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  1. #1

    Ideology, Journalism and The Truth

    I was doing some thinking lately. I was thinking about evidence. About news. About truth and what it means. About journalism. And about ideologies.

    To me, a journalist is someone who presents news and factual evidence to the audience. A journalist is someone who has gone out and found out as much about the truth as they humanly can and returned to bring it back with as long possible bias and inaccuracy as possible. (Not including, of course, opinion pieces.)

    It is someone who presents the evidence of both sides and allows their audience to decide for themselves which side (if any) they take. It is someone who gives all the truth, regardless of the unpleasant nature of it. It is someone who can put aside as much of their bias as they can and give people the truth that they cannot find themselves.

    Ideology has no place in journalism. When you get to the point where you can justify anything "because it helps the greater good" (your greater good), you are no longer a journalist, you are an ideologue. You are someone who's presentation of the truth cannot be believed, because you are willing to twist reality to fit your "truth". You are willing to misrepresent people, misinterpret facts and misreport the truth.

    And that's where the mistrust starts.

    When your ideology allows you to justify hiding the truth from your audience because YOU feel it has no importance, why should we think the truth you represent holds any important?

    When you point to the monster in the dark that you say is planning to drag us away in our sleep any night, and then we turn the lights on and see it is more scared of us, what kind of trust can we have in your representation of others?

    When you close down discussion and take pride in the fact that you have a safe space where no one can debate with you, how can you act shocked when people shut down your opinion in other places?

    When you ignore opinions and dismiss them out of hand, where is your right to call other people close minded and ignorant?

    When you are so close with the thing you are writing about that you can't separate your own opinion from the facts, where will the line between reality and feelings end?

    Why should people believe your truth, when it is obvious you are willing to hide the evidence from their eyes? Why should people listen to you, when you will just smear any truth you give with lies and dishonesty? Why should your job exist, when you don't do what you claim to do?

    But all of that is just my opinion.

  2. #2
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    That is all lovely, but what is your discussion point? It reads more like a blogpost then a entry point for a discussion.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by pepper View Post
    That is all lovely, but what is your discussion point? It reads more like a blogpost then a entry point for a discussion.
    The fact that the misrepresentation of the truth because of ideology is a unacceptable?

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Grizzly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (int) magicMissile View Post
    The fact that the misrepresentation of the truth because of ideology is a unacceptable?
    Why is "Ideology" being singled out in this case? I'd say that misreperesentation of the truth is unacceptable in any case.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly View Post
    Why is "Ideology" being singled out in this case? I'd say that misreperesentation of the truth is unacceptable in any case.
    Because it's relevant. :D

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    This is pretty far afield for the PC Gaming Discussion board. Moving to Other Stuff.
    Support for my all-pepperjack-cheese food bank charity drive has been lukewarm at best.

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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wolfenswan's Avatar
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    So what you're saying is that in your ideology about journalism, ideology has no place in journalism?

    If you are dependent on money to survive and journalism is your job to obtain said money then at one point there's going to be a conflict of interest between what you want to write about and what you have to write about in order to keep your job or improve payment.

    In other words: Blame the game, not the players.

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    This notion of value-free journalism is garbage. There are always men behind the curtain. The difference with RPS is that here they're out on the stage where you can see them.

    In your purely theoretical, value-free, supposed utopia, who decides what is news? Are press releases news? Are all game releases news? Do only big budget games get coverage? Popular games? Those sound like values to me.

    This idea of value-free journalism is not only foolish, but it's a particular kind of foolishness, in service of particular interests. '"Just the facts ma'am" means isolating stories from their broader context, omitting relevant social, political, and historical contexts. It's what Fox News wants to do with recent events in Ferguson. There's no historical pattern of racism, police violence and the disposability of black lives here, no larger story, no siree. It's just one black guy shot by one (possibly) bad cop.

    Watching the news is almost worse than useless as it gives you the impression that you're actually learning something, when you're not. Divorced from their context, events take on whatever aspect the powers that be want them to, and the first and most powerful instrument of manipulation is the power to choose what not to say. You're invited to assess all manner of events in the Middle East -- Iranian nuclear ambitions! Saddam! ISIS! -- totally devoid of historical or otherwise broader context that, in many cases, can paint events in a very different light.

    To take a clear-cut example, recall the news that's made the rounds a few times now in recent years about North Korea's evident belligerence in launching space rockets over Japan. What the news won't tell you is that everyone launches east to take advantage of the Earth's rotational velocity. Launching east is so important that European nations -- which can't launch east -- launch from South America instead. And as anyone with a basic grasp of the regional geography can see, east is by far the safest direction for North Korea to launch as well: over water (before Japan) vs. directly over China or South Korea. Yet, by relying on the ignorance of their viewers, particular governments, and the mainstream media that regurgitates their propaganda, manage to make a non-story into final, indisputable proof that North Korea is Up To No Good And Must Be Stopped. And yet, in your world this is proper, value-free journalism.
    Last edited by Lethe; 26-08-2014 at 08:16 PM.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tritagonist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (int) magicMissile View Post
    To me, a journalist is someone who presents news and factual evidence to the audience. A journalist is someone who has gone out and found out as much about the truth as they humanly can and returned to bring it back with as long possible bias and inaccuracy as possible. (Not including, of course, opinion pieces.)
    That description sounds more like a forgotten-about academic than a journalist, but I digress.

    People read specific newspapers because all reporting is necessarily a summary of the main points and their context. Every story in today's paper has been the subject of books numbering in the hundreds of pages. What elements or implications of an event are or are not important depends on the audience.

    I don't quite understand the reason why would you want the person who 'found out as much about the truth as they humanly can' not to comment on the event and its context as well? How is the audience to 'decide for themselves' if they are the least informed party to this exchange?

    Quote Originally Posted by (int) magicMissile View Post
    ... you are an ideologue. You are someone who's presentation of the truth cannot be believed, because you are willing to twist reality to fit your "truth". You are willing to misrepresent people, misinterpret facts and misreport the truth.
    Aren't you taking this to an unnecessary extreme?
    "He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to
    the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free". ~
    Luke 4:18

  11. #11
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    Posted elsewhere, but might as well post here: -

    Society of Professional Journalists ethics code. Which anyone who purports to be a journalist of any flavour should at least make the effort to adhere to: -

    http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

    Preamble

    Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.

    Seek Truth and Report It

    Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

    Journalists should:

    — Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
    — Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
    — Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
    — Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
    — Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
    — Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
    — Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
    — Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
    — Never plagiarize.
    — Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
    — Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
    — Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
    — Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
    — Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
    — Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
    — Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
    — Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

    Minimize Harm

    Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

    Journalists should:

    — Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
    — Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
    — Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
    — Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
    — Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
    — Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
    — Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
    — Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.


    Act Independently

    Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

    Journalists should:

    —Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
    — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
    — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
    — Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
    — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
    — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.


    Be Accountable

    Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

    Journalists should:

    — Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
    — Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
    — Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
    — Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
    — Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

  12. #12
    Network Hub Stellar Duck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post

    Minimize Harm

    Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

    Journalists should:

    — Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
    — Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
    — Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
    — Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
    — Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.

    — Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
    — Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
    — Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

    Seems pretty key in this case.
    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory since 1982.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stellar Duck View Post
    Seems pretty key in this case.
    No more than any of these

    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post

    Journalists should:

    — Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
    — Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
    — Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
    — Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
    — Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
    — Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
    — Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
    — Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
    — Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
    — Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.



    Journalists should:

    —Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
    — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
    — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity
    .
    — Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
    — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
    — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

    Journalists should:

    — Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
    — Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
    — Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
    — Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.

    — Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 26-08-2014 at 09:48 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfenswan View Post
    So what you're saying is that in your ideology about journalism, ideology has no place in journalism?

    If you are dependent on money to survive and journalism is your job to obtain said money then at one point there's going to be a conflict of interest between what you want to write about and what you have to write about in order to keep your job or improve payment.

    In other words: Blame the game, not the players.
    Bit of a difference between writing about things to pay the bills and getting paid by a developer to write something to pay the bills (although there is no evidence of the latter happening in this situation).

    Quote Originally Posted by Tritagonist View Post
    That description sounds more like a forgotten-about academic than a journalist, but I digress.

    People read specific newspapers because all reporting is necessarily a summary of the main points and their context. Every story in today's paper has been the subject of books numbering in the hundreds of pages. What elements or implications of an event are or are not important depends on the audience.

    I don't quite understand the reason why would you want the person who 'found out as much about the truth as they humanly can' not to comment on the event and its context as well? How is the audience to 'decide for themselves' if they are the least informed party to this exchange?
    That's why you provide all the evidence. The context is part of the evidence. You just try not to leave out bits of context that don't suit your narrative of the event.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tritagonist View Post
    Aren't you taking this to an unnecessary extreme?
    I really don't think I am.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    <snippity snip>
    And then there's Reuters Standards and Values:

    The 10 Absolutes of Reuters Journalism

    • Always hold accuracy sacrosanct
    • Always correct an error openly
    • Always strive for balance and freedom from bias
    • Always reveal a conflict of interest to a manager
    • Always respect privileged information
    • Always protect their sources from the authorities
    • Always guard against putting their opinion in a news story
    • Never fabricate or plagiarise
    • Never alter a still or moving image beyond the requirements of normal image enhancement
    • Never pay for a story and never accept a bribe

  15. #15
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    But actually, why do you read about videogames? That's the first question you need to answer. Don't look at the writers, look at yourself. Look at what you're trying to get out of it.

    See, news agencies like Reuters report 'just the facts' in an unbiased a way as possible. Journos from newspapers and TV will follow up on those stories, add their own partisan spin to it (every national paper in the UK has a political bias) and report. Very few people go to Reuters directly for news, as it's very boring, staid, and hewn of context. But if you just want the facts, it's there.

    There is no equivalent for video games because generally, who wants 'just the facts'?

    So again, I ask, why do you read about video games? To learn about the industry? Then you're a minority and not who is being catered for. To learn if a game is worth buying? That's inherently biased to the author's views. Or just to be entertained?

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    You will note that both those lists say strive for or avoid, they both freely admit that journalism is never free of personal bias. There is no such thing as objective truth so to claim journalists should write that is claiming a contradiction.

    Good journalists strive to avoid bias and to report both sides, but the mere act of writing is imposing some of their subjective truth into the article. It's unavoidable, what makes a good journalist is being conscious of it.

    Also claiming to strive for absolute objectivity tends to prop up current power structures and to give up power to an established status quo. Which isn't really the history of the press, the press has a long history of having values and being active parts of political reform (in the US, UK, France, India and Russia at least that I can think of)

  17. #17
    Lesser Hivemind Node frightlever's Avatar
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    The reason people talk about "impartial journalism" is because it's necessary to make the distinction. Journalism is not inherently impartial. You may be drawn to news sources which are more or less partial depending on your personal preferences. Journalism does not exist in isolation.

    It's more important to hone your own critical judgement.

    The cake is a lie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    See, news agencies like Reuters report 'just the facts' in an unbiased a way as possible. Journos from newspapers and TV will follow up on those stories, add their own partisan spin to it (every national paper in the UK has a political bias) and report. Very few people go to Reuters directly for news, as it's very boring, staid, and hewn of context. But if you just want the facts, it's there.

    There is no equivalent for video games because generally, who wants 'just the facts'?

    So again, I ask, why do you read about video games? To learn about the industry? Then you're a minority and not who is being catered for. To learn if a game is worth buying? That's inherently biased to the author's views. Or just to be entertained?
    If people are going to call themselves journalists then through the very act of doing so they are outlining that they hold to particular ideals regarding any news stories they might report on. As highlighted in earlier posts there are agreed upon rules that journalists should try and hold to.

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    I think the problem with this thread is that the original post is framed incorrectly.

    Many media start of because they want to give a voice to people who aren't heard. For example, many major Dutch newspapers have their roots in the WWII underground press. Even media started as purely businesses, to make money, end up with certain agendas, either due to the personality of their owners, pandering to their target demographics or otherwise.

    The actual problems happen when people let these values interfere with the quality of their work. Advocating for certain groups or interests is fine if you feel they warrant attention. Twisting facts, outright lying, or more subtle rhetorical techniques intended to misrepresent or otherwise manipulate discussion are not.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus rockman29's Avatar
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    I don't think it's absolutely wrong for journalists to have an opinion, everyone does and it will somehow affect their writing/story telling/news reporting.

    But I do appreciate these illustrated guidelines that reflect on principles of disclosure, accuracy, transparency, honesty, and other things.

    The reverse of that is deceit, misrepresentation, and lying, as the Bjolke just mentioned, which are different from simple personality in writing, and hopefully which all respected journalists will avoid, and which all of us as readers will hopefully detect very easily.

    In videogames I don't think we should expect that because it is referred to as journalism, that we will easily find reputable news sources.

    Though I very much respect RPS' willingness in communication with the audience and disclosure on points of controversy, and I like that they choose to lead by example in this regard.

    Eurogamer also made a "pledge" last year of some sorts to include more disclosure among their reviews and articles, but Eurogamer is a much larger entity with many personalities coming and going at any time, so I am less confident in their capacity to maintain a regard for transparency and disclosure as RPS.

    There's many games sites on the web.... the most fair reporting I've found are from two sites, not that I've seen them all of course. I very much enjoy RPS and CVG, and they seem to report fairly and nicely from what I've seen.
    Last edited by rockman29; 27-08-2014 at 08:12 PM.

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