All of us carry bias. Our beliefs and opinions are influenced … When we first meet someone, we already have a narrative we tell about them, just by looking at them. DANA STACHOWIAK Literacy Now
Acts of Journalism, Acts of Literacy
Journalists must check their biases daily As best they can. The Fourth Estate Journalism Code of Practice sets forth principles and practices for fairness and accuracy, accepted sources All too often the power brokers and balance Often troubling. These principles and practices are a necessary awareness for people engaging in ‘acts of journalism.’ Reporting tells about events, situations, and in a watchdog role, problems. Framing and social empathy elevate newsgathering to the “Seek truth and report it” ideals meant to enlighten the public. What the public deems to be true is seen as necessary for justice and the foundation of democracy and fundamental to the role of journalism.
Australian journalist, editor, and educator Alan Sunderland suggests that the most obvious change in journalism is that it is no longer solely the preserve of the professional journalist. He is working on an updated code that can serve people committing themselves to acts of journalism every day as they work to inform their communities about matters of public interest.
Our existence is an experiment in democracy.
Citizen journalism is part of our birthright.
Discerning Reliable Information in All that is Freely Spoken is Challenging
What is free speech? Is it a prayer, picture, song, rap, poem, story, tweet, blog, flag, bumper sticker, money Campaign financing, or video Even video captured via smartphone? Is it what a politician says to followers, a preacher to congregants, a conversation at dinner, a lesson in a classroom, a made-for-TV movie? Is it strictly related to the First Amendment, and therefore, the role of government? Should the message, method of delivery, and speaker, each be subject to scrutiny? Can comingling perceptions about the speaker and the method of transmitting a message heighten one’s sense of the message’s believability? Is government, when engaging in crowd control, as people exercise their right to assemble, obligated to ensure equity of viewpoints for those choosing to assemble? Sometimes rights compete, and that is never simple.
Is it saying whatever comes top of mind: what a bully, robber, abuser says to a victim? Or is it intentional speech? How is truth-telling, and the source of truth, important to the discourse on truth in the modern world? Debates among the early Greeks found a correlation between belief and truth for the teller, and the listener’s perceptions of the teller’s morality a potential danger to democracy. In contrast, some posited that evidentiary truth, inclined toward science and fact-finding, may better serve a democracy founded on the exercise of power by the people, equal before the law. Their word for free speech which ranged in meaning from chatter to truth depending on its usage was “parrhesia.” This text presented by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his discourse on the problems of truth, argues that parrhesia is a risk to democracy.
Greeks: Democracy … is condemned to give equal place to all forms of parrhesia … Because parrhesia is given even to the worst citizens, the overwhelming inﬂuence of bad, immoral, or ignorant speakers may lead the citizenry into tyranny, or may otherwise endanger the city. Hence parrhesia may be dangerous for democracy itself.
Foucault: Thus this problem … of a necessary antinomy between parrhesia—freedom of speech—and democracy, inaugurated a long impassioned debate concerning the precise nature of the dangerous relations which seemed to exist between democracy, logos, freedom, and truth.
Source: Parrhesia and the Crisis of Democratic Institutions: Discourse & Truth, Problematization of Parrhesia – Six lectures given by Michel Foucault at the University of California at Berkeley, Oct.-Nov. 1983
A long, long time ago, civil discourse—person to person, face to face, or in a letter—became public predominantly by rumor A custom kept alive by my grandmother in a small town in Vermont. The printing press modified speech by both expanding the audience and ceding power to those in control of the tools. Speech to more than one person at a time is about access: the right to assemble Now with social distancing, media ownership, and rules of engagement. For example, the perils of a hot mic and not yelling fire in a crowded place.
In the digital age, free speech is morphing once again. There are more challenges for those of us committed to the ideals underpinning this freedom. For advocates, free speech is broader than a constitutional right. Speaking freely embodies the concept of speaking truthfully and boldly, while aware of the obligations and risks. Most advocates embrace the idea that the absence of speech to counter radical views is dangerous for all, but few would suggest they are absolutists, putting individual speech above all else. In a Free Speech Center article, September 30, 2020, David L. Hudson Jr., professor, attorney and first amendment scholar, wrote that even Justice Ginsberg, “…balancing First Amendment rights against a variety of other interests,” sometimes supported “opinions that did not favor First Amendment claimants.” Some countervailing rights were copyright, discrimination, and situationally qualified immunity, putting safety first, also part of the ethical standards of journalism.
“For the most part, those are our ideals, our treasured First Amendment and the notion that in our nation we are many and yet we are one … “
Source: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Feb. 2017) In a discussion moderated by NPR’s Nina Totenberg and co-sponsored by the Newseum and the Supreme Court Fellows Association in Washington.
Many endorse inclusive and reflective discourse. St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuit Order and an influential figure in the missionary, educational, and charitable works of the Roman Catholic Church, suggested that reflection entails removing oneself from the situation to look at it independently and objectively. Objectivity is an essential tool in a world full of information in all forms inclusive of disinformation which is intended to mislead and in the case of government would be called propaganda. The prevalence of disinformation was a significant precursor to our review of our role and adoption of a #LiteracyInformation Resolution.
WHEREAS, disinformation has always existed but the unprecedented communication power of the Internet and social media, linguistic virility (misinformation spreading quickly from person to person behaving like viral mechanisms) has reached epic proportions …
Before the nearly universally accessible Interweb of commerce and resources, people depended on public libraries to search for information or conversations with elders. Today, reliable information is available with equal footing to the cancerous misinformation, disinformation, and ‘spin’ information by vested interests. Equal footing necessitates tools for discernment Some would save the word discernment for understanding if one is called to a life of faith. It is difficult, even challenging, when thoughts and prayers are inadequate.
Misinformation causes real harm to people’s lives, health, finances and to democracy. We need good evidence on how to tackle it. | Media and Information Literacy Research FullFact Briefing 2.2020 supported by Luminate
Recognizing the challenge and the peace of mind that come with understanding, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) provides media and information literacy resources that align UNESCO’s mandate to “promote the free flow of ideas by word and image”. The higher goal is ‘Building peace in the minds of men and women’ Not the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Community TV is not the media. It is a resource for citizen media makers, some who may strive to commit to acts of journalism. It is a public resource for expression which may also be seen as necessary for justice and democracy. Both creators and consumers are to be encouraged to confront their assumptions about how the world works. It is the responsibility of creators to release accurate material, and it is the duty of consumers to be aware of what sources can be relied on and what contents can be trusted as well.
The purpose of our #InformationLiteracy initiative is to help efface biases in our communities at-large where there may be strongly held non fact-based opinions being espoused. There is always more than one truth, but democracy works best when many truths are heard for the purpose of governance.
Community TV Creation Story
Community TV organizations are committed to providing the tools & stage for free speech. However, the roots in our creation story are entwined with the lack of opportunity for some stories to be told. Our existence is an experiment in democracy. Citizen journalism is part of our birthright.
Advocacy for the underserved voices, first-person stories, and local stories is at the heart of our movement, not, “I have an opinion. I deserve a stage and a microphone” To amplify that opinion. Similar to our constitutional founding fathers, advocates have concerns about balance, power and representation. Unlike our founding fathers, citizen media advocates are a rainbow of representation. Advocates believe that communities can come together when they can identify shared values and reach a consensus on concerns and representative responses. This belief is the democratic bedrock of community television.
Community TV: Public, Education and Government Access
WPAA-TV is not a news organization or a media production house. It is a regulated community resource charged primarily with enabling pubic access television. The public access aspect of Community TV is about enabling citizens to be media makers.
In 2007, regulators expanded the role of WPAA to include aspects of Education and Government access television. Education access was intended to be a platform for distance learning and a resource for media education. Government access, a public affairs venue, was to provide transparency on the actions of the government on behalf of citizens with gavel-to-gavel production of government meetings and public hearings. WPAA was also to be a resource to provide the community with updates on the actions of government from elected officials and civil servants.
Media Training in Community TV Organizations
Exemplification Do as I do is one method of improving literacy. Freeman social media posts selected to exemplify substantive and accurate analysis will include the hashtag #Information Literacy. Selected articles, research or opinion pieces are meant to tackle trending misinformation. Expected topics—justice, health, and government action—are those most often connected to purveyors of social engineering or fraud. Criteria for selection of content to be redistributed in the #Information Literacy are reliant on research, data, primary sources, relatively unknown facts and triangulated with credible sources.
The design of future producer training will strive to provide equivalency with pre- and post-production knowledge. Basic understanding of what differentiates content, i.e., news vs. opinion, ethics, issues, and challenges; objectivity in representing reality; and practices such as labeling, citing sources, and other efforts to be transparent will be part of pre-production training. We will go a step beyond design, setting a tone with elements such as the use of color, metaphors, and typeface appropriate for the subject matter to accountability, responsibility, and intent.
Although documentaries are constructs of truth, they can reveal conspiracies or be conspiracies. Style choice and execution can amplify the credibility of any production, even those produced with the intent to bend the truth.
Technical challenges with audio or video could keep a story from community TV distribution. This is less so with content. Content cannot be censored if it complies with being noncommercial, is not slanderous or obscene. Since lack of technical viability has the highest likelihood to prohibit content distribution and comes with a substantial learning curve, technical training is foremost in preparing prospective users as citizen media producers.
Content can be improved, not censored. Training can improve watchability. The media makers’ goal, after all, is not making media as much as it is having their voices heard. Therefore, from the onset, community TV organizations were actually required to provide training. For decades that training has been of the ‘lights, camera, action’ variety, and post-production editing.