Tag Archives: grassroots democracy

MEDIA and Journalistic objectivity in Rebranding Prince George’s County.

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Journalistic objectivity is a significant principle of journalistic professionalism. Journalistic objectivity can refer to fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and nonpartisanship, but most often encompasses all of these qualities.

Democracy requires the active participation of citizens. Ideally, the media should keep citizens engaged in the business of governance by informing, educating and mobilizing the public. In many  democracies, Newspapers, radio have become the medium of choice, as they are less expensive and more accessible. FM and community radio have been effective instruments for promoting grassroots democracy by airing local issues, providing an alternative source of information to official channels, and reflecting ethnic and linguistic diversity. The Internet, too, can play such a role, because of its interactivity, relatively low costs of entry and freedom from state control.

To various journalist around the world, Objectivity in Journalism means different things to different people (The media house owner, the sponsors, advertisers and the journalist) To an English-speaking person it usually means something like impartial; to a political ideology it means whatever serves the party but at least dispassionate. Devoid of or unaffected by passion, emotion, or bias but the notion of political correctness has already stifled the sense of fair play as being demonstrated on our media outlets, in the cases of Washington Post, Washington Times and Washington DC media outlets, the notion that the journalist was put on earth to advance progressive causes.

Most newspapers and TV stations depend upon news agencies for their material, and the major global agencies (Agence France-Presse (formerly the Havas agency), Associated Press, Reuters and Agencia EFE) each four began with and continue to operate on a basic philosophy of providing a single objective news feed to all subscribers. That is, they do not provide separate feeds for conservative or liberal newspapers.

Yet we are still being taught in school that people are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. If you’re not in the clique (the Insider) you’re a reactionary. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, is one of the innumerable slogans of the journalism world and reporting today.

The reality, however, is that the media in new and restored democracy do not always live up to the ideal of what is right. They are hobbled by stringent laws, monopolistic ownership, and sometimes, the threat of brute force. State controls are not the only constraints. Serious reporting is difficult to sustain in competitive media markets that put a premium on the shallow and sensational.

BUT-That you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Many of us in the Reform Sasscer Movement have always been thrilled by that Gospel line ever since we knew it. That the truth can be very large, or even very small, we take as itself true. To get a few modest facts right, where they are hard to discern, because the plausible is in conflict with the actual, is the kind of aspiration that can be heroic in a journalist. And to admit the fact that contradicts all one’s assumptions is the mark of an honest man. Must a writer always be serving something? We think so. He or she is obliged, however, to think through what he or she serves.

BUT if we think that journalists are all objective, fair with no political axes to grind we are just fooling ourselves. Sometimes of course the journalist is simply a dupe, a gullible or innocent pawn of the scheming and deceit swirling behind the closed doors and frequently journalists handle information in way or in an attempt to bolster a certain position within the structure or simply for his self-importance….VANITY plays a role of significant importance on both sides, the journalist publishes information and dines out on his revelations for essentially the same reason that officials violate their oaths of confidentiality in order to be perceived as members of a know-all insiders’ elite.

As we move into the future, we would like to see the journalists operating in Prince George’s county in particular and many other parts of the world investigating more. The journalist needs to ask tough questions to Rushern Baker led administration and especially within the schools.  In many fledgling democracies, the media have been able to assert their role in buttressing and deepening democracy. Investigative reporting, which in some cases has led to the ouster of presidents and the fall of corrupt governments, has made the media an effective and credible watchdog and boosted its credibility among the public.

Investigative reporting has also helped accustom officials to an inquisitive press and helped build a culture of openness and disclosure that has made democratically elected governments more accountable. Training for journalists, manuals that arm reporters with research tools, and awards for investigative reporting have helped create a corps of independent investigative journalists in several new and restored democracies.

Otherwise,  without an engaged media as Watchdog, as guardian of the public interest, and as a conduit between governors and the governed,  future of Rebranding Prince George’s County and Maryland as a whole is doomed.

>>> Read more > Vote against longer term limits, fewer papers of record in Prince George’s.

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