Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Confronting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable

The aim of Watchdog Journalism is supposed to be safeguarding the powerless from the powerful. However, in its real sense and in practice, it may not do so and its chance to be abused is likely. 

A journalist is expected to fight corrupt and inefficient officials through uncovering their intentional wrong deeds. Here the target is only to safeguard the citizen whom the journalist is loyal to; not to look for mistakes and harm officials or the powerful. Thus, the role as a watchdog is a fit subject to the idea of Confronting the Afflicted. Because the journalist is looking for any citizen who is afflicted by the rulers; because he/she is doing his /her best to comfort the citizen, the underlying principle is positive and with good intention. 

Afflicting the Comfortable, however, is like searching mistakes in the authorities’ compound and exposing it without judging whether that will benefit the powerless/voiceless or not. Its goal is just to afflict the comforted and basically relies on sensationalized reporting. This trend might make even the first-class officials to worry in every steps of their advancement and refrain themselves from inventing new ideas since journalists lurking around them are looking for any mistake. And corrupt journalists may use it to take bribe for each and every error made knowingly or unknowingly. Thus, Afflicting the Comfortable is like an inferiority complex one feels when the other gets.

However, a journalist can and should comfort the afflicted without, if not necessary, afflicting the comfortable. And this, I believe, is closer to the philosophy of Development Journalism than the Western Media's working principles.
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