the same token, in order to define bad journalism, we must return to what makes journalism “good.”
A simple behavior distinguishes the two. In interviews, one may observe journalists asking questions they already know the answer to, or they neglect listening to the response to a question, focusing more on preparing for their next question. However, this is not to say that journalists do not engage in research and fieldwork. So what kind of questions are journalists allowed to ask? According to Blandine Milcent, a French correspondent in Germany, “Certainly you can ask all the questions, except questions where the answers are obvious.”
For Hervé Deguine, representing Reporters Without Borders, a good journalist is a curious person, hardworking, passionate, impartial, attentive, and educated with several degrees. To this last point, some question the worth of studying at a journalism school? Although many see the value of a classroom-educated journalist, some see journalists trained at journalism schools as a mere standardization process whereby the business of writing news becomes shallow and stale rather than pushing for the hard, meaningful questions. Robert Ménard, journalist, politician, and founder of the French association Reporters Without Borders, agrees with the latter point. Ménard did not study journalism formally at school and advises future reporters to follow suit. “Do not study at an institute of journalism because there you will meet young people from the same background as you, who think like you, who love the same movies as you. This will prevent you from entering the single thought of the ‘camp of the good,’” he stated in an interview with StreetPress.
There are many examples of “good” and “bad” journalists. However, the concept of a good professional journalist and a “professionally” bad journalist does not exist. Indeed, in our modern world nothing is all good or all bad.
Other categories of journalists exist who ride the line between good and bad reporting. As an example, the “electronized” journalists, those who take what is already written by other electronic media sources or posted on Facebook without verifying the information, is a group worthy of study. Since the primary school, we have learned that the Internet is a double-edged sword. While some say it is a key tool for inquiry, others believe that the Internet guides the user toward only one answer. In this context, two leading researchers dispute the theory. Dominique Wolton, research director at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, believes the technique of relying on the Internet alone for information leads to anxiety or isolation; the researcher McLuhan believes the Internet has an influence on the media, transforming the world into a global village without distinction or uniqueness.
No matter the vision we may have, the point is we can not decide who is a “good” or a “bad” journalist. One cannot criticize an individual without criticizing content, and the content of an article does not necessarily reflect on the quality of the reporter writing an article or interviewing a subject.
It would be wrong to think that there are only absolutes in this world, and we must acknowledge that reporters are humans, not robots. In the end, there simply is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” journalist.
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