Impartiality

29 Nov

For me, morning classes are usually hard to get through, but not when it is Foreign News Reporting class. Every week, with home-made coffee on the table, I would sit back to listen to talks on various international issues. The classes were like “quick tour around the world”. Perhaps due to my limited world-news knowledge, every session is mind-boggling experience.

There was Ehab’s quick tour into political Islam’s history. It was very fast and confusing, but at least I knew that Islam had a complex history leading to a complex future. It was followed Zahera’s explanation on how unbalanced western reporting on Middle East conflict. It was shocking that bias in reporting still happened to the people who had enjoyed free-press for so long. Then Graham Watts gave an insightful view into the world financial history. Howard put the rise of China and oil market into perspective in many international events. There was a lady talked about her experience as embedded journalist in Iraq. Everyone seemed to have awesome stories to tell.

But the one I can relate to was the talk by Dukagjin Gorani, a Bosnian Kosovan journalist. He talked about how he reported war in Kosovo. He posed the question “Warfare territory is a unbalance society. In Kosovo war, it was a war against civilians. How to report on such a war?” He said he reported it unbalancely; based on his moral judgement, he sided the civilians. He went to places where killings happened, where houses burnt, where there were violence to report on them. His purpose was for the world to see what happened and to influence them to stop the violence. The media collective work did achieve the goal; finally Nato ended the war with bombings.

So the big question is: “Is it the right thing to do?” Many people have the view that journalists should be impartial; journalist must see journalism as a job and just report what they see. But as we all know, journalists must analyse what they see. In analysis, is it possible not to prefer one to the other. And, is being impartial is really the right thing to do? And say, journalists did not follow the agenda of pressing the Nato to act, how many more lives would have been lost?

I have been wondering about this impartial concept since Sara told the class about it. I thought it was a good concept, but…I was not convinced. Say, if I see someone being bullied. As journalist, I can go to interview the bully and the bullied. The bully may have his reason, perhaps because he felt like bullying. While we know that it was a valid (from psychology point of view) but unreasonable reason, do we still say, “Yeah yeah…this bully has a reason which is this.” The readers may read and commented ,”What a stupid reason.” and that’s all.

On the other hand, if I keep reporting the bullied and being nice to him, people may think that I said what I said because I am his friend. The impartiality will be under scrutiny. And how to know if that is the right thing to do anyway. What a difficult choice to make. 

This time what Howard said seemed reasonable to me. He said: “Ligitimacy of a point of view doesn’t imply equivalent value.” He was content as long as there was commitment to quality journalism. I think in some situations, it is just not about impartiality. Well, at the end of the day, all that can be done is to be as knowledgable as possible to arrive at sound judgement, and pray hard that it is indeed the right choice to make.

If you show people the problems and show people the solutions they will be moved to act – Bill Gates during Live 8

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5 Responses to “Impartiality”

  1. isadikin November 30, 2006 at 5:08 am #

    when you must choose your side, always remember:
    people’s good is the highest law.
    kosovo people saved by nato and tat is the right thing to do 🙂

  2. Will November 30, 2006 at 3:40 pm #

    And a little correction: Dugi is from Kosovo, not from Bosnia. 😉

  3. mariani November 30, 2006 at 5:54 pm #

    Hahaha.thanks for the correction.

  4. braveman December 1, 2006 at 10:49 pm #

    hi Mari
    http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

    that’s what I joined last year
    have a look 🙂

  5. mariani December 6, 2006 at 11:01 pm #

    Hahaha..thanks vicky!

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