dear fellow students of storytelling,
thank you for visiting
I seek your opinions on a media/journalism issue:
Please make comments on this post.
Below are links to the source articles.
Time is tight: and if you’d prefer to skip the reading and
comment ‘in principle’ from the précis below that is OK.
(But if you have the time, it’s an intriguing cycle).
When I have received and clarified your comments, I will synthesise
them into the assignment on another blog.
Almost an aggregation in itself, ja?
The Journalism Issue
Recently the SMH Good Weekend magazine featured a story called ‘Cry, my father’s country.’
The author is freelance journalist Chris Ray. He told of a recent visit by Sydney Journalism student, Reme Sakr, to her father in his Druze homeland, in Syria. She was hoping to convince him to return to Australia. The story is well written, strengthened by vignettes of Syrian life and Sakr’s own childhood memories. The photos illustrate and challenge. It’s style and delivery are typical of Good Weekend and it’s audience offerings (my judgement: educated, broad world-view, not tabloid).
Media Watch took exception to the report: Ray should have disclosed that Sakr was a spokesperson and organiser with Hands Off Syria, and her visit to Syria was mostly concerned with a ‘solidarity’ delegation of Hands Off Syria, Wikileaks and Australian academics to the Syrian government. This mission itself – despite it’s stated aim of being motivated only by the need for communication – received condemnation in Australia, with suggestions that they were dealing with the proven villains of the Syrian conflict.
Chris Ray felt that Media Watch overlooked valid points. His response letter is published on the MediaWatch site.
The Media Watch critique could be seen to be judging Sakr – the subject of the story – rather than the journalist or the publisher. Sakr tried to respond, but Media Watch relegated her (edited) email to the general comments, instead of publishing the letter as they would those of a journalist or media organisation. They were also criticised for stating that President Assad is a war criminal, proved by UN reports. The critics of MW cited UN and other independent reports that showed this to be untrue.
So my questions, for you, dear respondents, concern ethics,
courses of action, decisions, consequences
I invite you to make any comment.
My story grows from your forum like a seedling from dirt.
In the nicest way!
If you like, here are some key words, phrases, points of view:
* Ethical conduct, verification, fact-checking, right of reply, playing the ball, not the man, cultural dimensions, ethnic sensibility, brother’s keeper, apology, clarification, freedom of opinion, democracy
* A freelance journalist with an interest in the middle east pitches a story idea to major newspapers and receives some commissions. He pays for the trip himself and looks after his own application for access. From this he is able to generate at least five separate stories.
* He is later queried about the story by a ‘watch dog’ media show, and answers all questions. The watch-dog goes to air alleging ‘irregularities’ and bias.
* The subject of the story seems to cop the criticism just as badly as the journalist. This isn’t the brief of the show…
* Was is a bad idea not to include a description of why the readers might already have known the subject?
* Or is the story about people?
The spark for the Media Watch flame.
(Media Watch take exception to the story, or it’s telling)
Journalist Chris Ray’s first response to Media Watch (before transmission)
Chris Ray’s follow up to Media Watch (after transmission)