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Monday, November 01, 2010

News Analysis, Electronic Media and Journalistic Integrity

News Analysis

Journalism is a vast field. I wish to examine a sub-genre called News Analysis. Good Analysis demands objectivity and fairness in reporting. In brief, be truthful and factual. While complete objectivity is not entirely possible to achieve, good analysts (and journalists) recognise it by being open, by being fair and by being guided by their conscience.

A good host or anchor wears many hats simultaneously. S/he has to be a good listener, a sharp analyst, a diligent investigator, fair and balanced and above all, given the time constraints, should be quick on foot.

When reporting or interviewing, they stick to facts, research them diligently, offer insights, counter points and counter-claims with references to balance the assertions and claims of the interviewee or the guests and are quick to explore misuse of facts and the biases, tilts and spins of their subjects or guests.

Electronic Media

The electronic media in India and Pakistan are still very much in their infancy. The anchors and reporters have still a long way to go. With some, one can see the influence of print media. They repeat incessantly - oft times repeating verbatim nanoseconds later what their guests had just uttered.

They speak on TV as if they were on radio - or worse - in a classroom. The anchors discuss subjects with their expert guests on which their knowledge is scant or non existent and oft times their homework is shoddy or non-existent.

The elements of journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel

  1. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth.
  2. Its first loyalty is to the citizens.
  3. Its essence is discipline of verification.
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting, and relevant.
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.
  10. It must protect and enhance the rights and responsibilities of citizen

Should networks and their anchors be neutral?

It is not possible to be entirely neutral. We see with our eyes and hear with our ears. The moment we hear we, our, I, me — the neutrality is gone the way of Dodo bird.

We bring our personal take, our prejudices, our slant into what we say or write. While this is largely and universally true and applicable to the bloggers, netjournos and the media world over, the best in the media stand out because they try harder. They make that extra effort to compensate for their inherent shortcomings by listening fairly to the other view point, by being diligent in their research, by being fair in their comments and analysis.

Not every network or media person fits this portrayal. That is where one can sift between the wheat and the chaff - between the genuine and the erstaz - between the authentic and the wannabee - between the fair and the agenda driven media person.

The best in the media see the issues and persons as coins - they examine the contours, shape, metal, markings and symbols discernible on the coin - and - they also examine the other side of the coin similarly. And they try to do so with utmost fairness and integrity.


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