Posted by: lokmahara | November 16, 2009

The Dark portion of Journalism

Visual The chapter of ‘why’ Question and its value

The journalists or the news reporters tell us who, what, where, when and how all at great length but, what about ‘why?’ One can marry, there is no the ‘why’ question. A child born, there also no ‘why’ question arises. Obviously no need to expand the story before the want ness of ‘why’ question appears but, when the story demands the resolution of ‘why’, then one or more phrases must be added to contextualize the story.

This agenda arouse in USA after the 9/11 attack. An American writer James W. Carey once complained that the ‘why’ question in American journalism remains dark portion. Not known to the people or not explained by the reporters. There is now a belated rush to illuminate this half-forgotten territory in journalism ethics. The weekly published in new York, Newsweek’s front cover, for the edition dated 15th October 2001 promised to answer the question, ‘why the Arabs or Muslims hate Americans’. Really the truth but darkened part of journalism now becomes the anxiety to all of the readers as well as for reporters worldwide. When the two-thirds of newspaper pieces on the Palestinian ‘Intifada’ in which the Phrase, “west Bank” occurs, the Israeli occupation is not mentioned. What is put forward instead as an explanation for the violence? Of the five ‘W’s and one ‘H’ if the journalistic traditional remit, where is the ‘why’? Why do Palestinians throw stones at Israeli soldiers even when they know they will be fired back with live bullets or strapped explosive to their bodies and blow themselves up in public places? To leave out any mention of structural violence’s is to frame the conflict as consisting entirely of exchange of direct violence-not simply an act of omission, but also an act of commission. At least it allows other explanations to prevail by default. One is the ‘ancient hatreds’ theory common to reporting from the Balkans to Indonesia. A piece in the Sunday Ex-press of 15th October 2000 recounted an outbreak of violence in Nazareth. Local Arabs blamed Israeli soldiers for starting if by firing on them – Jewish settlers blamed Arab youths for (literally) throwing the first stone. After two weeks of bloody conflict that has brought Israel to the brink of war, (the Arab youths) declared they were prepared to fight their Jewish enemies to the death. To use the word ‘conflict’ to denote violence is to limit the understanding of the conflict to the events of communal confrontation of Palestinians and Israelis or Arabs and Jewish. The confrontation between these two section (P-I) doesn’t limit as conflict, it has become their occupation since before 33years and remained in daily grind, but why? There is a huge question remained unsolved. The world media says it is a rift between Christianity world verse Islamic worlds….. And so on. But there also the why question is alive?

Reporters or journalists must solve or if not possible, hint the part of this question slightly. Otherwise the reporters will only be the messengers, not be the actual reporters. They must remember one important saying while they are in their assignment ,’the journalist can be the reporters but, only reporters cannot be the journalists .So, they should or must try to pour light to darkened or hidden part of their stories, to the result of ‘why ‘question. It has many difficulties and risks but this profession is based on not other than such risk and the challenges. Inside the pages of News week, international editor Fareed Zakaria contributed a hefty piece examining ‘the roots of rage’. This covered the bitter past of US intervention in the Middle East as well as the Arab world’s homegrown politics stagnation. The Time magazine commissioned a ‘Viewpoint’ from Hazem saghiyeh lamenting “the biasness shown by US” to Israel and America’s cruel insistence on continued sanctions against Iraq”. Plus for historical reason, Muslims and Arabs always feel bitterness towards America for installing and propping up the Shah in Iran, he wrote and for leaving Afghanistan in such a mess after helping the Mujahideen win what that turned out to be the decisive battle of the cold war. But, Sashayed, a columnist for London based Arabic newspaper al-hayat, also blamed the failures of both political and religious reform movements within Islamic societies for perpetuating their importance and subjugation. Both were attempts to project sophisticated, multi-faceted explanations for the attack of 9/11, challenging the “motionlessness”. Another writer Wolff diagnosed the explanation as prompting more violence as autistic- irrational and apocalyptic.

Again the Time magazine urged an understanding that Oshama Bin Laden, the chief suspect had “well articulated plan of action” to expel the US from the Islamic world. Far from the being “shadowy”-another cliché often attached to accounts of terrorists –he had set out this strategy many times. The problems had been that so few are prepared to listen, or to analyze the processes contributing to a context in which such a strategy might be assessed as feasible. The tendency to self examine and explore more for the far-reaching deliberation of ‘why’ question in journalistic view, the Newyork post opposed. On 19the Oct, next moth of the pentagon attack, New York Post in an its edition published “abstracting in ‘why’ question theory, dubiously these deep thinking take us not to the right direction to punish the culprit, the world criminal Osama Bin laden…”. The paper chided “talking heads” busy looking for “root cause …. How they so miss the point, and at America’s peril”? The right response, the editorial continued, when some one asks “why bloody handed killer like Osama Bin laden hates America is: ‘who cares’ there’s no explanation needed or possible as to why the Jihadi extremists are out to destroy Western civilization. Suffice to know that they are and they must be stopped or prohibited in their objectives”. But outer world was at the same time anxious to learn why actually this fellow called Osama was rampantly hitting America in wild manner? Obviously there must be prime reason behind it. And the result of same imagination comes to the point of ‘why’ question in journalism. Until now, it remains the darkened part of journalism, which is often called a window to the world (?).

Journalism in South Asia must also be analyzed in this concept and context as well. A joint federation of ruling governments in seven + one countries of South Asia must realize this fact very soon. Parties having a role of main figures to the SAARC are India and Pakistan which are dashing each other with demonstration of each other’s atomic power. Other parties like as Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri-lanka, Maldives, and newly joined Afghanistan, none of these mentioned countries have peaceful environment in context of socio-economic management and political stability because of so-called terrorism or rift between the establishment and opposition factors. But, why this rift is prevailing? No one have asked and tried to answer the question in rational way? They all have their own definitions and perceptions regarding the facts around them. Here I want to hint some facts about Bhutan. The ethnic Nepalese and some other ethnic Bhutanese who demanded ‘people’s democracy’ in the country have been driven out of their homeland. They have been languishing in Nepal since many years. They say, “They are the real country-men because they were in Bhutan since their ancestors” but, the government says; “they are pretending to be Bhutanese, they are actual non-nationals”. In beginning they demanded the equal share in country resources and asked the government to safeguard their culture and religion which was under threat at the moment. But, the government blamed these demands were standing on the way of development, so is to be swept out. They say, “People’s democracy or the full independence is required in Bhutan”, but, the ruling group says, “Present government is more than democratized”. This is only an example, which is prevailing in all of the SAARC countries in one or other way. There are mischievous, misconnects and double standard dealings from one way and rift or violence arises from the other. Hence, ‘why’ question in journalism is very much essential in South Asia, which can dig out all the realities and facts for the general people and they themselves will decide for the new future. Only the journalists and their organizations can’t do this task because of persecutions they may have to bear from different parts. So, this chapter in journalism must be promoted and safeguarded by the present ruling parties of the respective countries.

(Writer is a Bhutanese refugee journalist and can be contacted through


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