MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Journalism Under Fire

https://static.kent.ac.uk/nexus/ems/116.jpgJournalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations”. George Orwell’s quote, today more than ever, remains relevant, at a time when media and control over them has become a highly controversial issue, mainly due to the ethics involved. Because, while journalism should, ideally, be objective and free of political affiliations, nowadays, the newsroom is dominated by the ominous shadow of advertising revenue. In a period when almost everything has been affected by the financial crisis, media – the people’s source of information – are searching for sources of income, while at the same time competing against social media and the plurality of free news.

How then can we distinguish the truth in what we read? And how can we dismiss ‘fake news’?

This was the topic of a very interesting discussion held in Athens in the context of the New York Times Athens Democracy Forum, hosted by the journalistic platforms Oikomedia and Hostwriter. The aim was to examine why Media have come under Suspicion and how journalism can regain public faith. Five guest speakers from international media participated: Serge Schmemann (New York Times), Philip Faigle (#D17, Zeit online), Simon Wilson (BBC Brussels), Prune Antoine (freelance journalist) and Tasos Telloglou (Skai TV/ Kathimerini).

The prevailing view, shared by many journalists and citizens alike, is that the observation of how real life unfolds is absent from many media reports today, mainly because of the rising trend of ‘opinionated journalism’. This trends sees the inclusion of a commentary, with the reporter him/herself often expressing a view on the story reported. But that is not what the role of the journalist is supposed to be, nor what the point of journalism is. It is supposed to be about the clear, undeterred, fair and objective presentation of facts that have been thoroughly researched and presented as is. Journalism is the means to make heard as many voices involved in a story as possible, and to cause, through that, the audience’s critical thought, so that citizens themselves may launch a public debate on the matter. In an era of rapid technological evolution, media outlets are perfectly positioned to become platforms promoting such active public discussion.

Instead, citizens increasingly turn against media, viewing them with suspicion and distrust and accusing them of transmitting ‘fake news’ and siding with any one political group. As such, it is not strange that, especially in Greece, citizens do not trust the media, and in fact increasingly tend to avoid the news. The 2017 annual Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for Journalism revealed that Greeks have the lowest rate globally in trusting media with only 23% (compared to, for example, 62% recorded in Finland, the highest rate). Greece is also the only country in the world that believes social media do a better job in separating fact from fiction than traditional news media (28% vs 19%). In addition, over half the respondents (57%) in Greece and Turkey are avoiding the news, compared with fewer than one in ten in Japan (6%). One of the main reasons for this ‘media avoidance’ may very well be all the ‘negative’ news constantly broadcast, regarding the economy, politics, corruption, accidents, war, bloody conflicts and terrorism attacks around the world. News that not only contribute to increasing fear and agony for a future that is already blurred, but also result in further dampening an already low morale and bad psychological state. Consequently, people prefer not to know, endorsing that ‘ignorance is bliss’.

But in all this, how much are the journalists themselves to blame? Are they not asking the right questions? Are they presenting news out of context, indeed causing misinformation? Is the need for higher revenue placing at risk not only the independence of the organism but also its credibility as a source of objective and truthful facts? Press freedom is not only about the pluralism of views, but also about their presentation as facts, without editorialisation.

Journalism should be about opening questions not answering them. The journalist’s view has no place in the story they are reporting.

Today’s need to ‘sell more copies’ and ‘record more online views’ has irreparably also affected the quality of journalism. We need to go back to basics, to remember that in order for a fact to be reported correctly, you need to experience and (re)search it as best as possible to make it easier for the reader to comprehend. And most of all, to realise that people want to read about things that concern their lives and that affect them.

There will always be a need for stories. This was broadly acknowledged at the discussion. The main issue, however, is that journalists should never stop striving for their fundamental element: objectivity. And to step away from the uniformity and unanimity that so often characterises news stories today. After all, the mind opens up when it tries to do, see and think something differently. Otherwise, it is not even worth it.

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The shape of love

hearty-bread

©Kelvin M. Knight

“Do you know how the heart symbol came to be?”  Her grandfather saw her gazing mesmerized at the unexpected shape on the sliced bread.

“There’s the belief that this drawing we use to symbolize love and all its associates is in reality two human hearts fused together as one”.

She looked at him, her eyes suddenly sparkling.

“Is that the reason we are constantly searching for our other half? To feel whole?”

“It may very well be”, he replied.

His wife came into the room. It didn’t matter how old they were, he still beamed every time he saw her.

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

When things go wrong

cat-tigerThings are bound to get rough. It’s a fact of life. Nothing is perfect all the time. There comes a moment when things will go wrong. And sometimes, too many things go wrong for too long. But like Charles R. Swindoll said, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it”.

There are days when you won’t want to get out of bed, out of fear that something (even more) terrible will happen. Days when you’re overcome by negative thoughts, when you’re convinced that someone cast a spell on you – the neighbour, the person who competes with you for a parking spot, those others who are always jealous of you but hypocritically act as if they’re happy for you. And somehow, your mood drops, you don’t feel like doing anything, seeing anyone or even getting out of the house. Because you know that when one thing goes wrong, a whole lot of others will follow. And they usually do. Something breaks that you can’t fix; your computer gives up on you; you lose your lucky charm that you’ve had for years.

They say there is a reason things happen. You just never find out what it is.

But what you need to force yourself to do is to abandon the negative thoughts. Being negative attracts negativity. And in the same sense, being positive will turn things around. Try to smile and the sun will shine a little brighter. But most of all, surround yourself people who offer more than sympathy. People who will embrace you, look out for you and persuade you that there are things in life worth being grateful for. And if something goes wrong now, it’s because something even better is on its way.

You just have to believe.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Sympathy

A road to a different view

danny-boweman-1

©Danny Bowman

They told him the difficult, winding roads, the ones less travelled are the ones that would lead him to the most beautiful destinations. To places he had never seen before, never even imagined. He decided to take the risk because he wanted some peace of mind.

It was cloudy, perhaps even preparing for rain. And the gravel was rough; he could feel his car panting. But he was determined to go on.

He could see it up ahead. Tranquility was expecting him.

It was as if an entire mountain was waiting for his arrival to show him a different perspective.

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

The world in her eyes

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/6a/5b/1f/6a5b1f5af2932b3ae2d9af3ddb9034e4--contactlens-blue-eyes.jpgThe greatest love poems are written in dark nights of silver moons glistening on shattered adolescent hearts. Out of the strongest pain come the most genuine and powerful truths.

That’s what she was reading before she came to meet you. It was what made her tears start streaming again. She was trying. Trying to go on but not wanting to without you.

You could see it in her eyes, the pupils rippling like broken glass. She avoided looking at you because it hurt too much and she didn’t want to let you see the darkness that had overtaken her soul. She didn’t want you to see that, when you left, you drained her of the life you had imbued her with. Yet, she still loved you. She wanted to tell you how much she missed you. You know you felt the same. But for some reason you were both too selfish to admit to what you truly felt.

She had vowed to herself she would melt that wall of ice you had raised around you. She was certain you were meant to be together. You had been through so much. Everyone expected you would end up together. Forever. That’s the way it should go. Instead, while everyone was taking steps forwards, you were making them backwards. Out of miscommunications and bad judgements.

She wanted the world and, in her eyes, that was you.

She still wants that. She may no longer think of you as the super-hero she pictured you would be, but she still hopes deep down you are the tramp-turned-prince she dreams of. She still wants you. But you’re too stubborn to let her in. You know that she fits so perfectly like no other in your arms. In your mind. And in your heart. Every second you let pass without telling her that you’re not thinking of her or lying that it is not true, you plunge the dagger deeper inside. Because she has realised that it is those that can cause you the greatest happiness that ultimately will cause your deepest pain.

What a heart sounds like from the inside

http://mosafernameh.com/UploadImage/lz6.jpgShe is the one who knows you better than you (admit you) know yourself. She has learnt to do so ever since you arrived. To interpret what your every frown, tear, smile means. She is the one who stays awake so you can sleep. Who goes over and beyond her abilities at times, simply to please you. Who places you above all else, even herself. She is the one who carries you inside for three quarters of a year and then outside for a lifetime. Who holds you up and teaches you how to survive, although you can’t imagine doing it without her. Who watches you often prioritise your father who may love you equally as much but did not go through the same to bring you into the world. She is the one who will help you even when you don’t ask or when you think you can manage on your own. Who always knows what to say and is somehow always right even if you don’t realise it at the time and acknowledge it in retrospect. Who no matter how much you scream at, yell at or push away, always comes back because she doesn’t know how not to. Who shows you you are never alone because her love is unconditional and endless. Who hurts twice as much when she sees you suffering and is unable to do something to relieve your pain. Who can feel you just as you can feel her too. She is the one who personifies what Mother Theresa had once said, that “in this life we can not do great things; but we can do small things with great love”. Who makes sacrifices for you but speaks nothing of them. Who you hold as a model of strength, kindness, elegance and grace. Whose shoes you tried to fill ever since you learnt how to walk on your own. Who makes you feel (helpless) like a child again when you acknowledge how much you miss her, regardless of how independent and strong you (think you) are. Who, no matter how old you are, will always be the one you call to at any time for whatever reason and she will always respond. Whose hug and smile makes every problem disappear. Who you love to surprise and shower with gifts because you know she would do the same and more for you. She is the one who is not appreciated enough but never stops caring or trying any less.

A mother’s love is the most powerful cure in the world and the greatest gift we receive. It is priceless.

Tell her you love her. It is not said often enough. Remember you’re the only one who knows what her heart sounds like from the inside.

 

* Mummy, I love you.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Priceless

Life is a journey not a destination

http://www.wns.com/Portals/0/Images/HeaderBanner/desktop/1087/53/travel_HD.jpgIn an interview, renowned architect Renzo Piano said, “when you are born in a city surrounded by water, the only thing you think about is that the water will become a path to take you away, to explore the world”. It is true. As children, we all have that feeling of wanting to discover what more is out there. You feel that your surroundings constrain you and you need to leave, to meet other places. As adults, we try to find the time and money to travel. But what we often forget is that “travel is not a reward for working; it is education for living”.

There is a saying that “we travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us” and it is certainly true that “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”.

We travel to grow. To allow our mind to grow and expand at all the new things we learn while in a different place. We find out that the world we live in is more vast that we acknowledge and that it is impossible to see it all in a lifetime.

We travel to get away. To discover new places, new people, different customs and other mentalities; but at the same time to (re)discover ourselves. We change places in the hope of finding serenity, calm and understanding when we lack it at home. With the optimism that we will rethink certain aspects and manage to find peace in a surrounding that is different to the one we see every day.  We travel to make ourselves better, in every way.

We travel to reinvent ourselves and ultimately to become richer – particularly, in the mind and soul. It is indeed better to “fill your heart with adventure not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show.  Because one thing is for sure, when you return, you are never the same person you left.

High bars

https://www.metalmulisha.com/2016/05/26/matt-buyten-trains-moto-x-step/

©Chris Tedesco

She stepped out of the train and slowly walked up to the escalator. For some reason she didn’t really want to rush like she always did. The thoughts had flooded her mind. Scenarios that may never be fulfilled. Wouldn’t it be great, she thought, if he was already there, waiting for her? But that wouldn’t happen. She already dismissed it from her mind. She walked out hurriedly heading towards the traffic lights, crossed the street, lost in her thoughts. And then she heard someone talking to her, a familiar voice that said “Honey, I’m calling you, but you won’t listen”. She turned and there he was, smiling as if nothing had been broken. He was there, waiting for her.

Now she was expecting the door to open and see him walking in. She turned her head every time a sound was heard, her heart beating faster. But it was always some stranger. Then the time came, the bells rang and she had to leave.

He didn’t come. And reality hit her hard.

Because things like that only happen in movies, not in real life.

The problem with setting the bar too high is that the higher up it is, the more it hurts when it falls.

It happens in an instance. Like the tremours of a violent earthquake during a vicious storm devastating everything in its passage.

As with everything in life, we all have expectations of how things will turn out to be. We dream and hope that it will all be realised in that idyllic way we have formulated in our head.

But they don’t always. Hardly ever. Rarely so.

Our expectations become illusions. Unfulfilled dreams of what could have been.

They say things happen for a reason. But you never truly get to find out what the reason is. You are only granted a glimpse of it when it no longer matters.

And your love becomes hate, but deep down it’s actually sorrow of time lost spent not being happy.

You end up disappointed when you realise that people don’t do for you what you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as yours.

We set the bars high because we want people to prove us wrong, that there can be those who care enough to try harder and persist. We raise our expectations in the hope of finding the people who will intensify their performance to meet them, who will do what best they can to make them a reality.  In the end, you shouldn’t be sorry for having high standards; people who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them.

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark” – Michelangelo Buonarroti

Self-inflicted wounds

http://buzzsouthafrica.com/wp-content/uploads/heartbreak.pngThey said to find someone who makes you happy. So you do. It takes time and effort and lots of heartbreak, but you do. You find that one and you start giving them all of your attention because they’re what makes you forget everything bad that’s going on in your life. They’re the first person you want to talk to in the morning and the last one before you sleep just so you can start and end your day with a smile. It sounds so great to have that someone. But it all gets so scary when you see how easily they can just leave and take all that happiness away too when they go.

And then you have to search again for that lost serenity first and foremost, before you can feel you can survive again. Because they’re still in your mind. And you still want it to be them that you talk to.

What is more, the pain of it all is hidden in everything around you, in all the things that hold a memory, a smile, a laughter, an image of a time when things were different. And you wonder if you’ll ever have that again. With that person you still feel for.

Love isn’t easy. Neither is life. It all takes effort. A lot of it. And a love that lasts. Truly and forever.

They said it would all be worth it in the end.

“The worst thing about heartbreak is that it’s a self-inflicted wound. After all, wasn’t it I who fell in love with you?” – Jessica Katoff

The meddling witch

http://images.all-free-download.com/images/graphicthumb/abstract_wave_310428.jpgShe looked grotesque. Dressed in black with straw-like hazel hair. Her hooked nose matched her raspy voice and her jagged teeth. She was a witch in all her honour. Her obsession: to meddle in people’s lives.

Just when everything seemed right, she would swoop in and cause havoc. As though shaking a perfectly straight thread and causing it to tremble. It was those tremors that caused the fights, the disagreements, and the break-ups that ensued.

You never saw her coming. Because she always chose the moments of uttermost bliss. When people believed they were finally calm and happy. When things seemed to take on the right path. That is when the witch intruded. To spoil it all.

They called her Discord.

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