Last week I attended a seminar with journalists from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. At one of the first sessions we discussed the terminology of war and conflict. Writing about the situation in Israel and Palestine this was an issue I could fully relate too. For every journalistic piece I do on even issues of cultural events or blog posts about non-political random daily experiences I am very aware of every single word I use and how readers will make political interpretations of the content.
Later that evening, I was talking about the session with an Egyptian participant and was struck by of how differently she had experienced this discussion.
”All I could think was ’wauw, Western media sounds pretty progressive!’ Terminology is only the next thing I would think about – I’m just pretty impressed when the media reports the truth and do not publish Photoshopped pictures,” she said with an honest straight forwardness, which made it absolutely clear to me how different the media style and quality is from Danish to for instance Egyptian media.
This comment hit me as I became aware of how I take for granted the quality of the Danish media and the high expectations to trustworthiness, accuracy and balance.
Just a few weeks ago the main Danish news wire published a story mixing up Hamas and Hizbollah. I was horrified by this mistake, which was to me a sign of lazy and poor quality journalism. But putting it into perspective, I am now seeing an innocent mistake in a critical and accustomed media industry. Something we should be proud of and always aim for- but also recognize for the value it holds.