Political Journalism – Is Fact an essential ingredient?

Journalism.png

I thought so, till i read Sarah Ditum’s article.

Yesterday, one of my good friends forwarded an article by Sarah Ditum in New Statesman, titled “Corbyn’s supporters loved his principles. But he ditched them in the EU campaign”.

As you might have guessed from the title, the article vainly and pathetically tries to establish how Corbyn deceived his supporters, due to his stand to stay with Remain.

First of all, I admire the author’s psychic powers in knowing how Corbyn and his supporters think!  Sarah Ditum “knows” without doubt that Corbyn “never supported Remain” and “Corbyn’s greatest supporters don’t rate him as a statesman”.

These are the abilities – ability to read other’s mind and ability to write sweeping statements which generalize and stereotype common public – that alienate a journalist from facts and their readers.

Authoring “Corbyn must go” and calling him liar are not characteristics of a journalist; instead they are the words of a politically-biased person, who is frustrated and bewildered by Corbyn’s increasing popularity – within Labour and in the country.

I support Labour.

I support Corbyn as Labour’s leader for his stands and principles.

I voted for Leave.

All of above might look contradictory to Sarah Ditum; but not for me.

Why?  There are a two main reasons:

  1. EU referendum was not debated and voted based on party or political affiliations.  Instead there were deep divisions within all parties (bar UKIP, of course) between LEAVE and REMAIN supporters.  Just like Tories, Labour supporters too were divided.
  1. As mentioned by Corbyn in his speech, “Labour party was overwhelmingly for staying IN” and as the leader of his party which believes in democracy, Corbyn stood with majority to support REMAIN. At the same time, a large number of Labour party members were equally convinced that a LEAVE vote was the right choice and went ahead with their Labour for Leave    The Labour Leave were not victimised or thrown out of the party.  Instead, they were respected for their stand.  Why? Refer #1

Does the EU referendum result force Cobyn to resign?  No.  Why?  Refer #1.

Does the EU referendum result, by any chance, a no-confidence in Corbyn as leader?  Emphatically no.  Why?  Refer #2.

If any, Corbyn’s stand to campaign for REMAIN gives more credibility to him as a leader, as he decided to stay with the majority decision within the party – even if that decision is against his will.  Be very clear, I do not have the same psychic powers of Sarah Ditum to say with absolute conviction that Corbyn in his heart and mind “never supported Remain”.  Merely agreeing, just to put forward my point.

Read this along with Corbyn’s apology on Labour’s role in Iraq war.  This is just one example for the true characteristics of a leader who while tirelessly fought against an unjust war in past, in present is apologizing for someone else’s wrong-doings.

The growth in Labour membership after Corbyn’s leadership is another indication how popular Corbyn and his ideologies are.  If I am correct, no other political leader can claim this popularity in UK’s modern political history.  Labour’s membership now stands at 500,000.  That is 100,000 more members after referendum results.  These quantifiable figures are just enough to show the hollowness of Sarah Ditum’s core argument.

Do not get me wrong.  I am not a Corbyn worshiper.  For me, Corbyn is not a demi-god, but someone who represents the wishes, demands, vision, will and political stance of Labour grass-roots.

I admire the audacity of Sarah Ditum that allows to pen statements like “Corbyn supporters should know this: he has failed you, and will continue to fail you as long as he is party leader.”

Thank you very much for the advice! But no thank you, the party has a way to find out who its leader should be, and the party voted for Corbyn as Leader with 60% support, only 10+ months ago.

Ditum continue to write that Corbyn “will achieve nothing beyond grinding Labour ever further into smallness and irrelevance”.   You do not need to be a journalist; any person who is interested in UK’s daily political news can clearly see who is grinding Labour into irrelevance by going against the grass roots.  At a time when the party should be working together to campaign against Tory austerities and the shallowness of current government, it is shameful that some of the Labour MPs are trying to sabotage the party’s will for their selfishness.

Let me repeat:

The “ability” to read other’s minds and to write sweeping statements which generalise and stereotype common public alienates a journalist from facts and their readers. 

Authoring “Corbyn must go” and calling him liar are not characteristics of a journalist; instead they are the words of a politically-biased person, who is frustrated and bewildered by Corbyn’s increasing popularity – within Labour and in the country.

 

Voicemail scandal and question of morality in our times….

UK media is full of the voicemail scandal in last couple of days.  It is alleged that voicemail of  Milly Dowler was hacked in to by a private investigator working for News of the World, back in March 2002 when she was reported missing.  [Milly’s body was found later in 2002, and in June 2011, Levi Bellfield was found guilty and sentenced to life prison.]

The issue of voicemail scandal raise questions on many levels.  I am concerned more on the moral grounds.   The sheer thought of someone knowingly hacked in to voicemail of a missing, probably abducted/murdered 13-year-old, just to make few column headlines in their tabloid is shocking.  Surely, someone high enough in News of the World hierarchy would’ve approved and agreed this to go-ahead?  They were not even concerned that this could have an adverse effect on the search for the missing girl.  What does that say about the journalistic ethics of News of the World?  How much low can these multi-national news corporates stoop down  to sell few additional copies of their tabloid?  No one thinks this is an isolated incident – it is just the tip of an ugly huge iceberg.  Media has already reported that phone hacking might have happened in Holly Wells /Jessica Chapman case, and also in case of 7/7 London terror victims.  

It is very welcome that a number of businesses, including Ford, have already withdrawn advertising from News of the World.  Public enquiry promised by David Cameron too is welcomed.  The enquiry should not only look in to the voicemail hacking and how the investigator got hold of the mobile number, but also into morality of two greate professions – Journalism and Police.  Strong allegations that “rough” police officers are ready to do anything for money is an absolute disgrace.  Justice delayed is justice denied.  Whether the public enquiry costs a lot of money and/or time, government should go ahead with it as early as possible – as no one can put a price on society’s morality and victim’s/relative’s sentiments.  No one can put a price on the trust and expectations we have on our media and police.  As always, just a few journalists/ police officers are ruining the reputation of whole of  their respective professions.  The corrupt should be brought to daylight and severely punished.   

What we should read along with this is the possible takeover of BSkyB by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which News of the World is part of.  While it could be argued that these two are separate incidents, how can we be sure that the News giant has separate rules/morals for different wings of their empire?  The way senior executives are transferred (Rebekah Brooks under whose tenure the phone hacking happened is now the Chief Executive of News International)  between these subsidiaries , how easy is it for News Corp to prove that the hands of its executives are clean and ethics are undiluted?