Guest Post by Hlengiwe Mahlaba
Although journalism is widely considered as a pathway to gaining information for the public, various criticisms have at times been leveled against journalists. One is the role of “public journalism” – the notion that journalists not only report the facts, but also help the public in finding possible solutions.
The other is the manner in which journalists have often come under fire conducting themselves by doing anything to get the “scoop”. However, the public seldom stops to think how they benefit from this information.
With all the running around tracking sources and gathering information that journalists do, is there still room for them to get personally involved in driving social change? Or does this place them in a compromising position, as they are “supposed” to stay objective when dealing with information?
Is reporting not a big enough job, coming as it does with the responsibilities of informing the public of matters in their interest and shaping opinion?
How hard is it separate your professionalism from your personal opinion? One can’t be objective at all times, yet it is expected of journalists to do so.
One may argue that journalists should get involved in the process for change, as they are also part of a community, living in a country. But a professional journalist should stay objective at all times, and getting involved in political matters may be seen as subjective.
Presenting the facts to the public is as good as the first step to change. Giving the public information that benefits them and making them aware of situations should be like pushing them into the direction for them to do something about it, for themselves. This allows the public to be motivated to do something for themselves and be active participants in the road to change.
Basically, everyone has a role to play, and journalists can’t play two roles at the same time. Journalism as a profession should be looked at in the same way as any other profession. It is not a light that can be automatically switched on and off. Journalists should always be aware of what is happening around them at all times of the day, even when their 9-5 responsibilities have been completed.
The question has been asked many times – how should journalists handle a situation, for example, if they happen to witness an accident nearby. Should they stop and help, or simply stop to take a picture? The sensible thing in a situation like that is to call the ambulance. However, taking a simple picture of the tragedy (to explain the situation) while waiting for help shouldn’t be a bad thing. The journalist can’t get involved – simply and obviously – because they are neither trained nor equipped to do so.
For journalists to be personally involved in social change is a contradiction in itself, because they will be gaining information objectively but finding solutions which they can only do subjectively. Where is the line then drawn? Is this what journalists studied to do? Help in finding possible solutions to our everyday problems is a job for government, and the role of the journalist should simply be to report the facts.
Journalists don’t choose what they witness on a daily basis, nor do they choose the information that they find. However, the drive and passion for what they do may not amount to how much they get paid, or the amount of effort they go through to keep the public in the know.
Making the public aware of what is happening is more than enough, simply because there are other things to be revealed each day. And being a hero in solving the problems is simply not part of the job description.
By guest blogger Mulaifa T. Sigubu
Millions of BlackBerry users across the world were infuriated when there was an outage of internet service including sending and receiving emails as well as instant messaging on the phone.
Research In Motion Ltd, the Canadian smartphone manufacturer, said a vital link in its European infrastructure failed on Monday, and a backup did not work either. The underlying problem has been resolved, but the issue of built up backlog of e-mails and messages the company has yet to work on it.
Meanwhile, thousands of BlackBerry users vented their rage on Twitter, stating that “It is World Mental Health Day and BlackBerry users are going mental!” It seems like BlackBerry outage has proved beyond doubt that consumers at large are now heavily dependent on technology and are now paying the price.
Some experts believe extreme use of the Internet, cell phones and other technologies can cause users to become more impatient, impulsive, forgetful and even more self-absorbed. Users are paying a price in terms of our cognitive life because of the virtual lifestyle.
As users we spend a lot of time with our devices, and some studies have suggested that excessive dependence on cell phones and the Internet is akin to an addiction. As far fetched as this might sound, I was down in the dumps when my BlackBerry was not functioning.
The withdrawal symptoms were just too great to endure.
The society has become almost utterly dependant on technology. A friend of mine once told me that technology was designed in a way that once you become used to it, it then becomes virtually impossible to live without. Every generation is uncomfortable with the next generation as they move into uncharted territory. Beyond a certain level, one just cannot attach any importance to the criticisms about new tech.
Technology is here to stay, and the smartest option would be to use it properly to further the development of mankind.
However, one need not to be too attached to it lest it malfunctions one will be left to carry the blunt.
If you are in search of a high quality of living Melbourne is the place to be, well at least according to the latest Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Survey.
The survey assessed 140 cities worldwide according to the “challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle.”
The cities that were at the top of the list are perceived to be in the “very top tier of livability, where few problems are encountered … presenting few, if any, challenges to residents’ lifestyles.”
I was rather disappointed that no African cities made it into the top ten. And at the bottom of the list were seven African cities, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Douala (Cameroon), Tripoli (Libya), Algiers (Algeria), Lagos (Nigeria), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) and Harare (Zimbabwe).
I’ve lived in five African cities throughout my life, but only spanning three countries. There is no disputing that there are problems in terms of infrastructure and service delivery.
But in the same vein I have also been to Europe, the United State and Asia and nothing compares to living in an African city.
There’s a certain buzz in African cities, the people, the crowded streets and taxi’s that whiz by you without a care, much to your irritation in the moment.
The flea markets, where you can find anything from a brand new watch to morning slippers.
Fresh produce in abundance at a fraction of what it will cost you in the store. Mind you it’s not mass produced, and before “organic” became a selling point for marketers that is what we were raised on.
The list could literally go on and on…
I do wish every household on our continent had access to electricity, water, and decent sanitation. That we had access to effective transportation systems, decreased crime rates, political stability and less pollution.
That perhaps is not the reality of the African state, and it may not be ideal. But I wouldn’t trade my reality, because as far as I’m concerned our cities are still environments fit to live in and we can only work towards making them better.