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Journalism and propaganda: Falling into the dragnet of politicians.

March 2, 2009

 

Journalism and propaganda: Consciously and unconsciously falling into the dragnet of politicians

 

In communication, we always want to drive home meaning in what we say. Be it business

communication, development communication, political communication, international communication or simply put Communication. Journalism is an art embodied in communication and as a matter of fact, those who practise it often master the elements of the various but inexhaustive forms of communication mentioned above. Additionally, for journalism to be distinguished, it has to respect the principles of being balance, fair, not subjective, researched, unambiguous etc.

 

We just finished a course titled War and Peace Journalism and think I should share with my readers my opinion, on what I have heard watched and read with amazement done by some journalists in relation to war and peace.

 

 

In brief, while Peace journalism is when journalists cover and report events in a way that suggests or provides non violent means to resolving any conflict, War Journalism is the when journalists cover and report in a way that provokes violence, hatred, conflict and other vices. They mostly do this through instigating direct or indirect division among people or through the use of propaganda.

 

 

In my opinion, war journalism is not limited to covering or reporting war. NO. Reports in areas of peace may provoke war and in some cases, reports in post war situations have reignited conflict and in cases of ongoing war or conflict, aggravated the situation.

 

 

My worry has been the choice of words, phrases and angles chosen by journalists in the coverage of events in the world today. Everybody has a right to his choice though.

 

However, there are certain words which many journalists have adopted and using them as common journalistic parlance whereas, these are words or concepts created by politicians, war mongers, imperialist, dictators, racists and unfortunately, “forced” them into our daily jargon.

They have then become normal words, not necessarily because we like them, but, because, many media have adopted them either consciously and unconsciously. They are used so frequently and often without attribution. As a result, many of us have reduced ourselves to acting as the mouth pieces of some world leaders.

 

Considering the power of the media, the continuous usage of those words have shaped public opinion, thinking and reactions. As a result, a great part of the population then turn to see see things from the angle of the politicians.

 

 

These words which are not exhaustive include “ dictator”, “international community”, “depleted uranium, “collateral damage”, “we are investigating”, “aide”, tyrants, “war on terror”, “war of liberation” “terrorists etc. These words or phrases are created by politicians who have their agenda. It has become a tactic.

 

How comes that a journalist during prime time news cast, bluntly calls a sovereign and democratically elected head of state, “dictator”, without any attribution. Who is a dictator and who is not. Who is a tyrant and who is not. Is a tyrant limited to so called dictators or people allegedly democratically elected but who through out their stay in power have caused havoc, disrespected international conventions and declarations, over thrown regimes, set confusion and initiated the imposition of sanctions on weaker nations. I do not want to accused any particular media here but I have abundant examples if need be to name them.

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Depleted Uranium”: Uranium is used among other things to manufacture nuclear weapons. Substances of the deadly chemical have been used against civilians and war mongers created the word “depleted uranium” to kind of simplify the impact of such weapons and give the impression that their use is not bad. If at all uranium was depleted while even use it? These words should be used with a lot of caution, attribution or even avoided by media men and women.

 

 

International community: This is quasi inexistent but for the exception of the General Assembly of the UN which can said to represent international community to an extent. NOT the Security Council. But when some “rich” or powerful nations and their allies group for their economic, political and military interests but claim to speak for the international community, it a pity that journalists often refer to them as the international community. Most of us have adopted it without question. Where is the critical mind then?

 

Journalists ought to defend their profession not the interest or the will of their political masters. But again, I understand that due to heavy commercial, geo political interests in the world today, real journalism has almost been buried for public relations. The only difference is that some media organs really master the arts of mixing public relations, propaganda and journalism so much so that the common man has been unable to draw the lines among them.

 

 

These very so called global or big media organs are the ones moving here and there claiming to be organising refresher courses on journalism. Are they doing it because they have the logistics and financial means or really because they have any extra or great knowledge of the noble profession?

 

 

A true journalist must not only be contented in announcing events or quoting leaders. A real journalist is not only he who attends all world conferences. He is not only the one who is on every scene covering war and conflict. It is he who has that critical mind to read the news behind human actions and events in general and reveal them to the world. Such a journalist must be able to read meaning behind all the statements and issues. That is news behind the news.

 

 

As a journalist, I am not just contented on reporting events. I am also very much more concern on how my reporting has help move the world forward in a positive direction. That will be my legacy as a journalist, development communicator.

 

It is but normal that any journalist who brings innovation to mainstream journalism is called an activist. That notwithstanding, it is not necessarily following the chorus that makes us good. Journalists basically inform, educate and entertain.

 

If in trying to meet these three basic aims any journalist has not been able to bring about any positive development, then, he has to review his approach.

In an era of the revolution of information technology and where any person can pass for a journalist by simply posting anything online, in newspaper or so, true journalist must make the difference.

 

I do understand that the editorial policies of some media organs may be a big hindrance to effective journalism.

 

 

I understand most journalists as individuals, are victims of the so called political correctness. What is described or prescribed by a political regime or by an editorial policy of a media organ for which he/she works, greatly determines what he/she writes or broadcast. What is your take then?

 

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Interesting write up. What is war reporting and does it differ from war journalism? Language use is subjective and necessarily biased. Within a wider vocabulary available at your disposal, you choose to use one word instead of another.That selection is informed by your position in society as well as your life experiences.That is why one person's dictator is another person's freedom fighter.You write:"As a journalist, I am not just contented on reporting events. I am also very much more concern on how my reporting has help move the world forward in a positive direction. That will be my legacy as a journalist, development communicator."If you assume an advocacy role in the conduct of your job as a journalist, how is your output any different from propaganda?

well thought out opinions, although some of your opinions are too tough with risk of self destruction. Keep it up. Denis

If you actually know pretty much nothing about depleted uranium, why mention it at all? Is it somehow de rigeur to throw out a far fetched claim about DU? If your readers actually want to learn something of the actual science, then go to www.depletedcranium.com and if you would like to learn more about what international scientists have to say about DU, radiation, etc., then go to http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/DUStory/message/88 where there are links to dozens of other sites with solid information.RogerDUStory-owner@yahoogroups.com

Nice writing Agendia!The problems, you have highlighted, faced to the journalist, i agreed with but we have a line of diffrence.as far as PJ is concerned, i think their is a slight diffrece in understanding the term. for academia the term PJ means a diffrent way of writing and even looking diffrently to the conflict. emphasizing the journalist to play a role as peacemaker in a conflict or during their professional work.this is the line where researchers and professionals takes diffrent ways. for a journalist it is not possible to play any role in conflict solving directly if he/she does they will no longer be knowned as journalist. yes, they can play a vital role for peace in their reporting. the way how they report and for this journalist dont need to be called peace journalist or else. the only thing which is needed, writing with the intention that leads to peace. this is what journalist has forgotten. today journalist are running after "Breaking News" a bomb blast is a super lead and braking news but in peace agrrement they will try to find out the flaws. this is what happned with Oslo accord, Camp Davis peace agreement, agreements with Taliban and many more.the question of making the choices "what to report" will completely change the discourse of journalism if it happened that journalism will be every thing but not anymore journalim. i do agree, with the question "how to report". journalists has the power to change public opinion not necessiroly making propaganda or running a PR campaign but reporting the facts without filtering any news. giving space to all actors and making a choice in the selection of words but not in the selection of news. here question comes, what a journalist will do with statements. (continue)



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