Monday, August 13, 2007

So Long and Thanks for all the Quidditch

I have just finished reading the latest J.K. Rowling novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was a fun read and a fitting ending for the Harry Potter series. It was especially nice of her to include an epilogue which tells of the characters' lives nineteen years after the end of the events related in the stories. It’s been a fun journey to take with Harry, Ron and Hermione, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to re-read the series from the beginning.

As a journalism student, it was interesting to see how my profession is treated in fiction, and in the Harry Potter series, journalism is an important part, albeit not an integral part, of the narrative. The stories of the Harry Potter series take place in the midst of a civil war regarding the rights and status of magical and non-magical, human and non-human beings and eugenics. And you thought it was a silly children’s novel! As in any conflict, journalism and journalists take part in shaping the debate. Within the magical universe of the Harry Potter stories, journalism is not a well respected profession and the journalism stories presented are suspected of bias and inaccuracy. Gosh, the imagination of these fiction writers have no limits! Part of the reason for the suspicion of bias comes from the government’s manipulation of the major daily paper, The Daily Prophet. Good heavens, these fiction writers come up with the craziest ideas.

It is a bit sad that media were not able to have a positive roll within the conflict happening in the Harry Potter universe. The fact that it has been accepted without comment leaves me concerned about the possibility of media ever redeeming itself within the public consciousness. I want to be a journalist because I want to change the world. For the better, that is. My concern, becomes, is traditional journalism a catalyst for positive change, and if not, what may be?

Regardless who wins the upcoming American election in 2008, I suspect the “War on Terror” will be ongoing, and if Stephen Harper has his way, Canada will be drawn into it. I’ve already heard, after a Canadian soldier was killed in Afghanistan, that “if we don’t fight them over there, we’ll be fighting them over here”. Technically, Afghanistan never attacked Canada, that country was just eating itself alive based on an erroneous interpretation of the Qur'an. Well before the attacks in America on September 11th, 2001, there were desperate pleas for international intervention into the treatment of Afghani citizens, especially the women, by the Taliban. One wonders if intervention at that time could have prevented the American attacks, and if, in turn, this might have prevented the disastrous, illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. I believe it is the role of journalists, vital in any democracy, is to make sure the public has factual information presented in a way which is practical and useful for them. I hope I can be part of that.
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