Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Journalistic Lives and Livelihoods

Caribbean journalists have been following the great international regret and interest generated by the deaths of Marie Colvin, Remi Ochlik and Rami al-Sayyed in Syria.

These developments have raised interesting questions related to the dangers of journalism, the relationship between 'mainstream' and 'citizen' journalism and the impact of the practice of journalism on politics and the exercise of power.

In the English-speaking Caribbean, we do not often lose our lives in the pursuit of journalistic practice, but it is not unheard of to have livelihoods and careers lost - the social ostracism that occurs upon publication of unpopular stories, the perception that some news has a way of standing in the way of 'development', the belief that we too often pay little regard and respect for officialdom and office.

In the end, some of us lose our jobs. Some resign to self-censorship and some simply retreat from journalism.

So often these days we hear journalists develop the case for less rather than more disclosure. Fewer stories rather than more stories. The establishment of 'boundaries' beyond which we should not reach, less we breach some vague notion of good taste, respectfulness or some arbitrarily determined border of privacy (particularly on the part of elected officials). Adherence to some form of situation-specific standard.

Scratch the surface of some of this advice and counsel and you find political preference and reward, underdeveloped professional standards and the caustic impact of self-censorship.

1 comment:

Steve Maximay said...

Wesley I can concur with your views, however, scratching below the veneer of advice and counsel …exposes underdeveloped professional standards …. Those undeveloped (as opposed to underdeveloped) standards provides the fulcrum for any oppressive regime to leverage the entire profession …….hence the ACM’s role in “developing” journalists ought never to be diminished