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“Journalists are given the privilege of shared access to the first draft of history, and some responsibility to make sense of it.”(NFP) The light that Chris masters sheds on the ethics and responsibility of investigative journalism in relation to the public and on whom the report on is explored in Not for publication. Masters’ expository discourse develops the common ‘essential objective is profit rather that saving the world.” Masters first hand experience and unearthing of the true facets that are todays investigative media, is more sinister than one would expect. Through direct expressions of Masters’ concern we see how the public is stimulated and deluded by masses of entertainment and propaganda, the cry for bad news is so inert in our society, that the concept of Masters exposition stories would not mediate to the mass media.
The level of manipulation of the news is alarming when brought to our attention, Masters goes on further to explore why this news is manipulated, to our ill-surprise, it is manipulated for the very people who watch it, the public. The escalating sensationalism and violence that the media embellishes to is what Masters argues to be, what the public want, “the massage is hard to avoid: [the public] want blood, their own blood”. This is one of his major concerns, as a journalist, he wants to illuminate the factors that establish modern journalism, the condescending truths and untruths that deliver entertainment over morals.
Chris Master incorporates the ‘duty of journalists [as] to reshape information and get that information to the public’, while this is important and periodically essential, it is his broad knowledge tells us that ‘the best journalism is the journalism to challenge the orthodox, respectfully challenge the public opinion and occasionally deliver bad news’(pg 5). While this is almost evident in Masters’ book, but the fact he did not deliver these stories that seem perfectly fit for ‘today’s journalism’ he attains a kind of benevolence, and consideration for his subjects. As seen in his anonymity, which shows the reader how it is not worth the social and media torment of the journalistic process. Quite powerfully he delivers the calming words that many of us already know, perhaps by our own nature or experience: ‘In order for there to be good journalism, journalists need to find a balance between what they want to present and what the public wants’.
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Masters derived this perhaps in light of his prior work on Four Corners, he almost uses this as an epitome of good journalism, not only does he relate, but as those of us who have seen the program, would understand the link he makes to a good journalist in pursuit of truth in a story, however contrary to the subject and quite often against public orthodox. It is this line of journalism that Masters incorporates to establish as the ‘better journalism’, something I quite frankly see as self-lifting response to his own tainted standard, and I use the word tainted in response to his failure in the eyes for the public as a diminishing journalist who no longer reports to the masses. This can be seen as a criticism of society that is constantly filtering out ‘good journalist’, hoverer I agree more thoroughly about the ignorance of the public being important, and that some news ‘should not be told’.
Continuing from my point of Masters self elevating writing style, which is neither totally good nor bad, this is because he conveys himself as an educated and experienced, which undoubtedly stimulates the need and value of knowledge which I can not but help agree. This ‘collective wisdom’ that is investigative journalism differs from simple reporting of facts, it is the pursuit of truth. This is one of his ‘journalistic ethics’ and one he establishes as a valued on for a good journalist. He does this through his expository conventions, his selection of detail, specifically in his anonymity of his subjects, whether individuals or industries. This is effectively protecting both his source form harm and retaliation, while the ‘cover is blown’ on the issue. One such reason, perhaps a more experienced choice, is his own protection from defamation and litigation, which we can see form his context of many court cases on the issue, can quite sufficiently ‘break’ you if your facts are not correct.
While Masters does not divulge the information that perhaps would be most useful to the public, i.e. who? Not just what?. This however, in itself encourages his own attitude and own opinion. Masters develops a Narrative voice and a sense of authorial intrusion, which not only reflects his won attitudes and values but also supports the purpose of the text. In ‘Plutonium One, To, Three’ the selection of metaphors for these ‘toxic’ and malevolent identities, who masters does not think highly, allows him to develop his destructive argument in complete safety. One could argue that this would be the only way to develop this information, and a good journalistic approach. This is read as a good journalistic ethic, where Masters is able to deliver the truth without jeopardising his sources and demanding the healthier dealing of his subjects or institutions.
The Narrative of Not for Publication is somewhat episodic, through this unravelling structure, it is also that he ‘unravels’ the ‘sinister side’ of Australia, from the underworld to the surface world, showing readers its not quite what it seems. This new information brought to our attention acts as a significant question. Masters allows us to question how much we really know about the world around us, he challenges us to be conscious of the carefully constructed answers that media exposes as a politicians perspective intelligence, ‘what a joke’. Not only is this a valid questioning, his attitudes to mass media, allow us to think twice about the commercial news feed though television is practised ‘unethical’ journalism, and only used to increase program ratings and reputations of news reporters and politicians. The over all purpose to this expository narrative structure is to question ‘How credible is credible?’ A key drive that will instil viewers to not be bound by popular belief and unethically fed media, Instead be conscious and demanding for what they want, for that is of course the only way things will change, and Chris Masters argues that it would be for the better.
The language used in Not for Publication conveys the attitudes that Masters believes is ethical for journalism, it reveals truth and also can effectively hide it, through emotive language and authorial intrusion. Whilst saying this, the authorial intrusions also reveals his frustration towards the restraint he holds against his subjects, where undoubtedly ‘Plutonium One, Two, Three’ he is disgusted of his subjects, and would want nothing more than to reveal their ‘backsides’ to the nation enforcing his power over their unethical standards. It is through Masters esteem principle in ethics of journalism to identify the truth and a balance between restrain and entertainment, that he in fact follows with what his own attitudes portray in this exposition. Had it not be for this own act of principle, one would definitely query Masters as an arrogant, self-idolising writer. Quite fortunately this is not the case and we can fully understand the concepts which Masters is dealing with, an adequate portrayal of the ethical approach of investigative Journalism.
Masters comment on how journalists have the ability to influence the public on certain issues. It is interesting how his thoughts of expository journalism, ‘opens the minds of readers and exposes it to different types of stories… hard for the audience to accept’. Masters argues that society has coveted their trust in journalists who provide us with sensationalism that is all too common in today’s mass media. The new and somewhat conceptual challenging of orthodox desensitises society and peculiarly it feels too real, which is an understanding I have come to terms with personally, many in my eyes seem ignorant and at the same time refuse to be enlightened. This understanding allows us to see a society that only responds to specific, sensationalistic influence and media. Masters argues that this trust we have in journalists allow us to be more easily persuaded. In ‘Plutonium One, Two, Three’ this agenda of influential and propaganda like sensationalism is apparent in other journalists in society, Masters talks of a personality who “makes a profitable living out of mugging his public”, it is through this exploration of information, and uncovering of understanding that allows us to see how easily the masses can be manipulated and it is in Masters attitude to show us how this is done effectively though ‘controversial’ and unethical journalists.
The inaction that the public displays against this mass multitude of commercial and sensationalism driven media is a sign that there is not enough demand to change this in society. The ratings show, the public still prefers the commercial and ‘purposely edited’ entertaining news, such that or E!, where investigative journalists will pry into the lives of the rich and famous devouring scandal after rumour, just to air some radical envision of a ‘pop-streamed’ culture that has not a single shred of relevance to our lives. It is evidently argued though Masters’ introduction that the pure form of ethical journalism is diminishing form society, just as Masters is finding personally. A powerful statement by master is his accusation of media: “The new entertainment-driven news format risks a blurring of lines between a current affairs report and a soap opera.” The final outcome is that there is less truth being delivered to society, and not just that what truth is divulged comes in its many flavours and forms or propaganda to dissociative manipulation, and it is this truth or there lack of that Masters criticises.
It is unfortunate but not without reprise that a journalist would lose integrity and their code of ethics in light of ratings respect and an audience. Journalists can have the solemn integrity to say what ‘has to be said’ and it can be acknowledged that it is not always the journalist’s entire fault. From an excerpt from a documentary in class, we could see how the FOX News network had great political influences as the CEO and the executives were political identities, they would influence what was being shown and how it was being presented. That leaves journalists in a compromise where their job is at risk if they do not comply. This outlines further readings of the manipulations and controlling behind all facets of media, which can stem all the way up to the brass of government. This unfortunate realisation shows that societal ethics and journalistic protocol are really only subdue to those in power. Anyone who values freedom will understand the criticism that Masters lays fall on the issue.
Through Chris Masters Not for Publication, we are given a powerful and intellectual stimulus into the powers governing mass media and journalism. We are awaked to Masters’ true journalist who reports for the truth and for the public, through his many narrative elements such as authorial intrusion and selection of detail, we are able to understand his purpose and so to question the society we live in, its credibility and the standards that the public requires of itself. This potent and quite entertaining expository does not stray for illuminating the state of society as we know it, in all it’s misconceptions and lies to boot. We see that the ‘good journalist’ to be unbiased, and the overwhelming influence they have on society should reprise responsibility in them. His book of stories which are not put to air gives a firm indication on the value of truth and the trust in the public to make rational and educated responses for themselves and notably spring away form the mass media and sensationalism that we call news.
1. Not for Publication, Chris Masters
2. E! Entertainment News, Fox Network(Ten Network) 2004
3. Video excerpt : Played in Stirling’s English class Term 2 2005