Recently I had the opportunity to have some lengthy discussions with a pair of self-termed “journalists.” Both conversations were interesting and unsettling at the same time.
First of all, when did a ‘reporter,’ as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as; “A writer or presenter of news stories,” become a “journalist?”
A “journalist” by definition, again courtesy of the aforementioned dictionary, is; “One whose occupation is “journalism,” whatever that happens to mean, or, even more ridiculously, “One who keeps a journal.” I would gather that would include a diary of sorts. A ‘journal’ of daily events and the like.
Secondly, considering the clearly, as defined, differences between the two, when did reporter and journalist become interchangeable? It makes one wonder why there is this conflation between the two seemingly
disparate ‘jobs’ if you like.
As a point of reference both of these conversations revolved around the Animal Liberation Front and its actions, tactics and philosophy.
The reason that both of these conversations struck me at odds was the general tone of of the discourse I engaged in with the two individuals. On the one hand the ‘reporter’ seemed genuinely interested in learning about the Animal Liberation Front and the gamut of its activities while the ‘journalist’ seemed interested in making
judgement calls, not just about me, but the animal rights/animal liberation movement in general. This is not to say that there was not a little of both from both sides. There most definitely was.
However, while the questioning and answering was generally genial on both sides of the coin there were, nonetheless, instances of what I would term ‘opinion activism’ from both parties at times. Whereby during the course of both conversations there were instances when both individuals opined on, to me, the inherently unjust, in their minds, justification for the direct actions undertaken by the Animal Liberation Front against those who propagate and sustain the grotesque iniquity of the exploitation, suffering and trade of the animal industrial complex. This was done in an almost accusatory manner. Seemingly a far cry from merely ‘reporting’ and presenting the news, so to say.
During the course of these interviews I referred to the Animal Liberation Front as Freedom Fighters, squarely knocking down the commonly used appellative of terrorist. As an example of a Freedom Fighter I pointed towards Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, and a renowned Freedom Fighter in his own right on the African continent in the struggle for the liberation of Rhodesia from the hands of white rule. In fact as Wikipedia points out Mugabe was (“one of the leaders of the guerrilla (read freedom fighter) movements against white-minority rule”) and before becoming so was imprisoned for his trouble for ten years; 1964-1974 in Rhodesia and subsequently upon his release began his campaign to free Rhodesia from white-minority rule. I was immediately confronted with the old saw that Mugabe is a “controversial” figure. I let this pass as just so much ignorance of history.
I explained to the journalist/reporter that the Animal Liberation Front as a group are Freedom Fighters no different than any other Freedom Fighters except for the fact that they are fighting for the total liberation of non-human animals from the hands of a rapacious humankind. No different than the M23 Freedom Fighters operating in the
“Democratic” Republic of the Congo or the FARC Freedom Fighters (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) operating in Colombia all are struggling for more just and egalitarian societies. And let us
never forget the greatest Freedom Fighter of them all, Che Guevara, who gave his life in the long standing struggle for freedom and justice.
While there are undoubtedly some minor differences the struggles are one and the same. To ignore the inherent parallels is to ignore the past, present and the future of history.
In closing I would say that both ‘journalists’ and ‘reporters’ should stick to presenting the facts and the news only and to leave their clearly evident biases, opinions and jeremiads on the cutting room floor, so to say.