In film and TV series journalists are often depicted as either ethical heroes or devious bastards. Mostly it is the latter that seems to be popular. Because that’s how most of us are, right? We only think about ourselves, have no regard for laws or ethics — we just want to write the story and get our fame via the byline. The more nasty it is, the better.
Which makes me think about the good old saying, life imitating art. Because that is what seems to be happening in some countries. Not that these journalists are praised for what they do, except for their editors asking them for more, but what they produce is lapped up by the masses — then, for some reason, the masses spits it out back at them, accusing them for being bad journalists.
Ironic isn’t it. We seem to want hard-hitting, investigative journalism, but secretly many seem to love the drama these bastard journalists and reporters create.
So am I responsible for these bastard journalists? What more can I do, other than working ethically and criticising their unethical ways. Should I hunt them down like animals? Then what?
I can of course also say that not all journalists are like that, but then I’ve suddenly used, what has become, the most hated phrase at the moment. A phrase that, when used, suddenly means admission that you’re not only part of the problem and don’t understand the issue, but also guilty of the acts committed by these bastards.
So logical, right?
Suddenly the idea of not painting everyone with the same brush isn’t valid anymore. It’s actually rather ironic, as we live in an age where we are very focused on not generalising and labelling each other, we suddenly admire the power of painting everyone with the same brush.
I see four logical fallacies emerge here.
The first is known as tu quoque, where if you try to argue that it’s wrong to paint everyone with the same brush, you will be told you’re wrong for claiming it’s wrong to generalise.
The second is known as bandwagoning, where the validation of painting everyone with the same brush is that it’s how the majority views it, therefor the majority is right and you’re wrong.
The third is known as no true scotsman, where you are accused of being part of the problem because no true journalist would never use the phrase not all journalists are like that.
The fourth is known as appeal to emotion, where you are accused of being emotionally detached for not wanting to paint everyone with the same brush.
Basically these four fallacies legitimises the use of strawman arguments and especially ad hominem attacks.
What is important to understand, and even accept, is that in some situations it is fair and valid to retort with not all X are like that. It might be difficult to accept in some situations, and more so difficult to accept that reality, but in the long run it can be extremely damning for a large group of people to be painted with the same brush.
Even worse, it can hurt a cause far greater than those whom’ve been painted with the same brush.
It’s not something that exclusively happens to journalists. This happens to police officers, politicians, bankers, companies, doctors, hipsters, musicians and even citizens of certain countries (I could go on in ad nauseum).
Not everything is black or white. Sometimes there are more shades in between these two colours.
Unfortunately it’s easier to view the world in black and white, because trying to understand something, removing the chaff from the wheat, takes time, patience and understanding — sometimes even a bit of humility.
If you are going to ~~generalise~~ be passionate about a cause, at least see to it you don’t end up as a hypocrite. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche, He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
So no, not all journalists are bastards. And by saying that doesn’t mean or validate I am one of those bastards. I do my best at adhering to good journalistic ethics and criticise poor journalism when I see it. If that’s not good enough for you, that’s your problem, not mine. Especially if you want me to support your cause for improving journalism.