Saturday, 9 January 2016

Maybe George Orwell was Wrong about Journalism

There’s this quote going around that people credit to the author of works such as ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’. It goes something like this…

Yeah, this quote.

Now, let me confess something right at the beginning.

I don’t really know if he said it or if it means something else altogether or if he meant it as a very complex metaphor to say something that I haven’t understood, but from what I gather from its literal meaning is that journalism is about letting people know about things that other don’t want them to know.

Now maybe he might not have used this quote to convey an absolute definition of journalism but seen and understood on its own, without a point of reference, it does seem like a very confined view of the field to me.

Saying that journalism is printing what others don’t want printed defines only one aspect of the many possibilities journalism holds. Information, knowledge, awareness, peacekeeping, gate keeping and even revolution are some of the various aspects of what one might call journalism per se.

Printing only what others don’t want printed seems to then be a very stunted view which implies that only the bad side of human nature is what journalism should strive to portray.

But journalism, as far as I understand it, stands as a mirror before society, showing it its true face, pretty or ugly, sane or insane, free or enslaved. But always what society really looks like, not only what-must-not-be-said.

Image Courtesy: genius.com


Some might today claim that the media has become biased, that it does show only what it wants to, that it all depends on the interest of those who control the media. Others claim that ‘breaking news’ is all what the media is about today. And still others believe that the amount of bad news being printed and broadcast is more than the good that is happening in society.

Does that mean this quote holds true?

Not necessarily. One has to look beyond the bad to search for the good. It does happen all around us and it is reported. Maybe it’s just that we are so attuned to the bad that we cannot find enough good to make it count.

As someone actually working in this industry, I know how hard journalists toil to search for a good story amongst the murders and suicides of everyday life. These stories then appear in print and are broadcast, but are we open enough to give the good news enough credit?


Are we ready to admit that George Orwell might, just might, be wrong?

Are we?