Citizens of every country need the news as information disseminator, interpreter, and public mobilizer. We cannot make sense of continued hunger, disease, and mass murder without knowledge of the (in) action of major governments, their multinational corporations, financial institutions, and representatives in the United Nations. Unfortunately, news coverage is often late, episodic, and inadequate in terms of historical and systemic background. When it addresses crises involving national minorities and foreign others, it is sometimes loaded with ethnocentric, racist, and pornographic descriptions of victims, with heroes mostly from the majority community or the global North. It is a truism that representations of crises in the news are the only access to distant events for most of us. In the absence of travel experience or first-hand knowledge, the representation is the only reality. Hitler would not exist for most people without the news. But, how many know the factors and forces that allowed the rise of a genocidaire like Hitler in the much-touted form of government called an electoral democracy, someone who was allowed to kill 6 million other humans? Such knowledge makes a difference on how we understand matters of life and death. The lack of explanation of causes is a longstanding complaint against journalism. Reasons include the pressures of a 24-hour news cycle, issue complexity, ideologically explosive content, and the format, platform or craft focus of news writing. Writing for daily news deadlines permits description of What and Where but only allows limited explanation of the Why and How of an event or issue. Good
Recommended CitationMody, Bella, Commentary: Educating journalism students to do comprehensive reporting, Asia Pacific Media Educator, 21, 2011.