“A journalist’s job is not to just accept the story being given” said John Conroy, director of BBC documentary, Rwanda’s Untold Story.
By Jasmine Wing | @jasminenatashaw
Have the public started to lean back rather than leaning in to hear more? Since when did the public become so naïve and so accepting of everything they read?
However a journalist mustn’t be that way. We must smell a story and “not just see the obvious”, Conroy stated.
I am beginning to believe that a journalist is not what I expected. In fact it seems to be a lot easier with less investigating. More just obeying to commandments, like a movie scene “just run the story God damn it!”
But John Conroy, along with other investigative journalists, reinstated the role to go “beyond what is expected of you”. He explained that you must know the background of your story and leave no room for holes.
If we are really embodying the role of the eyes and ears for the public, we have to act on their behalf in going to the places they yearn to know about. We have to be asking the questions they are concerned about. We have to report on issues; we as journalists get to see what those at home may not.
Sometimes this may involve questioning the truth to find the real story. The heart of journalism relies on the heart of the journalist. This requires someone committed to searching out the truth. But it might not always be the truth we are hand fed or led to believe. Sometimes the story may seem simple, blatant and obvious. And those in charge want to present the story on a plate with a Tony Blair, ‘get it done’ kind of attitude. But what if there is more to it than meets the eye?
Some members of the public are blind to that fact that somehow the press, politics and world affairs are well connected…. but not in a positive way. Even journalists can sometimes be less than objective in just their choice of words and the way they portray the story. In terms of politics and world affairs, the press has a very important role to play.
We are the people who deliver the news to the people, whether it’s good or bad. We make sure people know what is going on in this country and beyond. “Commit, live and breathe a story” as John Conroy perfectly put it.
But what if the real story isn’t what the people in power want the public to think? Maybe they just want to paint a particular picture, in which you would be more receptive? Not only must the press convey the story, it must also ignite discussion on a news topic.
Questions such as; do British journalists only see the story from one side? Are the press in another realm to the people in Syria? Writing the story can be difficult because journalists struggle to relate to the lives those people lead.
Conroy said that a journalist must be, “willing to take risks” even though ‘those stories’ may be frightening. I realised even the methods of obtaining the stories are not always going to be easy as John Conroy painted, “with some of the stories that seem in order with people hushed and laws against saying against”.
The journalists are given newspapers as platforms to voice and report but they are also restricted by those same newspaper proprietors.
However it is not all doom and gloom. The rise of blogging and social media makes it increasingly easier to disclose the real truth to the people. And advancing technology connects the world more easily than ever before; messages can spread across continents in the click of a button.
Are the press just puppets? If so who is pulling the strings? Can we trust the stories we read or are we really only getting fragments of the story?
Digging may cost you, you may be criticised, even lose your job but as John Conroy said, “the bottom line is telling the truth”.