Over the last six weeks, we have been talking a lot about different perspectives and viewpoints and the effect that they can have on others. I thought about this in the context of journalism and, after much deliberation, came to the conclusion that for the most part at least I agree with this statement.
One reason I believe every perspective is important is that, on some occasions as a journalist, some of the people you interview and listen to might not be telling the truth, or their version of the truth might be clouded by emotion or preconceived ideas. That's not to say these people's perspectives are not important- on the contrary, they might give us some very useful information- but it will be impossible to see the full picture without also listening to the viewpoints of other more reliable sources.
For example, in Myanmar Aung Sand Suu Kyi has shared her perspective on many occasions. It is important to hear from such an important leader and, as we discussed during one of our sessions, often hearing from someone with power or someone who is well-renowned is enough to make a news story credible. However, she can not necessarily be trusted. She is not 'on the ground', she hasn't experienced what it going on and she is very defensive about the things that have been happening in order to protect her reputation. We need to hear from a range of people to get the full story: people who have been involved in experiencing the violence as well as outsiders who many be able to see the overall picture more clearly.
A second reason I believe it is important to gather a range of perspectives is because it is important to stay open minded when it comes to the news. It is so easy to look at a story with preconceptions or judgements. But just because somebody is saying something you might not want to hear, that doesn't mean it is any less valid. Sometimes it is these difficult facts or viewpoints that can open your eyes to what is really going on.
For example, in Myanmar many different people are sharing their perspectives, and some are more difficult to listen to that others. When we originally did the viewpoint activity, I disregarded some people straight away as I didn't think they would be reliable. However, when I did listen to what they had to say, I found myself having a completely different opinion of the events in Myanmar. If I had not opened to mind to listening to these, I would have gone away not having known the full story.
I believe that it is not always possible to know for sure who you can or can't trust and, as a journalist in particular, it is important to reserve judgement until you have heard the full story. Perspective is so unique to each individual that it is essential to gather as many different viewpoints as possible in order to put together the pieces of the jigsaw and, hopefully, form an accurate and detailed picture of what is happening.
Here is where I used the Burnet News Club skills in my work:
Curiosity- I asked lots of questions about perspective, and even ended up questioning myself as to why I thought certain things. This helped me to become more open minded and allowed me to develop my ideas and understanding.
Sceptisism- Many of the people in my group thought that there were some opinions that should be immediately ignored. However, I challenged their ideas and was able to make my own mind up.
Reasoning- I presented my reasons in a clear and structured way.
Story telling- I was able to communicate my ideas for an appropriate audience and, hopefully, used ideas which grabbed the reader's attention.
Open mindedness- I challenge myself and my own thoughts, looking for weaknesses in my reasoning and being open to changing my mind.