I agree that, in most cases, every perspective on a news story is equally important.
During the last 6 weeks we have thought about different viewpoints and their importance to journalists. During one session, we did an activity in which we had to choose two viewpoints to write a news report about. This activity showed me that some viewpoints are more useful than others, for example the UN representative was somebody we could trust because the UN is a trusted international source. The university student on the other hand was of the Buddhist majority which means that they might not have much knowledge of what is happening to the Rohingya, as well as possibly being biased. They also learnt their information through social media rather than first hand experience, which may have made their viewpoint less reliable.
However, just because a viewpoint is less useful doesn’t make it less important. Through choosing only 2 people to interview, we got a very narrow view of what was happening. By listening to all of these individuals, we would get a better understanding and be able to see the bigger picture. I think that as a journalist it is important to pick out the key pieces of information from a range of people to allow you to form your story. Yes, some people may lie or be unreliable, but it is still important to listen to their opinion.
I also believe that being able to express your opinion about something is a basic human right which means that each viewpoint must be seen as being important. For example in Myanmar, the Rohingya population and the Buddhist population have very different opinions about what is happening and why it is happening. It is not for us to decide whose opinion is most important! If we did, we would only be looking at one side of the argument and wouldn’t be able to make up our own minds about what is going on.
As a journalist, you can’t make up people’s minds from them. The purpose of writing an article is to show all the facts and help people understand what really happened. If you only listened to one perspective, disregarding those you felt were ‘less important’ people wouldn’t have enough information to make a decision about what really happened.
To summarise, not all perspectives are equally useful to a journalist when they are writing their story but they are all just as important in building up the big picture.
Throughout the last 6 weeks, I think I developed the 5 Burnet News Club skills as follows:
Curiosity: I asked lots of questions about people’s perspectives and was eager to find out what would happen if only one viewpoint was shared. Being curious helped me to change my opinion!
Scepticism: I challenged people’s opinions and statements where I thought they might not be reliable, for example where they might have been influenced by social media.
Reasoning: I developed my own opinions by backing up them with strong arguments.
Storytelling: I thought more carefully about my audience and adapted my spoken and written work to engage them.
Open mindedness: I learnt that just because I might not agree with someone doesn’t mean they are wrong. I can have my own opinion but still see things from a different perspective.