Through every level of journalism, from school to community to national, the core principle remains that journalism should always punch up, meaning it should always hold those in power to account.
With protests across the world supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the United States protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minnesota last week, how the media frame the news and whose perspective we choose to highlight when picking our interviewees is of the utmost importance.
Stories that focus on the inequality and oppression experienced by any group, first-hand accounts from the people directly affected by this inequality should always be prioritised. Life experiences are just as relevant and necessary as the statistics given by a “professional in the field” to giving a fully-rounded on the story.
Journalists can achieve balanced and fair reporting in a way that doesn’t frame both sides as having equal merit, when in many cases, and especially concerning minority groups protesting, there is a clear imbalance of power and focusing on that is the fair reporting to strive for.
While there are some that say “the facts don’t care about your feelings,” reporting on or including images of destruction and violence without reporting the context behind it and the parties responsible, only serves to discredit the intentions of the people protesting for change. The media need to provide this context to dispel fake reports that serve to provide justification for retaliation or violence against protestors.
Journalism faces a lot of criticism, be it from people who don’t like what is being said and attacking individual journalists, to people legitimately challenging a particular narrative. There is definitely truth in saying that the field is not perfect, and a major shortcoming is the fact the journalists we see day-to-day do not have access to certain perspectives.
While interviewing people gives them at most a limited platform, sharing the platform of a reputable news organisation so that minority groups have their voices shared and promoted effectively, should be the new norm. People can speak for themselves, and that doesn’t mean they are inherently biased on a topic that affects their community, it means that they have a particular insight into the topic. This translates to more people of colour, LGBTQ+ people and other minority groups represented in the mainstream media newsrooms and publications.
For news consumers, we encourage you to question your sources and seek out the experiences of those on the ground. Always question the motives of those commenting in support or opposition on news reports and decide where you stand on the issue.
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