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Tuesday August 07, 2012 22:46 by Gale Vogel - Ethics in journalism.
An observational opinion on the ethics associated with journalism with relation to indymedia and other online forums. The influence of group dynamics on opinion is evident throughout internet posts. Opinion can at times be reinforced through focussed forums. Is there balance in this?
Journalism as an ideal is about finding the truth of any particular story. This involves seeking a balanced view from all parties and not focussing on any vested group. Vested groups can be of particular orientation and be comprised of like minded members. Those of like mind seek affirmation. The null effect of this is that other minds tend not to be heard. This is why the ethics of journalism must be applied thoroughly, completely and honestly.
A balanced view therefore requires that questions be asked of both the accuser and the accused. More importantly and perhaps more unfortunately it also requires that answers be provided. Often these answers are not forthcoming from the accused. Through indymedia these questions have been openly asked. There is much on indymedia claimed as fact, that these are posted in this particular forum may be considered more debate than mere journalism. However, this is a simplification of the reality. It is a debate of an accusatory kind that does in fact require balance. That 'information' requires either confirmation or contradiction using evidence. While we are perhaps convinced that the 'information' may be accurate and true, the opportunity for those to argue, confirm, contradict or explain is available. Indymedia is an open forum that allows anyone to post 'information'. This also affords the possibility of misinformation. Any simple arguing of a point may be met with criticism and even ridicule, but requires respect and listening if the truth is to be found. The open criticism apparent on the site garners fear and this fear if effective serves to silence certain opinions or orientations.
The silencing of one point of view creates imbalance. We beseech those accused to be outspoken and to answer the questions, thereby clarifying the issues raised. It is not for the purpose of confirmation that we seek answers but for the purpose of clarification. An impression that silence in the face of accusatory questioning implies guilt is perhaps a wrong one. Silence may also be viewed as fear. The openness that allows a forum of this kind to excel needs to be inviting. This expression of inclusion is needed even though the opinion of some may be unpalatable to others. Here we not only discuss opinion, we also discuss evidence. Where evidential information is highlighted, answers are most definitely needed. Public available information, through company records and institutional records often requires explanation when questioned. The absence of answers and at times the deliberate interference with the questions, especially when in the public interest may be considered concealment. In such cases it is a right to demand and to listen to answers.
I would therefore beseech all concerned with truth to be open and above all honest. It is also my belief that in order to achieve any level of truth we must be prepared to accept views at variance with our own. Acceptance is not the adoption of these views but an agreement that they may have validity. Perhaps the only sentiment that we should not accept is 'rejection'. Social rejection is the exclusion of any individual or individuals from a social group usually arising out of them being different or having different views. There is in rejection imbalance and in this an inherent absence of truth.