This page addresses and emphasizes my interpretation and understanding of what journalism is to me and what it should aim to achieve. It also brings to your attention what I would like to accomplish as an media practitionor and journalist and also as a social scientist.
My Personal Journalistic Philosophy
Geographically, Grahamstown is a small, isolated town in the Eastern Cape. It is a city that has different historical views and cultures that exist based on what people from different backgrounds have grown to believe. Hence there is a strong and prevalent representation of heritage and culture. I have also taken note of the fact that people in this town value the platform of showcasing their culture and heritage when given the opportunity to. In a political point of view, Grahamstown is a town that is in need of attention from the political leaders as a large number of the town has been neglected in terms of infrastructure and development. Things such as natural disasters have infringed in the lives of the locals but nothing has been done to help them out as most of them are in poverty and struggle to make ends meet. Then one will find the extremely wealthy citizens of the town who just continue living their lives as happily as they know how. To a large extent, one could argue that the gap that exists between these classes of people is the fact that they stand divided by the history of the town. This is because the white/elite view the history of the town in a certain way and that opposes what the working class would deem as being the history of the place.
This then means that the audience is divided and thus I (as an audio journalist) would have to try strike the balance between the two so that no party is favoured. Glasser (1992: 176) thinks of objectivity as an ideology that is enforced on journalist to orient them into the running of the newsroom. To a certain extent, I view objectivity as a euphemistic term that is used in our journalistic field so that we follow certain criteria. A journalist is bound to produce subjective content as there comes a time where your own knowledge is the only thing that you can rely on. I’m a strong believer in the notion that creativity in journalistic works is compromised for the sake of a media company’s objectivities that just channels the audience’s chain of thought. I believe that the human mind is a very complex ‘organ’ because when faced with a predicament, the mind will try to make sense of the event presented to it by simplifying its content. In a town like Grahamstown, as a journalist, I cannot be narrow-minded and create media that only caters for the elite and neglects the working class. I have to be versatile and creative so that the work I produce does not discriminate against anyone in the town but proves to be beneficial to all. In so doing, everyone gets informed but not channelled to think in a particular way. The danger with following media house’s objectivity sometimes is the fact that the stories are always told in favour of a particular party. Thus audiences from different parties feel offended and are misled by what has been said about their counterparts. In a place such as Grahamstown, that kind of journalism will fail to inform but will instead create disagreements and misunderstandings from all angles. Therefore, I would view objectivity as giving the people the freedom of analyzing and making sense of what is presented before them. My objective will thus be to be creative with the content I produce in such a way that it incorporates all viewpoints that exist in the town. Be it historically and culturally, the media produce should educate rather than favour, inform rather than speculate. By doing so, I believe that the purpose of journalism will be accomplished. Like Glasser (1992: 176) puts it; it is my responsibility to produce and create media.
Judging from the above observation of Grahamstown, it is evident that it is a diverse town. Issues of diversity are in all areas of human life in this town. Thus I propose that the stories that should be told are ones that aim at celebrating different cultural and historical events and people of this place. In so doing, people would be made aware of all the good there is in diversity and be informed of certain issues rather that insinuating and assuming different things. The best way to cover this story is by presenting people with as much information as possible so that they can make sense of them in their heads and only then decide what they would like to absorb and discard. As a journalist, through the creativity and knowledge of journalism learnt all through university, I am at the giving end as I am expected to provide that platform of independent thinking for our audience. Informing and educating are my prime objectives.
Glasser, L. ‘Objectivity and News Bias’ in Cohen, E.D. (ed). 1992. Philosophical Issues in Journalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.