The blurry role of journalists in society


In the beginning of the summer their was a sensation in the media and among the journalists which was caused by a pseudo journalist, Vanessa Beeley at the University of Uppsala’s organized summer school on how to cover military conflicts when she tried to spread half truthful propaganda on countries involved in information warfare. During the effects of this incident, ERR journalist Allan Rajavee wrote a story recalling the basics of journalism and half-truths of journalists.

He writes that the aim of journalism is be a link between the reader and a wider social spectrum. „ The role of a responsible middleman is not defending truth and justice but rather a journalist mediates objectively the arguments of different parties and analyzes the factual basis of their claims. This is a vision of a so-called clean and free of passion news media, which sometimes is called the idyllic white press.“

The situation in which a journalist is not just a neutral and balanced information mediator but an opinion leader, „expert“ and star tends to cause problems with the truth. Rajavee writes: „ The further so-called classical journalism distances itself from the reader and tries to sell media sensational truth, the more the reader remains in doubt: is what I am hearing or reading the truth? Beeley type activist pseudo journalists can take advantage of this suspicion and sway them in their blogs towards unbalanced information.“

According to him, it is important to understand who the journalist is and what is his role in reflecting the events of the present. „ If Beeley’s goal is to credibly influence her readers, by firing up their social paranoia, then the goal of regular journalists is to give their audience a balanced view. This means that the story is not just about one side but allows you to reflect on different opinions. Of course it is more difficult for a reader to understand balanced text because „ It does not put someone down“ or „end the article with, who was good and who was bad.“

The incident at Uppsala University and Beeley was publicized by journalists by them actively bringing it to the public and revealing the nature and background of the pseudo journalist. Although the leader of the summer school did not see anything negative in the incident, Uppsala University did still apologize to the participants of the summer school.

Vanessa Beeley a blogger who is known for her pro-Kremlin views, who has also contributed to Russia Today and Sputnik channels for some time. She is convinced that the Soviet Union and its successor, Russia have always wanted to bring peace to the world and that the Syria chemical attacks were directed by the White Helmets.

It seems odd that, the pseudo journalist attempted to spread propaganda to journalists who are always more critical than ordinary citizens towards such information. At the same time if one can „turn the heads „of journalists it weighs in significantly more because with the assistance of these new agents, propaganda truths can reach a newer and wider audience.

The results of such experiments have been studied and written about in more detail by Michael Weiss and Peter Pomerantsev analysis “The Menace of Unreality: How Russia Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money”.

Photo: Jesus Alducin / Flickr / CC