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category international | irish social forum | opinion/analysis author Tuesday August 07, 2012 22:46author by Gale Vogel - Ethics in journalism. Report this post to the editors

An observational opinion on the ethics associated with journalism with relation to indymedia and other online forums. The influence of group dynamics on opinion is evident throughout internet posts. Opinion can at times be reinforced through focussed forums. Is there balance in this?

Journalism as an ideal is about finding the truth of any particular story. This involves seeking a balanced view from all parties and not focussing on any vested group. Vested groups can be of particular orientation and be comprised of like minded members. Those of like mind seek affirmation. The null effect of this is that other minds tend not to be heard. This is why the ethics of journalism must be applied thoroughly, completely and honestly.

A balanced view therefore requires that questions be asked of both the accuser and the accused. More importantly and perhaps more unfortunately it also requires that answers be provided. Often these answers are not forthcoming from the accused. Through indymedia these questions have been openly asked. There is much on indymedia claimed as fact, that these are posted in this particular forum may be considered more debate than mere journalism. However, this is a simplification of the reality. It is a debate of an accusatory kind that does in fact require balance. That 'information' requires either confirmation or contradiction using evidence. While we are perhaps convinced that the 'information' may be accurate and true, the opportunity for those to argue, confirm, contradict or explain is available. Indymedia is an open forum that allows anyone to post 'information'. This also affords the possibility of misinformation. Any simple arguing of a point may be met with criticism and even ridicule, but requires respect and listening if the truth is to be found. The open criticism apparent on the site garners fear and this fear if effective serves to silence certain opinions or orientations.

The silencing of one point of view creates imbalance. We beseech those accused to be outspoken and to answer the questions, thereby clarifying the issues raised. It is not for the purpose of confirmation that we seek answers but for the purpose of clarification. An impression that silence in the face of accusatory questioning implies guilt is perhaps a wrong one. Silence may also be viewed as fear. The openness that allows a forum of this kind to excel needs to be inviting. This expression of inclusion is needed even though the opinion of some may be unpalatable to others. Here we not only discuss opinion, we also discuss evidence. Where evidential information is highlighted, answers are most definitely needed. Public available information, through company records and institutional records often requires explanation when questioned. The absence of answers and at times the deliberate interference with the questions, especially when in the public interest may be considered concealment. In such cases it is a right to demand and to listen to answers.

I would therefore beseech all concerned with truth to be open and above all honest. It is also my belief that in order to achieve any level of truth we must be prepared to accept views at variance with our own. Acceptance is not the adoption of these views but an agreement that they may have validity. Perhaps the only sentiment that we should not accept is 'rejection'. Social rejection is the exclusion of any individual or individuals from a social group usually arising out of them being different or having different views. There is in rejection imbalance and in this an inherent absence of truth.

author by sockypublication date Wed Aug 08, 2012 09:08Report this post to the editors

Surely balance lies in having different forums presenting different sides of things, then the reader sees both sides and comes to their own conclusion?

All too often the mistake made by left forums is trying too hard to be fair to the right POV, meanwhile, the unscrupulous right is busy lying it's ass off in it's forums with no conscience..

The result is that the right get reasonably fair treatment on left forums and there is complete right bias on their own forums.

That's not balance either.

The left need to present their POV strongly on their forums, The right need to present theirs strongly

Then the reader needs to read both forums and draw their own conclusions.

That system cannot work when the left are busy being far too lenient with the right for fear of criticism of their balance.

All too often when left wing opinions are expressed on a forum like indymedia, right wing trolls come here to try and sabotage any proper discussion by trolling. The same disruptive behaviour is not in any way as prevalent on more right wing forums from left wing posters.

Also your post takes no account of systematic astro turfing (fake grass root support) and professional deliberate cyber interference operations or "hasbara" on opinion forming websites. There is a lot of money pumped into such operations in the US. I recall there was a new york times article highlighting the spending on this sort of thing and it was an eye opener.

Probably not so much on indymedia these days but there used to be a few posters with impossible sets of opinions and ridiculous levels of cognitive dissonance which seemed only likely to be sustainable with regular cash injections!! ;-)

Left posters should not shirk in presenting their views as they see them on their home forums, biased or not. The balance does not have to be perfect on individual forums for there to be overall balance. In fact trying to do this can cause a net imbalance in favour of an unscrupulous right who tend to have much more money and control over much more of the media.

Readers can easily read from multiple websites to get their balance and form their final opinions.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:54Report this post to the editors

I'm sticking with not countering propaganda with polemic reaction...I don't think it serves any purpose to promote counter-bias, rather than accuracy and an attempt at retaining veracity rather than 'winning' their arguments.

I'll keep crediting the readers with enough intelligence to discern all bias..or at least enough interest to try.

author by sockypublication date Mon Aug 13, 2012 14:46Report this post to the editors

maybe you should call yourself optimisticus diablos!! ;-)

I'm a little more of a pessimist myself. I think you sometimes need to chisel things into people's foreheads to get through to them in between episodes of xfactor and geordie shore!! ;-)

But usually FOX / RTE / Indo / CNN / Al Jazeera have got there with the chisel first and are relentless!!

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Mon Aug 13, 2012 18:14Report this post to the editors

..with optimism.

I just think ideology and propaganda are elements of the pattern that gets its rocks off on polemics rather than attempted construction..however fruitless the latter exercise.

author by Olivepublication date Wed Aug 15, 2012 07:18Report this post to the editors

The best thing is for commited activists who visit this site to read calmly and only reply in logical calm terms to posts and articles that appear. Don't fall into the emotive traps laid by provocateurs. Think clearly, keep calm and carry on. If you let other people get your goat you are halfway towards coming under their control.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Wed Aug 15, 2012 09:29Report this post to the editors

..half their strategy(and we see it working all the time)is to create steam and smoke so as to block and distract from information posted.

First see is their even a grain of truth in the comment; concede that point if it exists; take on board any criticism of your own argument(the 'maybe I'm not infallible either' policy), and respond with reason...not propagandistic heat.

If a comment angers you, walk around the block and laugh at least once before replying.

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