It’s their job to report without fear or favor
Last year, we were suddenly treated to a new form of journalism. A 21st century type of media watchdog that slapped state secrets in our face.
With its prime goal to keep governments transparent, this media body did not resonate well with all states, including the so called upholder of democracy; the US of A.
Not surprisingly, messenger Julian Assange got persecuted.
Wikileaks, as you may have guessed, is the organization. Launched in 2006, it was not until last year that Wikileaks became legendary when it spilled important and unanticipated information.
Many people, amazingly including journalists, criticized Assange’s actions as irresponsible and reckless.
I personally believe that Wikileaks represents the epitome of what true journalism is all about.
As journalists, we have a duty to be the eyes and ears of the public. It’s a calling to write or broadcast fairly what is happening, so that the public can make up its own mind.
The moment we start to ponder which news to report or not, we lose our credibility with the people we serve. We might as well change our profession.
We should be in a position to distinguish the difference between journalism and public relations (PR).
PR is concerned with maintaining a public image for businesses, organizations or high profiled people. Journalism on the other hand is all about investigating and reporting events.
It seems to me that many PR people have wandered into journalism and given it a dubious reputation.
From the above definition, it is easy to understand why Assange decided to take the route of true journalism, whereas media watchdogs such as Reporters without Borders (RSF), took the PR path.
Afraid for being beaten at its supposed objective, RSF became one of the first media bodies to criticize the work of Assange.
RSF has since its establishment protected journalists and criticized regimes.
But it also has a reputation of shielding its own interest.
RSF shows clearly that it is more of a PR organization than a media watchdog. Although they claim to defend the freedom to inform, they instead fight against such a liberty.
For example, how would the press agency, Reuters, have known about its two slain journalists in Bagdad following an air strike by American choppers?
Or how would the world have heard about Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere’s politically hidden agenda when he issued indictments to top RPF officials?
RSF did not bring about great changes but after Wikileaks, the world will never be the same.
True journalism calls for reporting everything as it is. It takes sacrifice and courage.