Post number 2.
This one is about what Journalism means to me. This is also the letter which got me into Journalism 3, so I’d like to think its pretty convincing.
What does Journalism mean to me?
I have become a firm believer in the Chaos Theory. Although the selection committee maybe familiar with the concept, I would like to highlight Journalism’s role in the way it affects the world.
Society is a complex system, where even the slightest of changes – read “the flap of a butterfly’s wings” – can have unprecedented but calculated consequences. The media can either be in the center of the web-like system, feeling the vibration of every minor change, or be a distant but vocal observer of the activities within. Our profession is flexible like that. Journalism stands as the voice of society – the voice maybe good or bad, but it is always heard – a refuge for stories to carve out their place in history.
Journalism is that which captures the first flap of the butterfly’s wings. It recounts that which stands at the root of every historic change, social ill, national victory, and political downfall. Journalism follows the progress of every known chain of action, every minute decision which imposes epic consequences, and prompts readers to think. It maybe trivial, it may be uncomfortable, or it may just be status-quo-challenging and rise as a new philosophy of life. Whatever it brings, Journalism is the presence of independent thought in a collective, and often this independent thought is the primary source of change in society. As Sir Tom Stoppard, a British playwright and screenwriter says “I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.”
Journalism, as much as it aims to remain objective, is still a human(e) profession: we also aim to uphold basic freedoms of expression and information which contribute to the common good of society. We have the power to capture history, a daily occurrence, with our words, lens, film, and voice; and with this power come two things. First, a legacy which future journalists can build on, and second we carry the mandatory responsibility of ethical reporting. Among the many inspiring examples of journalism which changed the world, my favorite is the reporting of the US presidential campaign in 2008. As a primary school student I had little interest in news, and the least interest in global politics, but it was the journalism (and Barack Obama’s uncharted levels of charisma) during that time which had me follow every article and YouTube link I could find the time to click. The words had me hooked onto the points by which he was winning, the public reactions of the caucuses, the contents of every speech and answer the man delivered, and conviction with which journalists were taking sides. I never knew of journalistic objectivism at age 12, but I could see that every writer, photographer, cameraman, and presenter wanted this one man to lead what is still arguably the most powerful country. It was then, on 20 January 2009 as Senator Barack Obama was sworn in, that I realised that I wanted to be more than just a witness to historic moments. It was on that day that I chose to be more informed about the world around me, the harsh truths about realities of first world and developing countries which surrounded me, and the inspiration my work can provide for readers to think about the world we share in an objective, morally well-positioned point of view.
Christopher Morley, a renowned contributor to American journalism and literature, rightly says “One of the most valuable philosophical features of journalism is that it realizes that truth is not a solid but a fluid.” As journalists, as objective as we may want to remain, we tend to provide only one side of the multiple truths and justifications which exist. Society and its actions are a complex web of interactions, and following just one string of it doesn’t mean the entire web has been presented; whether it’s about science and technology or about the current Government, truth is relative so the angle we present as journalists may not be the same lens with which the entire public sees it with.
Journalism provides the opportunity to be a chronicler of history. And through this profession I will be able to provide voices for the people from all walks of life. It is vital that people are encouraged to think about facing social challenges and solving problems because they wanted to do so, because no one can achieve collective good when there are impositions on how to think and act towards a pressing social challenge. Through this profession I will be able to shape the next generation’s interests and priorities using journalism as a fuel for independent thought* focused towards a collective good.
This is what journalism is to me. A chance to contribute to the tireless recording of human history, chronicle the minor causes and the major consequences of these events, a chance to engage critically and creatively with current social challenges facing the youth, a chance to inform others as much as I am informed through the profession that captures and presents the essence of freedom.
*A passion for independent thought is usually considered a tad dangerous, partly because it cannot be controlled by others but I like to think its mostly because those who have it tend to see the world for what it truly is. Every profession prioritizes the world in their own mildly annoying, unique way and Journalism is no different – just that we have the opportunity to look at more than only our perspective on things.
We’re cool that way.
Image source: http://gijn.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/2015/05/Donnelly_small.jpg
Also read about Azerbaijan’s famous investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, whose story was told in PEN Centre’s Cartoon Tribute: http://gijn.org/2015/05/12/ismayilovas-plight-told-in-pen-american-centers-cartoon-tribute/