Objective reporting is intended to present topics and events neutrally and impartially. However, in non-democratic developing countries, this is not the journalist case. The three main common tactics used to reduce the objectivity of the news given to the people is government media ownership, regulatory and financial pressure, and public denunciations of trustworthy journalists. For example, around 80% of major media outlets in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are owned by or associated with politicians. These politicians use the media to disseminate political information. Since journalists’ wages are directly related to the content of their papers, political owners have complete control over what is published. The media has been subjected to more subtle attempts to stifle their freedom.
Secondly, the journalist who reports objective news might get killed or even killed. Those who report widespread human rights violations and corruption risk being detained, beaten, or killed. For example, if they criticize the government or local militias, journalists frequently face physical damage. A confrontation between the Nicaraguan government and demonstrators earlier this year resulted in censorship and intimidation. Journalists who criticized the government received threats both online and in person. The police, military, and some government supporters have stolen equipment, and video shut down media websites, and even violently killed and assaulted journalists. A government supporter even set fire the radio station where the journalist used to work.
The third reason is media regulation which they implement by coercion, such as shutting the media organization by revoking or refusing to renew working licence. It is not unusual for journalists and media organizations to get banned in undemocratic developing countries while reporting an objective fact. For example, in 2019, Cameroon’s government shut down internet service in the restive Anglophone area, a harsh response to protests and a burgeoning uprising stemming from long-standing discrimination against the country’s strong Anglophone minority. Attacks on media freedom are often linked to power grabs by new or incumbent leaders or established governments attempting to crush perceived challenges to their hold on power. As any break of their media supremacy threatens to reveal official corruption or debunk official narratives, existing autocratic regimes continue to tighten the screws on dissenting voices.
According to theory, a social group or society can isolate or exclude members based on their opinions. It implies that people are afraid of being alone. As a result of this fear of alienation, people choose to stay quiet rather than express their opinions. The dominant idea and people’s perceptions of what the dominant idea is are influenced by the media. For example, a journalist might fear they if they report what they feel, they might be jailed, criticized by the public or exiled. Two Reuters journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison in Myanmar following a flawed trial. The court overlooked clear proof that they were entrapped to stop their investigation into military abuses against the Rohingya minority; they were recently pardoned but not exonerated.
Journalists attempt to determine which viewpoints are more common in public. They answer and express themselves accordingly. Then they try to figure out whether they are in the majority or whether the public generally agrees with them. They can prefer to stay quiet if they believe they are in the minority. For example, before the April removal of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the population had grown accustomed to domestic news outlets that struggled to provide substantive information. As public dissatisfaction with al-misrule, Bashir’s increased his regime retaliated, arresting journalists covering mass demonstrations and revoking the credentials of several international journalists.
Conclusively, there is a clear conflict between journalists seeking to carry out their function properly in anti-democratic regimes determined to maintain power.
The first lesson that is learned is from the topic of the definition of objectivity in journalism. There is a demand for good reporting in the world. Despite the risks, journalists around the world strive to keep governments accountable and report the stories of oppressed people. The second thing that I learnt is that free media reporting is under threat, especially in undemocratic developing countries. Independent journalist needs to be creative and brave to provides hope even in the most desperate situations.
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