Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Conflict as a value?

I hate to think that conflict is a news value. Sadly, I think it is a human value, not that humans like conflict but rather then have the tendency to flock to it. Conflict is interesting to us and that is a very human problem. Rather than running from unknown noises in the forest, we have to investigate, figure out what is causing it. Because of this tendency, journalists, as the voice of the people, report on a lot of conflict, but that doesn't mean we value conflict. Journalists are human too and conflict effects us in the same kinds of ways it effects of rest of the world. It hurts, for us maybe even more than normal because we are right in the thick of it, sometimes we can even be the cause because we bring problems to the attention of the people. But in order for journalists to keep with other ethical values that we do hold, despite public opinion, conflict must be approached as a means to find a solution. Journalists cannot create turmoil for the heck of it. They cannot blow problems out of proportion. Journalism must only value conflict that creates solutions. Arguing simply for the sake of arguing is fine, but must be kept off the front page.

5 comments:

JollyRoger said...

I like what you say about conflict, and I agree that it is something to which the population naturally flocks. Maybe the value inherant isn't necessarily conflict, but interest. As you say with sounds in the forest, we are interested, and satiating that interest is what drives us to find out what caused it.

Now, if a newspaper wants to sell, it has to interest the reader, and if what the reader finds interesting, or rather if what sells the papers, is conflict, the newspaper is going to report conflict, not necessarily because they like conflict, or even just because they want to sell papers, but they have that duty to report to us truth, and if the only truth we as media consumers show them that we care about is conflict, they don't really have much choice than to print it, do they? Just a thought.

dairy_angel said...

I think that both Fence Sitter and JollyRoger make a good point. I agree that as humans we are curious and conflict attracts our attention.

It is true that as journalists we need to make sure that we don't get carried away in the conflict and make it more than it really is. We have to remember that our jobs are to inform the public and conflict is one aspect. It is not entirely what we need to cover. As a profession we need to remember that other facets of society like sucess and uniqueness need to be reported. People need to know everything that is happening. Not just the conflict.

But also from the other side we have to remember that we need to capture our audience. We need to adapt our writing or broadcast to their desires. Journalism is still a profession and has to make money. So adapting to an audience is crucial.

This adaptation is where it is like walking on a tight rope. We need to maintain accuracy and truthfulness to the best of our ability while capturing our audience. One tiny slip up and we are suddenly hanging on for life. It is this acrobatic adventure that gives journalists a rush and desire to keep reporting. But maintaining the balance is key.

Moulton said...

I tend to think of conflict as a disvalue rather than a value.

But if one were a dramatist, then conflict is an indispensible feature of a good story.

Some stories (called tragedies) end badly. Others (called comedies) end more amusingly.

Conflict would be fine if it were the case that all's well that ends well. But Shakespeare is best remembered not for his comedies but for his tragedies.

Fence Sitter said...

It is true, conflit does make a good story. I had never thought of it that way. It would be nice if everything could end well, but it would also be really boring. I think some of the greatest stories I've heard are some of the ones that end badly because it's realistic and a learning experience. But I think there needs to be some balance. There are just as many good stories with positive endings as there are bad endings. Let's not make the world out to be a horrible, horrible place. It can be gruesome, but it's not that bad.

Fence Sitter said...

It is true, conflit does make a good story. I had never thought of it that way. It would be nice if everything could end well, but it would also be really boring. I think some of the greatest stories I've heard are some of the ones that end badly because it's realistic and a learning experience. But I think there needs to be some balance. There are just as many good stories with positive endings as there are bad endings. Let's not make the world out to be a horrible, horrible place. It can be gruesome, but it's not that bad.