According to Journalism.org, a journalistâ€™s first obligation is to the truth. Readers want to believe that they can trust their news sources and so a good journalist must aim to be as balanced and honest as possible. Readers must be aware, however, that pure objectivity and absolute journalistic truth are near impossibilities. Sure, every one can agree that 200 people were killed in Madridâ€™s bombings last week, but when it comes down to the more interesting questions like why this has happened and what it implies for the future, there are a myriad of likely responses, all of which are at least somewhat subjective.
If a photo in all its simplicity can never be objective, then how can we expect a much more complex person with inevitable opinions and subjective ideas to be so? Especially when the papers or stations who employ them are either owned or sponsored by corporations with very specific interests in mind. If our postmodern society has really rejected the notion of an absolute truth and replaced it with a diverse and pragmatic perspective, then why should the news be considered exempt from the rule? It is time we stop viewing journalism as a vessel through which the all-mighty Truth may pass and begin questioning the sources and foundations of our knowledge.
If you follow the advice of Paul Shore, Canadian representative for the Guerrilla News Network (GNN), the best way to get accurate and unbiased world news is to read from as many sources as possible and to think critically about the information they present. Cross checking facts is always a good way to see if youâ€™re being duped. But with so many news sites available to us through the Internet, how can readers assess the reliability of any given source?
As Shore himself admits, the GNN is not free of its own biases. It has a distinct, leftist slant in order to counter balance the biases of mainstream news. Now, to me, this is completely acceptable because I happen to agree with the majority of their ideas. But what differentiates â€˜slanted newsâ€™(one way or the other) from propaganda? Is it just because the GNNâ€™s values are, for the most part, in sync with my own that I consider them a reliable source? If so, is that really any better than someone with more right-ist tendencies who considers Fox and NBC to be accurate sources?
Wendy M. Grossmanâ€™s article Guerrilla Journalism raises similar questions: “if we call one journalism and not the other, aren’t we saying that it is journalism as long as we agree with the purpose?”
To a certain extent, yes, and that may be problematic. However, one important difference remains which this statement does not address. A site which practices a certain ‘Activist Journalism’ like the GNN seems more open with its bias or slant, if you will, and therefore more open to critical thinking as opposed to most mainstream sources which make no apparent distinction between their news and the “truth” and are thus more deceiving towards their audience.