Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Journalism Story

The Standard....a Austrian news publication....put out an interesting piece.  The Press Council of Austria....which is a club of sorts for all members of the press....to hang out, establishing new trends in news reporting....has come to produce an odd checklist.  It's a checklist suggesting the way that you report on refugee stories.

What is contained within this is the idea that news stories are emotional and filled with controversial themes.  The public reacts to the way that you write the story.  So, you before you write this....you should ask some questions:

- "Would I report on a misconduct even if it was not set by a foreigner / asylum seeker / migrant?"

- "Have I researched the subject sufficiently, my sources go beyond mere (Internet) rumors?"

- "Have I presented those facts that are necessary for a comprehensive and balanced presentation of my subject?"

- "Have I checked whether my reporting / my word choice / my photo selection prejudices are reinforced?"

- "Have I examined whether I can omit information that might stir up prejudices without altering the meaning and truthfulness of the story or affecting the understanding of the readers?"

- "Have I checked whether certain information does not counteract other intentions (eg no mention of origin, but naming a first name for a foreigner)?"

- "Did I consider whether my reporting / my word choice / my photo selection someone could be offended or offended?"

- "Am I aware of the intentions of my guides / research sources?"

- "Can I open an Internet forum on the subject without fear of the discussion being derailed?"

-  "Am I certain that I have no extra-journalistic reasons to take up this issue?"

(source: Standard, APA, 29.11.2016)

The thing is....after you examine these ten questions....why limit it to only immigration and refugee stories?  Why not ask myself about the intentions of political insiders passing me stories for publication?  Why not think about the photo of foreign leaders that I might use and why it might be a very unflattering picture?  Might I tell an woeful economic story which would stir up anger with the general public?

Then I come to this curious question at the end of this piece....can I tell a story that won't be derailed by the general public and revamped into an entirely different discussion.  Yeah....you built a story to focus on one single story and one single discussion, and oddly....some lobby group, focus group, or just one single individual takes your story and asks another question of a different variety?  If you have such an irrational fear....then don't write a story.

Fake news?  No.  The source is at the top and embedded.  You can read the story yourself.

If you were a junior reporter in Austria, then your boss would bring to the pub after work.....read off the ten questions, and give you a brief summary of what you should or should not write. You'd look at this and just figure....why bother writing a single story on refugees....positive or negative....because it'll just bring in three or four peer reviews on a story and make this into a time-consuming process.  Just write about beer, horse-racing, fancy fashion trends, and ski-trips to Italy.  Make it simple.

All of this will simply make a normal guy look at any story told, and ask if filters were used to lessen the story.  Did you get the full story, or did some guy use the 10-question filter to remove half the information? It's a sad trend, if you ask me....but a sign of the times.

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