A need for nuance in reporting

The media and most often the national press are a constant feature of conversations which delve into what is wrong with modern society.

Reporters are seen as a product of white suburbia whose privileged upbringings are so far removed from the lives of ordinary folk that bias and misinformation flows from every sinew of their being.

More often then not those, whose communities, rituals and lives deviate from the prosaic middle-England template bear the brunt of generalisations, inaccuracies and blatant lies in the reporting of their affairs.

What right have they (reporters) to cast their postulates and prejudices on others?, are one amongst many rebuttals. Racism, bigotry and more recently Islamophobia are the favoured labels which are routinely mentioned in attempting to make sense of the vitriol.

After a year at journalism school from which some of my peers will become the next wave of reporters that break the news, I know that such simple aspersions are not always correct.

Instead we may want to look at the inherent nature of what makes reporting different from other forms of writing and mass information. More profoundly where exactly does nuance come into it or does it even?

The American humorist Finley Peter Dunne once said that; “a newspaper comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” In other words there is a good guy and a bad guy and we are on the side of the good guy.

This narrative of good and bad has made journalism and reporting a domain where the requirement of nuance it seems is not required. Any hint of it is seen as irrelevant and convoluting the simplistic narrative that the readers want.

The ‘want of the readers’ is problematic concept in itself but given that journalists are so often responsible in setting the agenda for debate perhaps the time is nigh for a change in output.

Reading the news it seems is no longer a way to keep abreast of world events or even entertainment. The twitter age of live debate has made news a weapon to prove any range of given views and biases.

Links are thrown about like grenades to provide evidence for even the most extreme and disingenuous of positions.

The rise of the far right and their successes in the mainstream has been accompanied by a constant use of news reports to entrench their positions. Abuse of every unimaginable kind is meted out about certain communities and towards some personalities, accompanied by a news link which provides the facade of respectability.

Given that modern Britain is no longer the exclusive domain of any one race or belief perhaps the time for the good versus bad should also be laid to rest.

A more diverse society with a multitude of beliefs requires a more contextualised news agenda so the work of reporters and journalists is not so easily used by those wishing to satisfy their prejudices.

Given that many journalists are prone to seeing themselves as a vital cog in the wheel of truth and democracy they should not be too reluctant in using a little nuance in their work.

The most recent piece of polemic that is the Trojan Horse fiasco in Birmingham is an example of what is blighting reporting today.

Some may hail it as great success of contemporary reporting, but as the following piece by Assed Baig suggests not all is as it seems. Much of the hysteria falls at the lap of those who decided to break a story without any regards for the evidence and without any concern for the context in which it is alleged to have played out.

In true comic book narrative the enemy has been identified and his only purpose is to reek havoc in the lives of the innocent who now need saviours, the journalist being the first among them.

It is fair to say that as society has increasingly diversified in its ethnic and religious makeup and the once strange has become more mainstream, methods of reporting have stood still.

The online battle for clicks and readership has exacerbated the problem further in creating ever more shocking headlines however far removed from the actual story they may be.

This is strange only in that the online platform as well as broadcast is perhaps a more ideal medium in rectifying the problems that come about through limited space on print pages.

Journalists may at present be protected by their self defined role as guardians of free speech but it is not irrational for those constantly a target of polemic to begin treating them as political or ideological enemies.

People and communities are not asking for favouritism just some honest and intelligent observation and consideration.

These are not so much high minded ideals but ones reporters should not be afraid to adhere to.

Perhaps then the media would be at the forefront of conversations that speak of hope and good in the world.


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