MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “questions”

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.

Advertisements

Momentous breaks

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-H7bWAQ0IyHM/Uoj69h9cFBI/AAAAAAAC9ec/Lh59O0zpuAE/s1600/Pedro+%C3%81lvarez+Castell%C3%B3+-+Tutt'Art@+(7).jpgWe all need a break once in a while. A break as in a time off pretty much everything. Some time to spend for yourself, relaxing, doing what you love or nothing at all. Yet, we also very often need a break, as in an opportunity, one to demonstrate your true (cap)abilities. But also one that will prove to you that life isn’t all that bad.

We need those instances that are more than just phantom moments.

It is those times when life lights up for you and you can reciprocate with your widest smile. It is those small gestures, phrases, looks that brighten up your very existence. And it is those moments when you regain your faith in humanity. When you have your hope restored that things will get better.  When you somehow gain the courage to take risks, regardless of where they may (or may not) lead to.

It is during these momentous breaks when everything around you seems just a little bit brighter. When you feel lighter, more optimistic and somewhat happier.

But it is also during those very moments when you hope that it will not all be taken away at the next break.

When you think you know all the answers, the Universe comes and changes all the questions…” – Jorge Francisco Pinto

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Cowardice

Hope is a waking dream

Dare to dreamAlison went to bed with a dilemma: should she make the call the next day or not?

Should she appear bold enough and take the risk, her heart pounding as she dialed the number and waited for someone to respond; her throat drying up as soon as she heard the greeting at the other end of the line; and improvising whatever she needed to say, although she had already practiced it in her head so many times?

Or should she just forget about it all? If it was meant to be, they would call her themselves. Wouldn’t they?

Should she just leave it up to fate? Or should she give it a push herself? Maybe they did need a reminder. But what if they thought she was too forward by calling?

She tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep, the “what-ifs” circling in her head.

Alison managed to sleep for a couple of hours.

In the morning, the dilemma was still in her head. But in the spur of the moment, without thinking too much about it, she took the phone and dialed. All she could do now was hope.

If it worked out, great; if it didn’t, then at least she tried.

“Hope is a waking dream” – Aristotle.

The voices in your head

voices_in_head_xlargeYou know those voices in your head, the ones that appear every time you try to rationalize a decision? The ones that you picture like two tiny “you” like cartoon characters dressed like an angel and a demon standing on each of your shoulders? Those voices that either agree with you or (vulgarly) disagree with you? What? You don’t have them? Everyone does. It just depends on how much you listen to them, that you keep them alive and present. Marcia knew it well. Because she conversed daily with the voices in her head.

But it usually got her into trouble.

Like today.

Last night Alan had told her on the phone that he had something to tell her, but wouldn’t give out any more details. He said he would tell her in person today. Being a naturally very curious person, Marcia could hardly sleep all night. She kept thinking what it was that Alan wanted to tell her.

Alan was the next-door neighbor Marcia had a crush on ever since she moved in. He seemed to flirt with her every so often but Marcia had read signs so wrong in the past that she didn’t really know what to think. Unless he came straight out and blurted to her that he liked her, she would never feel certain.

But, what was it that he wanted to say to her? This is when the voices took center stage. The angel would say that he would ask her out on a date. Or he would make a romantic gesture. Or he would confess that she stole his heart from the very first look they shared. Marcia was delighted with the prospect. She could already feel her heart flutter with joy and her hands shaking with excitement.

But then, the devil took over. And he filled her with doubt and suspicion. That he already had a girlfriend and wanted to ask her to house-sit while they went away for a romantic weekend. That he wanted to tell her he was moving out. Or even worse that he was getting married and wanted to invite her. The horror. Marcia could feel the heat rise up and strike her head, just like the opposite of a brain freeze, if such a thing even existed.

She began considering what she would say in each occasion. She had to be prepared. Being caught off guard for bad news, especially when you were hoping for good ones, is the most embarrassing thing that could happen to you, according to Marcia. So, she spent the entire night and all through dawn quarreling with the voices in her head about what Alan wanted to tell her and how she would respond.

She got up today having hardly slept at all at night.

And when Alan appeared at the door all smiling and bright, Marcia was such a nervous wreck, she broke down in tears and slammed the door in his face.

Alan was dumbfounded. All he wanted to say was that the book Marcia had been expecting for weeks now had finally arrived and he had signed for it. He simply wanted to give it to her himself because he loved how her eyes lit up with the excitement of even simple things like this.

Who knew he would have been beaten by two little voices in her head?

Shrink to grow

Psychiatrist - shrinkWhen you think about it, cavemen or even people living in the middle ages must have been much happier than we are now. OK, so maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. But certainly people just a few decades ago were much better off. One piece of evidence for that is that no-one was howling the “financial crisis” jargon over the heads for what feels like forever. Another, is that they didn’t seem to have the urge to run to psychologists, psychiatrists or psychoanalysts to let out their problems.

In fact it seems that as society develops, our problems become all the more complex, intense and stressful. And for that, we need to feel that someone is on our side. Understanding and offering a helping hand, at least in the form of some advice.

Perhaps, this is the reason we often resort to ‘professional help’. Because “they would know better” and offer solutions. But in reality, all they truly offer is a chance for you to release everything that is bothering you, that is tormenting your mind, that is keeping you awake at nights. They allow you to liberate all the emotions, anger and tension that you have been suppressing for so long. And they do that by simply granting you the security that they will not judge. They are there to listen and maybe tell you what they believe will help you in finding the right solution or way forth. So, in essence, they act pretty much like a Buddha would, because the answer almost always lies within you. And in the end, you are the only one who can solve your problems.

You just need to realize what makes you so frustrated, that at times it comes out as passive-aggressive, what makes you depressed, what raises your heart pressure, what is troubling your mind and most of all, why. In this search for inner peace and answers, we all wish there was someone out there who could just provide us with all the information we need to know. But unfortunately, there isn’t. And they can’t. So we still don’t know.

Whoever your psychologist is – be it a Frasier Crane character, or more like a Charlie-type in Anger Management – these people may sit through tens of sessions a day, listening to other people’s problems and in the end they themselves may need someone to vent out on. So we could at least help them in their job and try to solve these inner riddles that are causing us to crawl up in their comfy chair in the first place.

Sometimes, the answers we seek are indeed right in front of us. We just lack the courage, the strength or even the will, to truly acknowledge them.

 

N.B. The term “shrink” is a clipping of “headshrinker”, a US slang term that simply refers to the idea that psychiatrists have the ability to reduce or “shrink” one’s mind into an understandable concept. Thereby (if I may add) helping you grow in the process.

Wanted: unpaid worker for paid job

work-for-freeWould you work for free? Of course you wouldn’t. Who would? It is a commonly accepted trend (and very much preferred) that when you deliver a service, whatever that may be, you will receive something for it in return. In the olden days it was food, clothes, equipment. Today it is paper, that kind of paper that has value though. It’s called money. And often it is considered to be worth more than the things that matter.

I belong to the group of people who believe that when you take on a job to do, you should do it well. And sometimes it is difficult to understand whether it is I who am too demanding or if it is the people today becoming stupider and lacking in common sense.

Aristotle himself had said that “pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”. Hence, doing something you love and feel passionately about would make your job more like an activity. One that, however, renders you an income at the end of the service. No matter what that may be.

But what if you find your dream job, or at least a job as close as possible to this, that would enable you to do exactly what you want, with the freedom of movement you expect, and with control over your own work? There is one catch. You will not get paid for it.

Do you accept?

Oprah Winfrey once stated that “you know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.” But in this day and age, who works voluntarily? There needs to be some sort of return for the time, energy and dedication you put into delivering work. But what if there is not? No matter how hard you work to prove yourself? Even if you do hope that the exposure will someday idealistically lead to someone discovering how good you are and calling you in for a paid position. Do you take on a job that will allow you to do the thing you love, even if that will make it hard for you to bring food to the table? Or do you settle for something less, that will however put money in your pocket?

And what if you could do a bit of both? It would allow you to engage in your passion, while at the same time being able to buy the food. The downside though is that you may not even have the time (or energy) to devour the latter.

The world is a dangerous place they say. The choices it calls you to make determine your future. And maybe somewhere out there, there are three Moirai (Fates) spinning your life thread. But the most important choice you make comes from within. Working and making a living are sometimes two different things. Wouldn’t it be great though if the hours dedicated to your job helped you live a decent life, as well as put a smile on that pretty face of yours?

Post Navigation