A showpiece: How to fake journalism

I shared this video about immigrants in Sweden a few weeks ago with the following criticizing comments, since it appeared in my Facebook news feed. Now, the President of the United States appears to have picked up this disgusting piece of „journalism“ and I could not believe my ears and eyes when these news came out. For everyone out there, especially for Mr. Donald Trump, this is a showpiece on how to „fake journalism“. The most obvious mistakes (apart from the fact that Trump even picked up WRONGER facts, that were not even touched upon in this ridiculous piece of work) are listed below.

THE VIDEO: https://youtu.be/RqaIgeQXQgI

[Ami Horowitz – The Stockholm Syndrome]

This is not to discuss the topic of this video, immigration policy in European countries in general and violence against women in particular (which I most strongly oppose, from ANY man who happens to think my freedom as a woman is somehow inferior to his freedom as a man). I was watching this video because I think nowadays, it is more than important to listen to other voices, to discuss other ideas, that are not our own and still are just as valid as our own opinions. For this reason, I watched this video.

However, being a journalist, this „report“ made me angry to an extent I cannot emphasize enough. We report on FACTS and in a so-called postfactual age, it is a journalist’s duty to adhere to the ethical standards of his profession. Ami Horowitz might not be „the usual journalist“ (and is more or less a film maker), but still aims to appear as such in this video and therefore, what applies to EVERYONE OF US applies to him to. In not adhering to ethical standards of journalism, he presents a biased account of the situation in Sweden and arranges his report in a misleading way to – as it seems to me – communicate a certain message that was probably clear to him even BEFORE starting to film. This, according to popular definitions, is called propaganda, not journalism. And this makes me angry. Here are some of the things WRONG with this report.

I invite any of my journalist friends (no matter their personal political opinion) to add to this list.

1. Use inserts. – It is as simple as it sounds. When you talk to someone, it is the right of your viewer to know exactly WHO you are talking to and research this person’s background, if needed. An interview without inserts (stating the name and profession) is close to an anonymous account and lacks credibility. Ami Horowitz mentions their names, he can write them down easily.

2. Stay away from suggestive questions. – I agree, they can be used for journalistic purposes, but an interview that is mainly arranged around questions such as „Would you say that this area is a state within a state?“ is misleading. An interview is mainly about the interviewee’s opinion, not your own. Suggesting answers can be a technique to grill politicians, it should, however, not be applied throughout a complete interview. The interviewee is left with no space to elaborate on your question.

3. Quotes need to be proven. – If (as it happens in approx. minute 6.50) you stand outside a police station and report on their move from a dangerous area to another area with the statement: „Police will tell you, they had to move“, I want a police spokesperson OUTSIDE that station telling me exactly that. Anything else is hearsay and has to be labelled as such.

4. Images need to be put into context. – Every TV journalist will understand your need for „good images“ and „enough images“ to accompany your report. However, EVERY image you use must be put into context. This is not a Youtube Video where you simply add picture to picture to make a pleasant short film to go with your music. This is (an attempt at) serious journalism. Label your images and mention where they come from. If you don’t, things like this can happen to you and your report:http://www.mimikama.at/allgemein/dresden-hamburg-oder-wien/

5. These migrant Vox pops from the street are simply awful. Let them talk if you want their opinion. And then you might want to consider point 2 again.

Again, this is not to discredit any political belief (as always, they are open for discussion), but just a little reminder to check your sources thoroughly. Not everyone who pretends to be a journalist (even if Ami Horowitz is more some kind of film maker, he REPORTS in this specific case), works like a journalist.

#lastnightinsweden #prayforsweden

For further explanation: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/02/19/world/europe/last-night-in-sweden-trumps-remark-baffles-a-nation.html

Picture credit: Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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