OPINION: Journalism versus an angry world

by | Sep 22, 2017 | Opinion

Sanzana Syed
Opinion Editor

My mom always told me that my eyes could see into her soul. That my eyes were so big and wide as a baby, it was like I could see her life story unveil through them. Although they aren’t as wide as they used to be, I’ve always lived my life reflecting that image of myself: a young, wide-eyed girl, who was always curious for information.

As a journalist, one of the most natural instincts is curiosity. It’s that urge to ask questions in order to get the right ideas to develop a story. It’s that instinct to take a photo that speaks out to you, whether it’s what the sky looks like, or a protest on the streets.

But our world has shifted, and journalists are being scrutinized with every move they make. Young and old are being tested in their credentials, and suddenly, the people you’ve known to tell the truth, to report the facts, is being questioned.

With news flowing in from social media outlets, John Carroll, a media critic and professor of communications from Boston University said it makes it difficult to know which stories are real. The best way to find out what’s a fact and what’s not are distinguishing creditable sources.

Carroll encourages people to dig into the story and do research, even if there is some kind of filter, but it’s a shared street.

A 2016 poll showed only 11 per cent of Britons trust journalists to tell the truth. When the participants were asked how they’d describe the British Press, words like untrustworthy, and liars came up.

One of the most common word was fake.

“People do not trust the press to regulate itself and the cannot afford to take news publishers to court,” said Jonathan Heawood, CEO of IMPRESS, a British website for independent journalism, which commissioned said.

It’s a loud majority. It’s also disheartening to hear that we’re at all time low for being untrustworthy.

What’s even more devastating is the treatment we get for having the title.

According to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 25 journalists have been killed in parts of the world in 2017, with motives of anti-journalism animus confirmed. In 2016, 48 journalists were reported killed, and in 2015, 72.

A good portion of these deaths occurred in the Middle East, but it’s just a shocking number to read. It’s an emotionally jarring job and a lot of people take that for granted. Those numbers can easily be someone I know from this class, in the future.

That frightens me.

I see it in people’s eyes when I tell them I’m a journalist. Sometimes their eyes widen, and their body language isn’t as open; their arms cross over their chest, hunched into their seat, and their responses become shorter.

Other times their eyes look blank.

The word journalist seems to be a taboo word. In certain interviews, I almost have to sugar coat my title to being just a student at Humber studying journalism.

However, I’ve had more interviews that went successfully than the ones that haven’t. It’s those interviews and stories I’ve written that I’m most proud of. The one I want to put in my portfolio.

Still, a part of me fears the outcome of journalism in the next five years.

In the end, however, it’s journalism versus the world.