Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Journalistic bias

In school we were taught the "totally objective" journalist was a myth.

Whoever you are, you will bring your biases to your work, which may make one critical of perspectives different than your own, while sympathetic to causes which reflect your background.

What is important is to be clear on your perspectives, and be up front about them with your readership.

(I'm born and raised in BC, 41, a Taurus and I like long walks on the beach.)

Then there is this Iraqi journalist.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi is a broadcast journalist (They were called "BJ's" in school. Don't ask.) who works for the Cairo based Al-Baghdadia.

I think his bias is clear.

What I love most about this BBC video is the slow motion replay.

Doncha love it? Slow motion replay in a hard-news BBC piece!

al-Zaidi has gained a lot of support, with an online petition for his release, and offers from lawyers to defend him.

Reporters Without Borders, while condeming the action, has called for leinency.

To those of us unfamiliar with Middle Eastern culture, shoe throwing seems a juvenile protest, at best, and highly unprofessional behaviour from a journalist.

Which brings me back to journalistic bias (You didn't see that coming, didja?), in the West, the story has been presented as a humourous protest by an Iraqi citizen, the equivelant of the pie-in-the-face protests.

How serious a statement was made in Middle Eastern culture is not present in the Western coverage.

After all, news is funny in slow motion.

Related links
Shoes thrown at Bush on Iraq trip [BBC]
Al-Baghdadia [Official site] in Arabic
Muntadhar al-Zaidi [Wikipedia]
Call for leniency for Muntadar al-Zaidi after shoe throwing protest [Reporters Without Borders]
The old soft shoe [The Economist](Yes, that Economist)