Are journalists not allowed to have an opinion?
This has been a subject that has been lingering in my brain for quite a while now, this article is prompted by ‘my wing man’ a close male friend of mine who occasionally likes poking fun at me by uttering, things like “journalists have no soul” and falling back in thunderous laughter as I glare at him.
Apparently according to his ingenious mind any human being that gets lost within the abyss of knowledge and communicates with an endless list of individuals are bereft of a soul.
However, this piece of writing is also inspired by a recent interaction I had with a source. As a writer, my brain is plagued with an endless stream of ideas and thoughts that conveniently wake me up at around 2AM or 3AM. Thus as insomnia persists, I have no choice but to switch the lights on and delve into these thoughts whether its’ by engaging in a staring contest with my ill-tempered cat or going onto social media to air my views. I usually prefer the latter, thus in this manner, I elaborated on the NEEEF bill on a certain social networking site, and to say that I stepped on a few toes would be an understatement.
As a journalist one often thinks that nothing is off limits, thus I “eloquently” shared my rather revolutionary views on the newly proposed New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework bill. This resulted in a source I recently communicated with questioning the objectivity of my reporting, as I may have conflicted interests in the matter due to my views. I was further accused of engaging with the public in a rather “destructive” manner and was encouraged to ask more informed questions as an “intelligent” journalist.
At this point, I was at a loss, I felt as though my right to freedom of expression is inferior due to my profession. I was somewhat infuriated, however luckily I had my short temper surgically removed as it downed on me that I probably will engage with a vast amount of different opinions as a reporter and should never take them personally, although I might be right.
The Namibian code of ethics states,“While a journalist is entitled to have his own political and other opinions, the newspaper or broadcaster must recognize and give due consideration to the opinions of others in the community”.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but views expressed on social media, are personal and in no manner should be used as a reflection of how objective and credible a certain publication or journalist is. It’s a platform where one indulges in their idiosyncrasies such as “radical” personal opinions, odd tastes in music and pictures of their grumpy cats attempting to scratch them.
However, as a journalist, I believe pride has the ability to burn down contact lists and sources that take a vast amount of experience to acquire, thus I responded in civil manner and the debate ended with promises of more enlightenment on the bill.
Although most people may think that journalist are without a soul, or should not engage in topics they write on, one must keep in mind, journalist make it a point to know about an extremely wide array of topics without great depth, it’s how we stay objective, thus instead of pointing fingers at the media for misinforming the public, an approach of enlightenment should be taken.