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Opinion

May 18, 2013

Column: What charity can learn from journalism

(Continued)

In “The Elements of Journalism,” the authors state that a journalist’s first obligation is to the truth. Part of that truth is looking at all angles of a story. I think that many times charities do a good job at looking at the presumed victims’ story but ignore that of the oppressor. By ignoring the oppressors’ story not only does the charity fail to get to the root of the problem, they fail to figure out why the problem was caused in the first place.

A prime example of this is when the non-profit Invisible Children released a video aiming to expose the plight of children soldiers. Organizations who ask for money and get involved with broad issues should ask why the issue is happening. It’s easy to point your finger and name someone the bad guy, but the Kony 2012 video did not ask why Joseph Kony formed the Lord’s Resistance Army and is forcing children to join it. It is easy to ask how, but more difficult and less common to ask what is going on behind what we immediately see.

It is also a journalist’s job to look out for the public. When writing the news, it is imperative that journalists provide information that allows fellow citizens to make their own decisions. This means writing something that is without bias and that tells the truth. Charities should also practice this loyalty. Many times people discover an issue, become extremely eager to help, but do not think to actually communicate with those people and see what their needs are.

This is disloyalty. Charities should seek to tell the truth about the people they are helping, and in order to do so they should listen to their needs. They need to see “suffering” people as people, not projects. In order to properly aid people, charity organizations need to set up situations that allow people to better themselves, so they aren’t dependent on foreign aid.

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