Tag Archive | New Media

New Media, Ethics and How To Stop Journalists Being Killed

The term of phrase ‘New Media’ either has a thousand meanings, else is extremely misunderstood, or is grossly abused. It is one of those emergent linguistic anomalies that everyone has heard of but no one seems to really understand. Apparently because, being new – and thus perceived as trendy, edgy, disruptive – everyone wants to be a part of it.

Except of course, those for whom antiquity is revered.

What New Media Means To Me

Conventional media looks down their nose at new media, just as ‘old money’ scorns ‘new money’, or as conventional wisdom scolds the daring of innovation. But their distaste belies their fear. For ‘old media’, ‘new media’ doesn’t just make them feel their age – it represents an existential threat.

No one likes to feel behind the curve – least of all the well-heeled and comfortable. What they cannot undermine they appropriate, and sometimes they do both. For what is more coveted than an undervalued asset?

To the disinformation dinosaurs, ‘New Media’ is anyone or thing that sprouts up to compete with them.

Many digital platforms consider themselves ‘New Media’, as by one definition they need only have an on-line presence and the internet as their primary method of transmitting information in order to qualify by default.

Yet very smart people have debated the term at length and asserted many different meanings. Quoting more than a dozen books and invoking stylish terms like “remediation”, “digitisation” and even “Millenial Media”, the academics use of the term is equally broad as that of the public.

However to me, a citizen journalist, the high-stakes dice game of truth-telling makes it far more emotive, subjective: new media is a promise; a hope; a covenant. Salvation.

The promise that anyone can partake in journalism; not just those who are classically trained or commercially endorsed by their behemoth corporate benefactors.

The hope that the voice of eye-witnesses on the ground can penetrate the haze of public relations spin and paid agenda, propagating truth.

A covenant; that the voices of the people are more sacred than money.

Salvation: as we stated in the Occupied NZ Herald nearly 1000 on-line editions ago (automated news aggregation for the win); “The mainstream media has let us down & it is now up to us, the public, to provide for ourselves services for which we have so long relied upon inherently corrupt corporates to provide.” We don’t have to bitch and moan, scream and curse at their shortcomings anymore. We simply replace them. In doing so, we are our own salvation.

Ethics

To me, new media is about people of conscience taking up the reins of the profession, regardless of whether they are paid to do so.  It is also about ethics – real journalistic ethics. Not just the ones you hear about but the ones you don’t, and not just paid lip service by conventional media but as reflected in the heroic deeds of everyday citizen journalists.

In journalism school, budding reporters are taught; to verify information; be accurate and provide context; cite source; update information; all the good common sense stuff that appears at the top of the Society for Professional Journalists Code of Ethics and which every media outlet will tell you they adhere to.

But what appears at the bottom? What are the less well-heeled ethical principles, dusty, inconvenient and long-forgotten?

Quoting from the aforementioned Code of Ethics:

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So, no accepting funds from political factions to co-opt activism movements or in order to push paid agendas in the guise of news or traveling to cover a commercially-sponsored I.T. conference, tweeting photos of the breakfast spread and then quoting the Cloud Solutions Sales Manager word-for-word.

But wait, there’s more:

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As someone special put it – who can afford to do that in this day and age of capitalism? Only those journalists already spurned and on their way out tend to whistle-blow against their own organisations.

Thus the industry tendency is to See No Evil/Hear No Evil and just shut up entirely. None of which serves the public – which according to the Code of Ethics is the primary responsibility of ethical journalists. Nor does it reform their organisations, who are seldom held to account other than by public opinion as the result of the occasional media scandal.

Journalistic Apathy: S.N.A.F.U.

Journalists own apathy actually endangers other journalists who do whistle-blow on major issues only to be met by the resounding silence of their peers. That silence enables vested interests, in some cases, to eliminate those whistle-blowers from future discourse. This is precisely what appears to have happened to US-born PressTV journalist Serena Shim.

The total absence of mainstream outrage at the circumstances of her passing equate to a green light to malevolent forces to continue to physically endanger and/or outright kill journalists as acts of political expediency.

It’s almost as if the industry thinks that their silence will save them, when history so clearly demonstrates that it will not. For as they black out their own vanguards and watch on as they are defenestrated, the net pulls tighter, and those who thought their silence bought them protection soon find that they are next in line for targeting and suppression.

For injustice knows no bounds and is only shamed into inaction when it is brought into the light.

As the famous quote goes – ‘if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have taken the side of the oppressor‘ and the oppressor will not be loyal to you for it; he will instead laugh in your face at your stupidity as he turns his forces upon you.

Psychopathic control and its mechanisms are now entrenched in for-profit structures that mean every target they successfully take down empowers them to identify and attack another.

Those who fail to rise in defense of the victims may count the days until they are next on the list. Consoling themselves by saying “but my dissent is not radical, I work for change within the system” is a short-sighted folly, for as each radical falls, the target market constricts and soon enough it is the reformists, and then ultimately everyday civilians, who find themselves on the wrong side of the profit margins of the private investigation and security industries.

How To Prevent Journalists Being Killed

In the movie ‘American Gangster’ the mother of Denzel Washington’s character tells him everyone knows ‘you don’t shoot cops’ inferring that in doing so you will bring 1000 more cops down on your head. Thus to violate that rule is the ultimate act of stupidity for any criminal.

So why doesn’t everyone know that you do not kill or stalk a journalist? Doing so should logically bring 1000 more journalists down on your head!

If there was an addition to the Code of Ethics that states journalists are obliged to rigorously investigate physical harm caused to other journalists – or a pledge that journalists took, to show solidarity to other journalists who have been killed, by vigorously investigating their murders en masse – how long would it take malicious actors to realise that the cost of harming reporters outweighed the benefit?

But to my knowledge no such ethic or pledge exists, and thus Michael Hastings‘ death goes uninvestigated, Serena Shim’s death goes uninvestigated, although it is widely accepted that both were killed for political reasons, and mainstream journalists continue to intellectually castrate themselves out of fear, ignorance, lack of international organisation or all of the aforementioned.

Murderers and their state sponsors feel their tactics are rewarded with results and the ultimate ‘chilling effect’ ensues and is exacerbated.

At what point do journalists organise and fight back? What good are adhering to any journalistic ethics if they will turn blind eyes to such pronounced injustice?

When will journalists realise that their ability to protect themselves can only be measured in their willingness to protect others?

Throughout history silence has never prevented atrocities, and many who themselves fell victim asked ‘why us? We didn’t do anything wrong!’

The truth is, you don’t have to do anything wrong. You just have to be next in line and the greater your proclivity for sitting silently as others fall before you; the sooner your number will come up.

Trying to justify the suffering of your compatriots as being a natural result of their political views rather than a deliberate crime by their persecutors is victim-blaming and does firmly place one on the side of injustice.

The NZ Media Apocalypse

In New Zealand, leftist media tycoons blacked out radical left voices (quite openly – with threats to do so, ultimately followed through on) and blatantly co-opted their platforms. This occurred while the radical left was mercilessly hunted by state agencies and their private sub-contractors, and media did not cover it. The public were largely unaware of the extent to which we were being targeted but the media knew, and they said nothing. Until Nicky Hager‘s Dirty Politics, our dismemberment was a taboo topic, and even then Hager’s book mostly names, out of respect, perpetrators rather than victims. One line makes note of the ‘dozens of journalists‘ whose lives and employment were interfered with in order to exert political pressure and interfere with their work – with horrific yet passing mentions of child service agencies amongst other government departments, being actively engaged in the oppression.

That again and again, other so-called journalists tacitly accepted the repression by failing to rise in support of their peers, is a timeless shame upon them.

As the radical left broke down and became even more disparate and decentralised under years of sustained state abuse, sure enough, the mainstream left media became the new targets. So blatantly so that even successful shows with huge viewing audiences and pulling power were outright canned and other much-loved hosts desecrated. Large media outlets now finally openly decry this forced attrition of their ranks without ever once stopping to acknowledge that they had every reason to see this coming. Now that they feel the heat themselves, they are outraged. When it was the new media vanguard taking the heat, they were flippant, even pompous in their privilege.

Many are taking refuge in the largest-remaining state-owned radio station, a platform already known to be under threat. As the media spectrum is forcefully reshaped around them, the luxury of disdain has turned into exasperation. They now look to the same ragged activist communities to support a counter-offensive, that they spectated the governmental undermining of all these years.

They look to the traditional infrastructure of the left – Labour – ignoring the fact that the executive of this infrastructure has always fiddled while Rome burns. Thus Labour will not save them. Just as it did not and could not prevent the passage of the GCSB bill. Just as it will not prevent the passage of the TPPA. The system is designed that way; for both wings to serve the same masters. Precisely the reality that drives people towards ‘radicalism’ in the first place.

Until the inherent insanity of the current regime, operating under a one-vote-every-three-years-while-we-destroy-the-country-daily electoral system, is fundamentally addressed, these conflicts will remain. After all; the entire First World can allow millions of people to text vote on American Idol every Sunday night but God forbid they be politically engaged in domestic affairs on a weekly basis. That would be unthinkable to the power elite and dramatically undermine its choke-hold.

Imagine if we could vote on a per Bill basis? How much money could we save by putting Parliament out of a job entirely? Unthinkable, radical concepts, and it appears the new target pool of the New Zealand media would rather fall on their collective swords than address them.

To them I say: Have the guts to share your platforms with those more ‘radical’ than you and act in their defense – or else don’t be surprised when you find that they are gone and you are next on the chopping block!

As for gutless journalists who shy away from covering the misfortunes and deaths of other journalists, I say:


 

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

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