Journalism defers from regular reporting in a way that it takes an active participation. Journalism has been the propeller and platform for many of the events occurring in history; from slavery, to corruption and to social movements. This all starts with an agenda, as stated in the “Mightier than the Sward” book. Sometimes, this would lead to journalists standing alone and even be exposed to harm’s way. This can be seen in the case of the Liberator, which advocated for slavery to end while other newspaper editors stood against that claim. Thomas Nast on the other hand had to relocate his family due to the death threats he was getting for publishing cartoons against “Boss” Tweed. It must be understood that it takes courage to write for history as it is shaped through time by brave people standing for what they believe in. Henceforth, there is parallelism between events in history and journalists getting prosecuted or persecuted. Journalism has a bigger purpose than just informing because just like the proverb goes, the pen is mightier than the sward.
Citizenfour is a documentary film reporting on the monitoring programs by the United States government. The monitoring program itself had been announced since the 9/11 attacks as a preventative measure, but the degree of it is just appalling. The unveiling process of the program was recorded by Laura Poitras, a filmmaker known for projects exposing the NSA. In the film citizen four, she reports that after the release of “My Country, My Country”, she is under the surveillance of the Department of Homeland Security. The message of the film throughout was not just as a platform to expose the NSA, but also the repercussions of doing so. The film shows how Edward Snowden was basically persecuted for exposing the truth. Though there is a whistleblower protection act, a lot of effort is being made to extradite and prosecute Edward Snowden. The documentary puts together raw footages of interviews which makes the film more real rather than it be like a fictional film. The film was well done, engaging and most importantly, informative of the plight of journalism.
Journalism is a form of informing and reporting. A big part of it is ensuring that opinions do not mix with facts because that is the basis of journalism. I feel that this principle guards many stories from steering away from the truth, but sometimes, it becomes hard to write. For instance, when writing on the last assignment, it was difficult to write on a neutral front. I have been personally engaged with the issue at such a young age. Thus, when reporting, it felt like I was doing some of injustice for both sides. On one hand, there is an obligation to tell a story so people can form up their own judgement, but on the other, I feel like I have to shed light on the issue through different angles which might be on the greyer side of neutrality. It is hard to know when I have crossed the line and when it is acceptable. This has definitely put some perspective on Kathleen Kingsbury’s experience with the Boston Globe. Though her writing was comprehensible, it was not as relatable, for I had never written something so close to my beliefs. All in all, journalism is a tough field to crack and it would take a lot of practice and intuition before I can actually write without second guessing every sentence I write.
All the President’s Men was released over 4 decades ago. Thus, the story paste and the telling is far from the usual current Hollywood narratives which have become simpler for the sake of a global audience. The nuances in the story are translated very well on screen. The movie was relatively longer than usual movies today, but it was necessary to make the audience understand the arduous task of revealing the truth. Revealing the Watergate scandal was a long process covered under layers of cover up. If looked at multiple efforts under a single lens, it can be awfully boring and uneventful. But Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward showed perseverance and patience as they were dedicated to serving the truth. It is also hard to imagine how their editors were on board by supporting and pushing them so no room of doubt will be left behind. The movie was enlightening and definitely showed cracks of how the world of real journalism is. Let’s face it, any event turned into a movie, dramatization will occur so I might just not put my money on accurate interpretation. However, I do believe that this is as real as it gets.
The presidential election in 2016 crowned the then controversial candidate, Rodrigo Duterte as the 16th president of the Philippines. Now, rounding to one year of his presidency, news of massive brutality is coming to light. In an article by Kate Lamb published in the Guardian, she writes about the many alleged murders ordered by the president himself. President Duterte’s “gangster-like” ways are known to the public because it comes with basis, although without concrete evidence. With most of the alleged murders conducted by the police, there has yet to exist substantial evidence to incriminate him. He has even admitted in an interview in May 2015 that he is the death squad (referring to the Davao Death Squad (DDS)) and in last December that he has personally done the deed. His actions and policies are a response to his promise to curtail the drug problems in the country. Conditions in the Philippines are troubling as more people are admitting having worked for the president. Most recently, Arturo Lacansas, a 56-year old retired officer who initially denied any existence of the DDS, recanted his testimony to the Philippine senate while under oath. Claiming to have found a spiritual awakening under the guidance of the nuns of Davao, he admits to killing over 200 people while acting under the president’s command. In some of those years, he became the head of the DDS believing at the time he was servicing his country. Many of the victims come from the lower-income background as small dealers and their families are killed silently. News on the president’s violent nature is not new, but his approval rate despite it all should be a concern.
Spotlight tells the story of a broken system where Roman priests were found to sexually abuse orphaned children. Like most films about journalism in Hollywood, Spotlight tells the story of a team of investigative journalists. After getting a whiff of a lead for a story, one discovery leads to another, strengthening a story beyond any of the reporter’s imagination. The publication of the story led to many more discoveries of such instances which eventually led to a movement to stop those incidents from happening. The story sheds light on how investigative journalism occurs. From finding the right sources to treading along the grey areas of journalism. The film goes by really fast as you would try to absorb as many facts as possible. The dialogues were written in a way to be informative and give context to film watchers while doing it naturally. The impressive cast delivers a convincing performance with good dynamic and chemistry. It makes it believable that this cast of people were real team mates working on something huge. The whole process seem to be very realistic. All in all this was a splendid movie that sheds a realistic light to the world of journalism. Sometimes, it just takes creating a little more rattle to create a stir for change.
The first time I watched Shattered Glass was perhaps 7 years ago. Watching it again perhaps has brought a lot perspective on how Stephen Glass should have been caught from the beginning. The story was slow moving but eventually picked up as Glass’ lies begin to deteriorate one by one. The movie depicted how the adored Stephen Glass wrote for The New Republic (TNC) and how 27 of the articles were fabricated. The film is fascinating as it shows how it is easier to receive a good story rather than doubt it. Journalism might have been different then than it is now, but it is hard to grasp idea that such events could happen repeatedly. The performance of Hayden Christensen who played Glass was very believable; from his mannerism to his last scene of downfall. The film was a first that I watched on journalism and it felt so surreal the, and even more now.
The case on Bill O’Reilly is coming to a conclusive end. At least in the case of the direction of his career. Just yesterday, it was reported that O’Reilly will be removed from the Fox News Cable amidst sexual harassment allegations. The New York Times published an article today on how much payout will Bill O’Reilly be eligible to get. Throughout the article, the author maintains that O’Reilly allegedly carried out the act of sexual harassment. This might be due to the fact that the evidence that are available are testimonies from alleged victims and settlements which have not implicated the television host. If said otherwise, the article would have libel elements and put O’Reilly under false light. The sources in this article who talk about his payout are also left anonymous. This might be due to the nature of information which might be confidential, but is still relatively important in shaping the story. It is in my opinion that the story reported is in accordance with the media law. Although the story might incriminate Bill O’Reilly in some ways, the news reported have been true so far; thus becoming a defense against libel.
The recent bombing in Afghanistan begs the question whether the president has too much power over war instigation matters. The opinion column by Michael Krepon in the New York Times titled “How to Make the Nuclear Button Safer” addresses the unsettling problem, that in the event of war, the president has unrestrained power of launching a nuclear attack.
I definitely share the same concern as the author. For a man to have such power in times of crisis, is just extremely alarming. One can only imagine the psychology of a man having to make the decision of detonating a bomb that could be responsible for mass killings. The author suggests that the president should be obliged to consult before making such a choice.
Experts should be consulted and an extra man to approve the decision would give a better and more rational insight on the matter. Unsparing weapons as such should not even exist in the first place. However, since the play of power takes precedence above all other issues including safety, innocent lives are sure to bear the biggest brunt. In hindsight, if policy remains unchanged, a repeat of World War 2 might not be so inconceivable. After all, the cracks are already showing.
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