Interview with Dr.James

Date: Feb 4, 2019
Category: Interview

Introduction

The Arab Spring brought significant changes, among them the revolution in journalism; the interest in understanding the revolution in journalism during the Arab Spring. This interview was in essence the first time that I interviewed someone. The interviewee is a philosophy professor at Indiana University. His experience in the academic field is extensive; he has taught in Singapore and Malaysia and has taught in CIT University for a period of six years. His interest in journalism is among the key factors that make him an ideal subject for an interview. This is because he has the capacity, knowledge and experience to shed light on the interview’s subject matter. The introductions were made by Dr. Andria, who played a significant role in facilitating my interview with Dr. James. The interview began once everyone was settled and comfortable.

Journalism in General

Journalism has been significantly influenced through the developments in technology; hence information has become readily available as various technologies continue to develop. As a result, journalism has become a significant aspect of the society since it addresses various political, social and economic issues. In the United States, journalism proved to be a powerful tool though highlighting issues that emerged during the post-colonial Era and the civil rights struggles. These are historical events that have shaped the structure and fundamental fabric of the United States. Through journalism, critical issues that impacted the community were brought forwards to the rest of the world; hence shedding light on various social and cultural injustices that hindered not only the progress of the oppressed but that of the entire nation.

In the modern era and the advent of the information age, the internet has become the primary tool for disseminating and accessing information. The internet has become a reliable medium for journalism to thrive since information is shared and disseminated as events occur in real time. Hence, readers are informed on what is happening across the entire world without delay. Dr. James is of the view that changes in technology have a direct impact on the rate at which journalism is changing. Essentially, the rapid changes in journalism are a consequence of changes in technology that has created varied forums for exchanging news such as social media. In light of this, Dr. James believes that traditional methods of journalism will become obsolete and technological journalism will remain relevant as a consequence of advertisements.

Radio

The radio era began in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s (Honeycutt & Zito, 2004). However, the popularity of radio gained momentum in the 1920’s where it was a seen as significant equipment for receiving information. People felt the connection with radio since it focused on their daily lives, where farmers could follow price changes in the market and people were able to re-align themselves with their roots. Radio continued to evolve where companies and various firms saw the significance of radio in reaching a wider audience; hence, advertisements in radio become popular (Honeycutt & Zito, 2004).

However, as a result of interference in the AM radio frequencies, FM frequencies were developed that had minimal interference and were clearer. The development in radio continued and led to the development of satellite radio (Honeycutt & Zito, 2004). Technology continues to change to the extent that, in addition to these forms of radio, the development of internet radio is seen, where a person can listen to any radio station from anywhere in the world.

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However, it is my position that the radio is not a part of journalism because it is more of an advertising forum or it is premised on the broadcast of music. Radio broadcast does not require unique and specialized training; as such, any person can have broadcast equipment in their homes and begin broadcasting. In addition, it is difficult to authenticate any interviewers on radio since they may or may not be professional journalists. On the other hand, my interviewee, Dr. James, believes that the NBR radio station is a broadcaster founder on quality; hence their broadcasts are qualitative and authentic.

Consequently, after a recommendation to listen to the radio station by Dr. James, I took it upon myself to listen to the station to determine whether his assertions as to the quality of the content are accurate. The evolution of radio has seen numerous changes both in technologies and broadcast content. Meanwhile, radio stations have become numerous to the extent that each radio station appeals to a certain kind of person; hence radio stations content may be premised on a defined and unique genre, issues or articulately tailored content.

The Control of Television by Governments

The freedom of the press has been subjected to numerous challenges, more so in countries where the government is not a democratic government but a dictatorship. Such governments are controlling and suppress free journalism with the sole purpose of furthering their agenda. Television channels are perceived as having the ability to reach a wider audience and have more impact than radio or newspapers. This is because events are captured and transmitted in videos; hence a journalist has the capacity to address the audience directly. In light of this, dictators have assumed control over television stations in their respective countries. They require control of television because they can be used as tools for their removal in government. Dr. James believes that the television should be independent and free from government control and censorship. He pointed out that the government control of television stations can have negative impacts as indicated in the Turkish Elections in 2014. However, while Dr. James believes that the televisions stations and the media should have full independence and be free from censorship; it is my opinion that there is a high likelihood of such absolute freedom being subjected to abuse. This may result in un-ethical journalism where journalists may report unfounded or unauthenticated news that may be misleading. This is not only wrong, but it may have significant implications that may cost the entire nation.

Water Gate and Journalism

The Watergate issue was among the most sensitive issues in American politics. This issue primarily entailed the break-in into the democratic national committee and signified a weakness in the American administration. This issue was widely covered by journalists both in print and electronic media. The Watergate issue involved cover-ups during the Nixon Administration that was perceived as unethical and intended to mislead the public. The emergence of the Watergate scandal was significant to journalism since it illustrated the impact of journalism in a free and democratic society (The Washington Post, 2014).

Evidently, journalism was a key component in ensuring that the facts of the scandal become known, investigated, and the responsible parties are brought to justice. The issue of infringing on other people’s right to privacy through unlawful monitoring is a sensitive issue; hence the journalists played their part in ensuring that the public became not only aware of the scandal but on the implications of such practices on their respective lives (The Washington Post, 2014).

However, the sensitivity of the issue led to the closure of a number of news channels in an effort to contain the spread and impact of the scandal. However, the public continued to exert pressure demanding actionable measures to be taken against all the involved parties including the then president Nixon of the United States.

I posed the question regarding the Watergate issue to Dr. James; he become evasive; instead he veered towards discussing Malaysia era. Evidently, the Watergate issue is still a sensitive subject and continues to be insulated from the public.

Arab Spring and the American Journalism

The Arab Spring is among the most critical topics in the attainment of my goals; hence the need to comprehensively understand and appreciate the impacts of journalism during the Arab Spring. Therefore, the identification of a more knowledgeable and experienced professional became necessary with the aim of seeking further enlightenment on the issue. My interviewee, Dr. James, believes that though American journalism reports on the issues pertaining to the Arab Spring, they do not understand the intricate dynamics of the Arab Spring.

This observation was to some extent confusing since I believed that the position of an interpreter was among the most critical roles in American journalism. As a result, I could not see the reason why American journalism could not understand the dynamics of the Arab Spring (Tsenina, 2013). In the context of Dr. James’ opinions as far as the Egyptian elections were concerned, he was of the view that the new Egyptian president would be a military man. Historically, the Egyptian people support their military; however, the possibility of military rule does not appeal to the population (Tsenina, 2013). However, the election of a military president can be perceived as a significant improvement given that the former ousted Egypt president was perceived as a “terrorist” president.

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Evidently, the American journalism failed to report the fact that more than 12 million people came out to oust the previous Egypt president who was believed to be associated with the “Muslim Brotherhood” an organization listed as a terrorist group by the Saudi Arabian authorities. The American journalists make their reports on the basis of reports made by Aljazeera news channel; however, the integrity of Aljazeera is questionable since terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden used the news channel to broadcast his terror threats to the world. Therefore, the question appeares, how is Aljazeera a trustworthy news channel? In light of this, American journalism should seek more authentic and trustworthy sources for their news and desist from relying on reports from channels whose integrity is questionable.

Anonymous Sources

Anonymity aims at protecting an individual from being know either because the individual fears for their security or wishes to retain their privacy. However, Dr. James believes that anonymity is detrimental in journalism; therefore, anonymous journalists cannot be trusted or relied upon to present impartial facts. He believes that though there might be valid reasons for choosing to be anonymous such as government censorship, anonymity serves to extenuate poor journalism. The advent of the social media and online news forums has made news readily available as it happens; therefore, anonymity in professional journalism is wrong and ill advised.

The position that anonymous journalism is wrong may have its merits; however, I disagree with this position because anonymity is critical in times where giving information to the public can endanger a person’s life. Therefore, anonymity is the only way for people such as whistle blowers to inform the public on issues that affect them, but the powers do not want them to know, for instance, in case of dictatorships impacts on journalism as is the case of the Syrian Government (Tsenina, 2013). Anonymous journalism shed light into secret activities of such governments that may have dire consequences for the public.

Conclusion

Journalism is a crucial part of the information circulation process and ensures that the public is informed on political, economic and social issues that impact their daily lives. While journalism as a profession has undergone numerous evolutionary changes in terms of technology and free journalism, some countries still face the challenge of a censored journalism. Technological development shave made journalism a digital component in the modern news cycles.

The events during the Arab Spring have changed the perception and attitudes of the Arab world which has become less tolerable to dictators and oppressive rulers; hence journalism plays a critical role in reporting and informing not only the populations in the respective Arab communities but the entire world on the real issues on a timely basis. It is evident that though journalism enjoys a degree of autonomy and freedom from the government in most democratic countries, the Arab world requires journalists who are fearless and impartial in their reporting in order to effectively inform the people in the issues that they may not be know about.

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