How May Journalists Seek 'Truth'?
In Front Lines of Journalism, BBC Radio 4 series 7-11 May 2023, Jeremy Bowen discussed the challenges of journalism. One of these (Episode 4) is about the value or otherwise of "lived experience" in reporters. For example, should black reporters always be sent to report on issues involving black people? Likewise for Muslim, Christian, Gay, working-class, upper-class, women on women's issues, and so on.
This so often is treated as a binary question, Yes versus No, but it was shown to be much more nuanced. One editor said he would always want to send the "best" reporters - which sounds good, until we ask what "best" means.
- "Best" of course includes journalistic skills. But which skills?
- Even "listening" might not be enough, because: what kinds of things does one listen to? Not what things, but what kinds of thing? For example, in a secular situation, how many listen for faith, beliefs, etc.?
- "Best" must also include being open and sensitive to kinds of issues that are too often overlooked, because they may still be meaningful to someone, especially those we are reporting about.
I find that Dooyeweerd's aspects and his understanding of everyday experience can help us cut through all this [the following 'first pass' to be tidied up and shortened].
- "Lived experience" involves all aspects:
- Pistic: beliefs, assumptions, expectations, aspiration, commitment, religion, ideology;
- Ethical: self-giving love, generosity, openness, voluntary yulnerability
- Juridical: what is due; appropriateness; rights and responsibilities; policy and the State;
- Aesthetic: harmony, surprise, fun;
- Economic: frugal use of resources;
- Social: social interaction, agreement;
- Lingual: symbolic signification, recording and communication
- Formative: fashioning things; goals and means; history, culture, technology: shaping and creativity;
- Analytical: distinguishing, concepts, logic;
- Sensitive: sense, feeling, emotion, stimulus-and-response;
- Biotic: organisms; life functions
- Physical: energy + mass; forces;
- Kinematic: movement; flowing movement;
- Spatial: continuous extension, space;
- Quantitative: quantity, amount;
- These aspects are intuitively understood, better than explicitly; for example we all know what life and health are basically even though we cannot define them and might differ over the details; similarly, justice, generosity, frugality, etc.
- The "lived experience" in one culture or situation differs from that in another, because the things of life are meaningful in different ways. For example the pistic aspect differs among religiuns and ideologies, and between affluent and non-affluent cultures.
- All may understand the lived experience of others via communication etc., even though full intuitive understanding might not be possible.
- The problem with understanding via communication etc. is similar to that of theoretical thought, in that we 'pick out' certain things that are meaningful to 'parcel up' in our communications, both as sources and recipients of communications (spoken, written, written centuries ago, etc.). The communication can never fully capture the full meaningfulness of that of the source.
- That is why "lived experience" can be helpful, in that there is also fuller intuitive understanding.
- However, "lived experience" also includes and involves the pistic functioning the beliefs, commitments, etc. of people in that situation, and hence can never be neutral. (Indeed there is no such thing as neutrality, because all people believe.)
- What we can aim for, however is empathy, good understanding ("empathy" was mentioned during the programme).
- Empathetic understanding can be improved by deliberate reference to aspects, especially those that are more meaningful to 'them' than to 'us'.
- And good, sensitive awareness of the aspects may help, in that it (a) helps us understand something foreign to us, yet (b) links with out own most basic intuitions of the aspects, so we understand its meaningfulness and importance in principle.
This page, "http://dooy.info/using/journalism.html",
is part of a collection that discusses application of Herman Dooyeweerd's ideas, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments are welcome.
Written on the Amiga and Protext in the style of classic HTML.
You may use this material subject to conditions. Compiled by Andrew Basden.
Created: 10 May 2023.