Friday, January 19, 2007

The Eyes Of Journalist & The Face Of Journalism

When we wake up in the morning, we open our eyes and face the world. Unknown to all of us, the hands of journalists, though unseen, are actually constantly feeding us with information. In this age of technology, their invisible hands weave a substantial and tangible web of conscience and consciousness.

Regardless of whether one accepts or rejects this 'web', it is very much evident and present around all of us in our daily lives - the video clips of terrorism on TV, the reports of massacres in the papers, the untold sufferings of the war victims aired from the radio, short message news-clips sent to cellphones...and the list goes on. Time passes on and history is written anew everyday.

However, as one receives more and more of these human elements of emotions and living episodes, the lesser one feels and sensitizes about them. As much as he or she tries to be passionate, excited or even compassionate about them, the feelings is somewhat lost along the trail of time and tide. Why is that so?

Dr. Daisaku Ikeda speaks of the problem "moral numbing" in his 2002 peace proposal entitled "The Humanism of the Middle Way: Dawn of Global Civilization". He elaborated by saying this, "I am deeply concerned by the dehumanizing nature of aerial bombardment. While one side experiences virtually no casualties, the other is devastated to an unknown, yet clearly enormous, degree. One cannot but fear the extent to which this approach provokes numbed insensitivity to the human experience of living and dying, pushing the spiritual dimension far out of sight...With modern warfare and state-of-the-art weapons, there is no opportunity to see or even imagine how the Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, like their Russian counterparts of the past, might have run in a futile effort to escape destruction. Do we still possess enough imagination, enough sensitivity to life, to appreciate in some measure what von Seeckt meant by a 'miserable defeat of the human spirit'?"

True to his words, against this background of terrorism and counter-attack in the name of defence, the world indeed has 'grown alarmingly accustomed' to the news reports made on TV, Internet, radio or even via short messages through cellphones. Instead of possessing the ability to capture the words and translate them into vivid images, outlining the features of the war-worn faces of the men and women, and colouring the emotional snapshots with their inner pool of human sentiments, humans are now lost trying to figure out how they should respond to those traumatic news of war, tragedies of nature or the tumultuous change of events happening in the world, in the blink of an eye. Too fast is the pace of our modern day's society to want to progress, and too many hedonistic indulgences have been erected for the sake of humans' entertainment. In the whirlpool of enjoyments and thrills, human beings somehow have lost touch with their inner conscientious voices, a common language spoken amongst all fellow human beings.

This manifestation of 'moral numbing' is all the more enhanced by the stance journalism took - the objectivity adopted when reporting a piece of news. Thus, as Peace Scholar Randall Forsberg puts it definitively, "The nature of television news, where people report about murders and then turn to the weather, has contributed to this. There's an underlying numbing in the way that we relate to the world every day, even before you get to wartime situations." As pieces of news of all sorts of natures are being jumbled up and presented to the world in a 30 mins' segment, reducing the entire presentation to 'one of the many programmes' the channel or station is offering, all human dramas and episodes of all sentiments are minimised to just mere tell-tales, in the name of viewership and TV ratings. What could be more tragic - the fact about the sufferings of the people living in a war-torn country, or that the world cares less about the sufferings of their fellow human beings?

While a journalist's eyes are supposedly trained to be sharp, sensitive and penetrative, their faces are required by rules to be emotionless and blank. Thus we see a world divided by two elements - one side excercising logic, the other resting on emotions. So long as journalism keeps hiding away their humane, emotional and sensitive side, the world will forever not be in tune with the pain and strain evoked by the sufferings befalling on its own human kind. And the two sides of objectivity and subjectivity, marked by logic and emotion and engaged in a constant struggle with one another, will never come to rest and reconcile, forever unable to complete the face of a human man once torn apart by ideologies and dogmatic differences.


Lis of the North said...

It is indeed true that we are exposed to more and more images of death and suffering, to the extent that we become numb to it.
But what is possibly worse than this exposure is that journalists, rather than reporting the facts, now attempt to dictate to us what reaction we should be having. I am frequently shocked by the use of evocative language and tone of voice in television news reports, in particular here in France. I think I am very capable of deciding for myself what to think of an event, and I don't want a journalist to tell me that I should be angry, sad or outraged. This is not the job of the journalist, he should present the facts and this is all!

StormRider 謝|羽|豐 said...

Agree fully too Lis. Possibly another 'devilish' error committed by a few black sheeps would be the distortion of facts and figures to present the piece of news in a way which is more favourable to their paper's stance or even inclined toward certain politicians for certain goody returns and gains. Talk about 'Intellectual without Integrity'!