Fisk on journalism and power of words

26 May

In his address at the fifth Al Jazeera annual forum, Robert Fisk spoke about the power of words in journalism. His speech was not a ‘postmodernist’ take of words but instead a historical perspective of how words have been ‘twisted’ by Western governments and adopted by journalists. In doing so, the media has become less a vehicle of truth but more a propaganda tool.

I quote, ‘It is about the employment of phrases and clauses and their origins. And it is about the misuse of history; and about our ignorance of history.

More and more today, we journalists have become prisoners of the language of power’.

For instance, the phrase, ‘hearts and minds’ have been liberally splashed across the media to reflect the need to win over Afghanis when it was previously used in Vietnam. A different war but the same words to conceal the brutal and violent nature of war.

Fisk’s solution to all these ignorance is to encourage journalists (bloggers and readers, I might add) to read history and to ‘deep read’ – meaning to read carefully and slowly.

I agree. Otherwise, how would we be able to confront the language of propaganda?

Access the speech from Al Jazeera or in our archive page.


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