Saturday, 15 October 2011

Reminicences (11)


This weeks lecture covered investigative journalism. Investigative journalism is the attempt by an author to become a reliable source of information rather than vicariously passing on key points. Lord Northcliffe (the pioneer of "new journalism" in 19th century Britain) was quoted as saying that investigative journalism was "what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; the rest is just advertising" which is rather pessimistic but not without its truths. Northcliffe's media model was to provide titillation and hype to a mentally atrophied mass so as to sell them entertainment dressed up as news. The 5 "ins" of investigative journalism were described as follows.






Dr. Redman mentioned that if these criterion could be made to conform to the "triune god head" (sex, money, or power) that would instantly constitute a story worth publishing. For instance, if i had the intuition that ASIO was aware of the zombie threat before it occured, and had managed to prove it by bypassing gatekeepers to that information (inside) , i would instantly have a story.  Government inactivity on a serious threat would constitute blatant negligence, and satisfies one of the "triune god heads", that being power. The more "triune god heads" i can get in a story, the better (eg the Monica Lewinsky saga satisfied both sex and power). Its a shame zombies arent sexy, otherwise more attention would have been paid to the threat before they started coalescing.

The meaning of investigative journalism is to provide thoroughly researched, ethically defensive, enfranchisement to the masses. This process is meant to give voices to the effaced minorities and act as a mechanism to keep the ruling elite accountable to their demographic (the 4th estate, or "watchdog" principle). Ultimately however i would say that I.J's raison d'etre is to generate money as a commodity, which is why you see phenomena such as news pieces that satisfy the "triune god head" criterion over what is actually morally imperative. Positive effects (infringing institutions that are forced to comply) by such journalism are byproducts of this pressing need to sell copy. Whilst the 4th estate notion of journalism is beneficial and necessary within the context of democracy, it has been interpreted over the years as justifying "hyper-adversarialism" where journalists become the enemies of those they interview chiefly because they perceive that they aren't correctly doing their jobs if they don't employ a "gotcha!" mode of questioning.

Good I.J necessitates "shoe leather" or wearing out footwear by finding as many sources as possible before publishing an article (Regardless of employment as a journalist, today all people need good "shoe leather" to get away from the reanimated). It was advocated that to be a good investigative journalist one must take nothing for granted, check everything for its validity, and be skeptical without descending into pessimism. PR ("the dark side") has emerged and directly (alongside the commercialization of media platforms , the "grocer logic" Nick Davies) threatens the value of clear, reputable journalism. By effacing unpalatable information, and promoting good information, a partisan author can bypass journalists (through the process of "churnalism", N Davies) and present an issue/concept in a favorable light. I.J would be a journalists counter to this phenomenon, if it can be made financially viable. In this manner hype and scandal are often passed off as I.J to sell copy . I.J has  done many good things for society, such as the Fitzgerald report. Good investigative journalism i would argue is when the net positive effects of the publication outweighs its financial commitments. (eg Watergate, and the removal of a despot, over the tv show border security, and the inflammation of xenophobia).

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