Is Happiness in the Media in the Public Interest?
The most common justification that journalists make for their work is that it is “in the public interest.” It is this notion that underscores the moral authority of journalism to ask hard questions of people in power, to invade the privacy of others and to sometimes test the limits of ethical practice in order to discover the truth.
But what exactly is the public interest? And how do journalists ensure that they always respect it in the way they work? The following text goes some way to providing answers and owes much to a recent posting of Bob Egginton in the journalism support site Media Helping Media.
Put simply, the public interest is about what matters to everyone in society. It is about the common good, the general welfare and the security and well-being of everyone in the community we serve.
The media has been the purveyor of bad news, scary news and news that sends us into terror. The last 2 years have been a signficant case in point.
Imagine a media that presented news by depicting unbiased facts and then offering a positive solution of how we can solve that problem? This is what empowerment looks like. Disempowerment is doom and gloom.
What if the media reported all the good that happens, when people are not attacked but helped, when we do not have a war but peace breaks out, where women are not attacked by men but men show respect and protection and visa versa.
Where are the real good news stories in our media dominating rather than relegated to the back to keep us coming? Imagine the real news of how incredible ‘We the People’ really are? How much we help each other.
I was in the media and ran a program ‘Bridges to Peace’ for a few years. I had experts come on the program. I have to say I did run stories that were around international relations and informed of problems. I think many in the media get caught up in the leading stories as we are all shaped by a global narrative that is drawn to events that are shocking, unjust and harmful.
My peace and happiness work did bring on air those stories of the heroes in our community who were advancing peace, conflict resolution or demonstrating issues by long walks, hitching with a caravan without a car (for love), putting on performances, those who were change agents and uplifting others with positive initiatives. This is what feel’s good and gives us faith that there is good in a world that seems so dark at times.
I envisage a media in the future that shapes our world in the profile of truth but the truth of how loving we are, how kind we can be, how respectful and the small acts of random kindness we do without even thinking. For so long we see a fearful world, I see a world full of possibility. I see a world where your happy destiny is unavoidable.
What do you see and feel?