The Unseen Work: The Realities of Journalism in the Modern World By Lisa Ma

Melo Fellow
Melo Fellow
Melo Social Member

The debate on the essence of Journalism has been put under the spotlight with the rise of AI voice and face cloning tools, especially in the social media era in news. In this Melo Social event, I had the opportunity to join a private tour of CNN's Hong Kong office, led by CNN's Managing Editor for Asia Pacific, Ellana Lee, the Senior International Correspondent, Ivan Watson and the Asia Business Editor, Juliana Liu.

The Romance of Journalism

It always inspires me when I learn about people’s passion for pursuing the work they love. From their sharing, I discovered the beauty of journalism that I would otherwise never think of. "Journalists write the first draft of history." As journalists, they have the power to shape how events are remembered and perceived in the future. Their daily motivation in this business comes from the necessity of informing people about what is happening in the world. I found it intriguing when they shared their love of talking to
ordinary people instead of politicians, perhaps a farmer, a waiter, or a barber. Their different point of view is always surprising. This inspired me to pay attention to the ordinary people and things in life and learn the lesson they are trying to tell. In their eyes, journalism is the most romantic, amazing and meaningful duty in the world, almost as if it is a form of art in itself. And I would definitely agree with them.

The Golden Value of Verification

“Is the News dying?” During our exchange, we touched on this controversial topic openly and honestly. In today's digital age, where social media platforms are ubiquitous, many people question the relevance of mainstream news outlets like CNN. We could receive instant prompts on something happening around the world with first hand footage and descriptions shared by social media users, way ahead of the arrival of news reporters. The only problem that came along is that anyone can post anything on the internet, fake news or even half-true news are all over the place.
Undoubtedly, social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to receiving and sharing information. This is exactly why mainstream news outlets like CNN are more valuable and crucial than ever. There is always room for news no matter how much people use social media because there is fake news and information that is not verified. News should be there to deliver the information that has been fact-checked and verified. One thing that stood out to me was CNN’s emphasis on the importance of accuracy and fairness in journalism. I am content to see that CNN takes verification seriously, dedicated to picking up on nuances and translating them accurately to their audience. This is crucial in ensuring that the public receives unbiased and accurate information, which is essential in shaping their views and opinions.

Navigating Objectivity

Behind the scene, there was a lot of work unseen. As a journalist, it is crucial to remain objective and report the facts accurately. A usual practice of the journalist is that they would watch the situation through a professional lens and try not to be too involved and emotional. Sometimes we have to also take active measures to distance ourselves from unnecessary harm. For instance, CNN reported a Drone footage captured the moment a Ukrainian civilian is wounded by Russian soldiers at the Ukraine-Russian border. There was a lot of evidence to be processed, including phone calls and interviews with the Russian soldiers involved. During this, the Ukrainian soldiers disclosed to the CNN journalist that there were images of Ukrainian dead bodies stored in his phone and offered to show them to the journalist. The journalist refused to see them in order to protect himself. However, there are situations when emotions are inevitable. In such cases, CNN offers mental therapy to ensure that journalists are not severely affected after covering materials that may cause traumas, such as war. It is also critical to stay Objective, but not numb.

Journalism is undoubtedly an awe-inspiring profession that requires not only passion and dedication but also a lot of courage and empathy. As we navigate the world of social media and the prevalence of fake news, it's reassuring to know that there are still reputable news outlets like CNN that place a high value on accuracy, fairness, and empathy in their reporting. Of all the means by which we gather and spread information, truth and fairness are where the essence lies.

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