Worldwide there are few professional journalists of unimpeachable character allowed to write or broadcast freely, without interference, working within the commercial and government media. More disturbing however, has been the near extinction of integrity in many of the commercial news outlets based in the United States. The problem has been exacerbated on the internet with "general information" and "commentary/ opinion" sites posing as news sites.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
Words are the forerunners of conflict and of injustice. Words are the forerunners of discrimination, bigotry, persecution and hatred.
Words determine what sort of a society we are all going to share worldwide. Words either degrade our societies and civilization as a whole or uplift it. They give us nobility and dignity or debase us. They inspire us and give us hope or plunge us into the depths of depression and fear. Arrogant, foolish, insulting and careless words start wars.
All genocides and human rights violations have started with words. Words are powerful. That is why the correct use of words is so often enumerated in Holy Scriptures worldwide.
If you want to get to the truth, here are a few clues to discovering the prejudice and bias in a news story.
1. Seriously doubt (until revealed), phrases such as, "undisclosed sources," "sources close to." This is often a prelude to a propaganda campaign against someone or something.
2. Look out for the use of adjectives and adverbs. The use of words that cause a strong emotional response are a mark of unprofessional journalism. (That should be left to religious scriptures and theologians!)
Journalists who use words that describe another human being, political party, organization or movement in terms that reflect a subjective point of view are trying to sway the reader/ listener/ viewer to believe as the writer (editor, publisher, director or producer) want you to believe. Clue words are ones such as exciting, charismatic, irrational, lame, tame, fringe, cultish, ambitious, inept, Machiavellian, etc.
Ask; who says? Prove it.
Anytime, you as a listener, viewer or reader have an emotional reaction to an adverb or adjective - in other words, a word "describing" something, check to see whether that word is backed up by fact. If you are told, "He is an exciting and a charismatic leader; "- what evidence is sited for such a claim? Perhaps "he" is an exciting and charismatic leader only to a handful of co-workers or to a group of thugs. Such words may reflect only the writers' (or broadcasters') opinion or it could be the opinion of millions, but as a reader, listener or viewer you have to have proof.
3. Professional journalism is not interested in slander or gossip. Revealing the truth at the heart of public issues through the news edia is duty of the journalist and the right of the public.
The public however, has no right to news dedicated to the degradation, humiliation or bullying of another human being or a group of human beings.
If a public figure is corrupt, a professional journalist will site the evidence of corruption. If a public figure is not doing a good job, a professional journalist will site examples of laxity or incompetence.
4. No news media or journalist has the "right" toattack the personal life or personal activities of anindividual. No matter how evil a person or group has been, it is ethical to report only public facts. Public facts can be taken to court. Public facts can prosecute.
No community or country is going to collapse because of the private activities (unless illegal) of a political leader or celebrity or any other person. Printing and broadcasting unsubstantiated innuendo, slander and gossip can however, destroy the lives of innocent parents, siblings, spouses and children.
In keeping with the universal spiritual, religious and philosophical beliefs of all traditions around the world: Harming the innocent whether individuals or groups, is the greatest evil the media (or any individual, organization or government) can do.
5. Keep a healthy skepticism with regard to mediaexperts. The media is usually desperate for experts. Every time an issue comes up that must be covered, it requires far less time and work to find "commentators" and "experts" than doing hardcore investigative journalism.
One of Embraces' strongest supporters for years acted as a media "expert" for numerous corporations. This person was featured on hundreds of television shows, radio shows and interviewed in newspapers across the U.S. - regularly metamorphosing into a new type of expert to hawk a wide range of corporate products and services.
Lesson: Just about anyone can be coached into becoming an expert on anything.
WHY ISN'T THE MEDIA MORE DUTIFUL?
There are three main reasons why so little investigative journalism and thorough international journalism is done.
One -Investigative journalism is very hard work and takes a lot of time. What is the payback for an organization investing in a long-term investigation? Pride in a job well done? Dignity? Status among peers? More advertisers? Many news outlets simply have no faith in the intelligence of the public and find it is easier to pander to the "lowest common denominator." Rather than offering news, they fill their newspapers (or broadcasts) with commentary and entertainment gossip.
Two -"Commentators" and "experts" are a cheap and quick solution. It saves a newspaper or a news program from having to have journalists traveling about doing reporting. Keeping international reporters abroad is considered expensive. Utilizing local reporters internationally or trading video clips with news organizations from overseas seems to be beyond the comprehension of nearly every news organization in the United States except "World Focus" (PBS). Under Ted Turner the original CNN had extensive international reporting in the early days. During the same period, the Christian Science Monitor aired an around-the-world television news program.
Three - Public relations people do a lot of work for journalists. They write the scripts, put together press kits, write subjective fact sheets, and furnish DVD, Video or CD clips and offer paid "experts" to speak about their product, service or issue. In exchange for freely promoting a corporate product, service or issue, the media outlet often gets a new advertiser.
The bottom line as to why there is so little excellent journalism, especially with regard to global issues, usually comes down to what is easier, less expensive and brings in additional revenue. It has little to do with a sense of civic responsibility. It has even less to do with having pride in taking on a leadership role in contributing to a well informed public and ones country.
The following are just a few of the thousands of examples from worldwide scriptures emphasizing the importance of the "word."
"The superior man abides in his room. If his words are well spoken, he meets with assent at a distance of more than a thousand miles. How much more from near by! If the superior man abides in his room and his words are not well spoken, he meets with contradiction at a distance of more than a thousand miles. How much more then from near by! Words go forth from one's own person and exert their influence on men. Deeds are born close at hand and become visible far away. Words and deeds are the hinge and the bowspring of the superior man. As hinge and bowstring move, they bring honor or disgrace. " Confucious (Kung Fu) Analects
"You may neglect everything else, But be ever vigilant in restraining your tongue. Those who fail to do so meet with great trouble."
Tirukkural 127 (Tamilveda) Hindu
"He who holds back rising anger like a rolling chariot, him I call a real driver; other people are but holding the reins." "Let a man overcome anger by mildness, let him overcome evil by good; let him overcome the niggard by liberality, the liar by truth." The Dhammapada 222-223 (Buddhist)
"Speak truth in humility to all people, only then can you be a true person." Native (First) American - Lakota Proverb
For those who follow the Bible whether Jew or Christian everything starts with "The Word." "In the Beginning was The Word, and The Word was God. " (JHVH-The name of the Creator that is so powerful it is never spoken aloud.)
"Whoever of you who loves lifeand desires to see many good days, Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies." The Bible Psalm 34 12-13
" Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. ...Are you also still without understanding? Do not you see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts murder, adultery, fornication and theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man." Jesus (Christian) Bible, St. Matthew 15/10
In the Qur'an and Hadith, it is repeated over and over again; do not take oaths that you do not mean. In other words, your oath is a promise with Allah as your witness. If you break your word, you make a break between yourself and Allah. Muslims are told don't let your words be empty and meaningless, without truth. Be someone who can be counted upon. This more than anything else, is living a life emulating The Prophet because the name Mohammad means "trustworthy."
"And take not your oaths, To practice deception between yourselves. With the result that someone's foot May slip after it was Firmly planted, and ye may Have to taste the evil consequences." Qur'an - Sura 16 - Nahl (The Bee)
"They say one thing and do something else. There is no love in their hearts, and yet with their mouths they talk tall." Guru Granth Sahib - Gauri Sukhmani (Sikhism)
For further information, please view; "The Public Mind" a Public Broadcasting Series of the United States by Bill Moyers. Embrace Foundation gave Bill Moyers the Socrates Media Award for this series.
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