Journalism Should Not Be Fiction

Freedom's Journal graphic reproduction newspaper cc by lothlaurien.ca

I just read a very disturbing Haaretz article, An inside look at the WikiLeaks revolution, in that the author assumes facts not in evidence.

Bradley Manning has been charged but not heard. The word “alleged” is traditionally used in real journalism to describe charges laid but unproven. Under American law, that means that Bradley Manning is innocent– it’s called “The Presumption of Innocence.”

fiction

As a fiction author, when I am writing a script or a novel, I can ascribe emotions and feelings to the characters I write because they are my creations.

journalism

When I write a news article, however, I stick to recounting only what is factually known.

It is not appropriate to describe emotions and feelings and exact actions of others as facts, particularly respecting events at which I have not been present, when writing a news piece, or even an opinion piece.

reality

The sum of the case against Bradley Manning seems based on an alleged confession to a potentially unreliable witness. No evidence has been proven in a court of law. The case has not been heard. Allegations and hearsay are not facts.

The same actually holds true for the Swedish charges brought against Mr. Assange. There the facts of that case are equally unproven. He has not been convicted of anything, yet like Private Manning, Assange has been deprived of his liberty. [Although there is a world of difference between the two, deprivation of liberty is serious business.

perhaps a career change is in order?

Haaretz’ writer Yossi Melman should consider writing novels where flights of fancy are acceptable, even admirable. Writing fictional accounts in the guise of reportage is certainly not admirable, and in fact is generally considered unacceptable. Fraudulent, even. The point to remember is that the news is generally about real people. What one says or writes can have real repercussions.

I recommend reading Cynthia Bazinet’s more in depth look at this dreadful excuse for ‘journalism’ here. This goes well beyond the watch dog press being dead.

2 thoughts on “Journalism Should Not Be Fiction

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