• Andre Sheppy
    Andre Sheppy

    Andre Sheppy

    • Jamaica
    • Anthropology
    • Western Jamaica

    Andre Sheppy replied 29th Sep '14:

    There is an overarching perception that the heads of governments always have something to hide, and that it is incumbent of journalism to find it out. After all, if whatever the government does at any level or in any area of its services to those whom it serves, is legal or moral, it should not have reservations about it being known and scrutinized by the public, the very same one that it serves. This is where journalism, in its zest to unearth any and every thing, and a versatility that is made possible by split-second global interconnectivity and technology, seem to pose a threat to "big brother" governments, who would prefer to be the ones doing the covering and uncovering. Actually, it is believed by some people that some of these big brother governments have major stakes in some major news organisations, because let's face it, there is power in being a primary and dominant source of news. This might be the preferred means by "big brothers" to maintain control in societies in which democracy is projected as being well established, such as the United States of America. Press restrictions are for countries that are just "warming up" to democracy, such as Russia.

    However, events such as "Wiki leaks" via Edward Snowden, now a U.S. fugitive, and phone-hackings done by the now defunct British "News Of The World", owned by Mr Rupert Murdoch, occasionally emerge. If any one, including Edward Snowden or the journalist who exposed the British phone hacking scandal, dared to state the contents of these events without disclosing the evidence, he would be labelled as schizophrenic or malicious, and would sought to be "neutralised" in one way or the other. Who would have imagined the U.S's National Security Agency (NSA) phone tapping the phones of it's "allies" like that of German premier, Chancellor Angela Merkel, and of other major European heads of state? Who would have thought that a news corporation would corrupt its host country's politics and hack into a murdered British schoolgirl's phone for the sake of news gathering?

    There are distinctions to be made between the two above-mentioned news-related events. For one, the saga with Edward Snowden offers some endorsement for unhindered news gathering and dissemination. On the other hand, Rupert Murdoch's News of The World, shows how indiscreet and ravenous news gatherers can be. This distinction underscores the major concerns of the said question, and begs for another; how far is too far for both "the big brother" governments, and for the news gatherer, and how do we get to an appropriate compromise?

    Another distinction that needs to be made between the Edward Snowden and Rupert Murdoch scenarios, is that Edward Snowden was seen as mere minnows but one who seemed to have little to nothing to lose. Rupert Murdoch, conversely, heads a powerful and wealthy news empire that is so well established, that he only has everything to gain. Obviously, Edward Snowden was more threatening, for he is the one on the run from the U.S Judiciary and National Security, which purport to be harmonious in their intent. Rupert Murdoch has hardly been scratched by his scandal. He also represents a more "palatable" figure to "the establishment" because he would have been able to negotiate with the U.S government had he been in Snowden's position, and probably would have done so and "benefitted" in the "interest of national security."

    Big brother governments, just as their more paternalistic counterparts more towards the east, should have the right and responsibility to be just as vigilant in protecting their borders, their citizens, their "allies", and their national interests. The institution of journalism is well positioned, equipped and is sufficiently professional and reputable to inform, or in some cases, warn the public about that which has happened, is happening and is possible or likely to happen. This presents itself, and has done so, as the grounds for a useful partnership between journalism and governments for the common good. However, "good" is not always common, and interests which maintain the responsibility and relevance of journalism are not always shared by governments; for journalism, it is often popularity ratings given to them by its consumers, the people. Oftentimes, though, these ratings are improved by establishment busting and scandals which involve governmental institutions and personnel. On the other hand, for governments, the interest lies ultimately in the votes of the same people, which too, are popularity sensitive.

    This might appear to make the public, the same people who consume the newscasts and newspapers, and who vote in or out democratically elected governments, the ultimate master, and winner in the partnership and/or opposition between government and journalism, but not if what is being seen or heard is not as what it seems. News is what is fed to us and its interpretation can be prejudiced depending on how it is reported. News can either be presented in such a way so as to be burdensome to its recipient, or conversely, engendering false hope.

    The people, the masters and the basis of this question of big brother versus news gathering, can be deceived by either. The efficiency of such possible deception may be minimised by being more sceptical and dissecting of the news we are presented with, especially those which are of high volume and velocity. We must also resist the temptation to, and counter those who, reflexively "spread" news. Big brother governments have to face it, we, the people, are all news gatherers, and an Edward Snowden, who deliberated his ultimate action for years, can only be prevent for so long, and no more.

    A leading authority on truth, stated that "nothing is new under the sun." The deception, hypocrisy and denial that are both in the news rooms and on political platforms, cause them both to portray otherwise to this truth. Notwithstanding this and other imperfections of both, they must strive to be perfect, not only in accuracy and reliability, but in intention and spirit. The one sure truth right now is that, with all that's going in the world, seen or unseen by us, this is the day that the Lord has made.


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