Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: I repeat: Our national political pundits and some web-bloggers and Talk Show Echo Chambers Podcast on social media are not journalists. They are Bloggers or BlogTalkRadio and pretend to be journalists with no commitment to ethics, laws, and objectivity. They are indeed not committed to being objective. They thrive on rumor and innuendo and knows how to deliver a strong soundbite on their platforms. Bloggers and TalkRadio or Talkshow hosts on broadcast media should be put in a different category, like “pretend journalists.” They are masters of hyperbole, masters of logical fallacies, masters of social engineering, purveyors of fake news and bias in the news and public affairs, broadcasting possibilities for propaganda, hoaxes, and spoofs to new level disinformation and sound bites for its pungency.
To survive in today’s politics, bloggers and BlogTalkRadio hosts have always traded their analysis for opinions that are not necessarily based on fact or knowledge and regurgitating concepts, ideas, or facts and theories of other people’s views without correctly understanding propaganda. However, unfortunately, there is a confirmation bias at work with most bloggers and Talkshow hosts in political discourse platforms. Let this be clear. This is the role of journalists: not to repeat propaganda, thereby assisting the propagandists and becoming part of the machinery of propaganda, but to maintain an ETHICAL STANDARD of making sure, as much as is possible, that a media platform is being used to give FACTS to the public. Then, once the public has the FACTS, it is up to the public to make up THEIR MINDS. True journalist plays the vital role of gatekeeper, and in doing so, is acting on behalf of the public good. (A.Y Jallow,2013)”. Moreover, the role of Journalists right now needed in The Gambia’s fledgling democracy and the age of fake news; the media have a more significant role in defense of the truth, openness, and transparency.
Additionally, the press in the Third Republic has to re-commit to “producing” citizens, helping to produce well-informed citizens who are enlightened and active in nation-building. However, there are many ways to do this. These include journalists presenting factual, accurate, and multidimensional information to ensure that citizens have a deep, not just surface, understanding of issues. Governance is a complex process. Reducing it to superficial reporting subverts the purpose of democracy. Presenting factual information is to empowers citizens to choose the best possible leadership. This role of producing citizens requires the media to challenge candidates for elections and the people’s elected representatives.
Fatoumatta: Most people would agree that intellect is the greatest asset that the media intellectual brings to the fore in his or her intervention in public life. However, I will add that the role of actual journalists and independent media as important as the intellect of the media intellectual is in the project of public life and the pursuit of the public good; equally important is the civil courage of the media intellectual. The idea of civic journalism, its value, is to thoroughly expose incompetence and malfeasance that is not partisan unless you believe one party is so incapable and corrupt that it cannot survive public scrutiny. Likewise, the idea of objective methods of determining the truth is not threatening unless you do not think the most convenient ideas can stand up to rigorous testing. Furthermore, context and analyses are only your enemies if you depend on an ignorant audience for your assertions. Thus, civic journalism has a significant duty in nation-building, capable of making or marring it, holding the government accountable, albeit accurately.
Participatory or citizen journalism has become more popular not because it has the cutting edge but also prevents information overload. Invariably, Citizen Journalism may not entirely replace Civic Journalism. However, it might be integrated into Civic journalism to influence a massive range of issues in the foreseeable future. After all, citizen Journalism is the digital version of the “marketplace of Ideas’ (Milton, 1986). Why can’t everybody be a reporter, and why can’t everybody be a Journalists if only they undergo the requisite training? Furthermore, what is wrong with the Fifth Estate of the Realm watches the Fourth Estate in the emerging media ecosystem?
Fatoumatta: Anyone can call themselves a journalist since the term is so broad. So – just for my answer – I will substitute a news professional for a journalist. So now answering the question gets a heck of a lot easier. I will also assume we are talking about those who report the news and not those who write opinion columns or editorials. No one trains bloggers except if they wish to go for various certification programs or training.
In contrast, journalists are trained to report and create content. Journalism is purely a profession, but blogging may or may not be someone’s profession. Instead, he may have chosen to spend his leisure time writing about something he loves. In addition, bloggers have always been very personally connected to their audience. In contrast, a journalist will never personally relate to the organization’s audience unless directed to do so.
Bloggers possess a piece of deep knowledge in their respective fields, be it about technology and gadgets, fashion and lifestyle, food, travel, beauty, etc. In contrast, journalists are turned into experts with the help of extensive training. Fields
A news professional is someone who
makes his or her living covering or editing the news,
has been trained, either through on-the-job training that involved working with professionals or through academic study, and
and attempts to be accurate and unbiased.
Fatoumatta: A person who meets those standards can work for a newspaper, a broadcast outlet, or a blog and be considered a piece of news professional. A blogger might not earn a penny from his work (which would make him an amateur, not a professional) and may have no training at all. That same blogger could even be doing excellent work but still would not be a piece of news professional.
Now my opinion. Furthermore, it is one reason I value the information produced by professionals more than I do from amateur blogs. One of the things that makes news reports credible is that they are vetted through the editing process. An editor reads the copy and makes sure as best he can that what is being reported is accurate and written to make it comprehensible to the reader. Unfortunately, many blogs are one-person operations and do not have the luxury of an extra set of eyes.
Anyone who has covered news professionally knows – even though he has probably bitched about editing and editors his entire working life – the value of that extra set of eyes. Even the best of us make mistakes or create copy that is not clear enough or even show bias at times. Furthermore, the writer can easily miss checking a fact, can assume something is true when it is not. Professional editing does not catch every mistake, but it goes a long way toward creating a more accurate and readable report.
A blogger has a “me-to-you” relationship with readers. In contrast, a journalist operates on behalf of an organization, so it is to some degree an “us-to-you” relationship or an “us-to-the-public” relationship. As a reader, you can feel the difference. So far, the discussion has focused on the trustworthiness of sources, which is a great question to ask. However, unfortunately, so far, the debate has centered on notions of professional integrity rather than the needs and wishes of the readers for whom media is supposed to serve.
Try asking readers about which sources they trust. Can you trust the media? No. Can you trust traditional journalists? No. Can you trust a blogger? No.
Readers are skeptical, as they should be. Whether you are a journalist, a blogger, or a traveling salesman, you must earn the reader’s trust. By the way, both bloggers and journalists can learn a lot about how to do that effectively. Now ask yourself, why would someone trust an organization more than an individual? It is always the individual who writes.
As a journalist, I was trained to take a God-like “impartial” view. I only recently started questioning that assumption. Why would you trust an individual pretending to be God rather than an individual calling it as she sees it? I cannot say—an open question, perhaps.
Nevertheless, it seems that the same rules of credibility apply equally to both bloggers and journalists. A blogger is a kind of cowboy journalist, unencumbered by restraint, for good or ill. However, on the other hand, an organization can institutionalize standards across many people, which certainly raises the average quality of output. However, it may not be an average quality that counts. In the end, a writer must artfully apply discernment to convey information accurately. Unfortunately, because of its regulatory standards, an organization gets in the way of both terrible and excellent writing.
Fatoumatta: However, when I can choose my sources at the individual level as a reader, all matters are outstanding. I make no room for the merely good. Perhaps that is why, in my experience, the most reliable and trustworthy sources of information I have found are individual bloggers who have put their reputation on the line. Still, one must wade through much noise to find them. So maybe the question is: What place is there for the organization in media when media technology enables one-to-one connection, governed by readers instead of editors?