Journalism As The Science Of Neutral Perspectivism.

WHEN two men have a debate concerning political allegiances, they typically do not take into account those more pragmatic and inherently non political functions of society which furnishes them with the template that allows them to rant about whatever insipid legislation they believe to be relevant. Once the two men finally exhaust themselves, they are likely to pause, and in this pause a monarch butterfly make it’s presence and beauty known by flying right near the nose of one of the debaters.

As soon as the politically minded man sees the butterfly come within his field of vision, he enters into a cubicle of pure experience before he apprehends the romantic beauty of the experience via reflection. It is in this brief cubicle of wonder where he develops, at least momentarily, a neutral perspective as that moment may be interpreted as having intimate qualities which is only relatable to the lone experiencer. It is in this instant that the debater becomes the experiencer as he was forced to see things as they are as opposed to how he would like to see things shaped by way of legislation.

If we change the scenario, and replace our two political debaters with one professional pastoral painter and a historian of pastoral painting who sits alongside him, and the two of them have a debate about perspective(in the artistic sense of the word). Let us assume that in this debate they are too ambitious in trying to understand the methods of other painters until that same monarch butterfly introduces herself in a manner which tickles the imagination. If we assume that the historian is the more perceptive of the two, then it is likely that he may utilize his experience by practicing his new found perspective. This newer way of seeing may help him bridge the gap between his pure theories on how he thought perspective was attained historically with out the aide of newer methods, with historical anecdotes which imply that perspective was attained in a way that is analogous to what he experienced.

Depending on how perceptive the painter is, he or she may draw inspiration from their encounter with the butterfly which can only be attained from a neutral perspective in inspiration before it can be applied to the canvas from the perspective of a painter. If the painter comes to find that his new style of attaining perspective, which came to him partly by accident, actually works as a method of attaining perspective as shown in the end result, then there is no need for debate when the results on the canvas are clear.

I do not mean to say, in conclusion, that debate is fruitless as it can still result in epistemic benefits for both parties-but debate becomes obsolete when the painter claims to be right based on his expertise whereas the historian of pastoral painting provides journalistic evidence( such as lecture notes from painters of an earlier time which illustrate the truth of how a method of painting was preformed) as to why the professional pastoral painter is wrong to hold onto a monopolistic claim that his methods are superior to others just because he has more experience in painting. In this debate, the historian has started his investigation from a neutral perspective whereas the professional painter reasons from the perspective of his school or mentor.

In these examples we see the emergent nature of neutrality in that observation is made to be more skillful when there are no prior convictions hindering ones pure experience. For instance, if P represents the trustworthiness of politicians and F represents the untrustworthiness of politicians, then P is only related to F if a politician lies outright or appropriates a fact in order to make their wider rhetorical scheme appear credible. P equals P only when a politician makes a statement that is purely factual and then comes to his conclusions within that particular topic of controversy that he begins with. If the politician begins his questioning from a purely factual starting point and continues forming questions therefrom, then he has consolidated his neutrality without falling into the tribal pettiness of party politics by stating that his party does or has done such and such.

Real journalists learn that information is a-political once they have investigated those more mundane controversies that furnish the higher controversies. These higher controversies(also know as scandals) make the headlines on the news while the shadow people who caused the higher controversy to arise by committing crimes which are lesser known to the general public. For instance, if one wants to know why a criminal enterprise is considered to be powerful, then one ought to look into where they get their clothes tailored, who manufactures their guns, how and where they conduct business, how they avoid paying taxes and what the money mechanics of their money laundering scheme look like. It is by way of mapping the small details that we can begin to understand how a criminal enterprise becomes powerful through its method of organization.

Studying the cause of problems in the supply chain is another great a-political resource to study in that certain laws or edicts can create discontinuity between the farmer and the distributor. If the government makes a myriad of new employment laws that make it unbearably time consuming to hire laborer's in a timely manner, then the efficiency of production will be stifled and shortages in food will come as a result. Reporting on these more mundane facts is neutral as I have made my report in a manner that is purely technical. The journalist must therefore follow an order where A(antecedent/pre-existing problem) equals L(legal or political problem) only when the antecedent is fostered by self serving legislation. It does not matter if it became before or after a particular law if the problems of A are constantly being renewed by illogical laws.

If public opinion were shaped by more pragmatic concerns as they relate to the rights of people to trade, manufacture certain goods and arbitrate amongst themselves, then most laws which restrain industrious person’s would fade into irrelevance. It is therefore the job of the journalist to make explicit those niche laws which hold prosperity captive. Public opinion, no matter how politicized it may be, will be forced to realize the follies of government intervention once they have to line up for a mere loaf of bread. It will be in this lining up for bread where the politically opinionated must finally look at the details from a neutral perspective as the details themselves do not have political biases.

In order to maintain my neutral perspective, I must recognize when I infer the cause of the whole problem as opposed to looking at a specific problem. If I am walking down a cobblestone road and I happen to trip on a stone which was out of alignment, should I blame the workman, cobblestone roads in general, question what caused that stone to stick up or simply look at it as a red herring and move on with my day? In this instance, the more measured I am in my temperament, then the less inclined I will be to be irritated at a niche mishap. As a journalist I should therefore be wary of the putting P(Part) before W(whole) when the contents of P have not been properly analyzed in their totality. I must therefore study P to the point where I can begin to see an interplay between P and other symbols which share a common relation with what I infer , or attain evidence that has sufficient certainty, that P must have came from or has been inspired by W.

It is thus inappropriate for a journalistic to begin reporting with a grand theory of what could have caused a particular event to occur. A grand theory is particularly deceptive in that it’s plausibility is responsible for it being perceived as credible. It is only when we demarcate what is factual based on description, from where we can draw reasonable inferences, that we can can begin to understand which details have empirical content and what can be re-created in the form of experiment(i.e. the forensic unit of the fire department which theorizes the cause of a fire by way of modeling and by forming a criteria of deduction in which the most realistic account of how a fire began is deemed to be the most relevant).

Given the pragmatic nature of journalism, it is especially relevant for the journalist demarcate what data corresponds to the real world and what effects this data has on society. Hypothetically, if there was a comparative type of statistic which showed an increase in violent crime which was congruent which an increase in alcohol intake, then prohibitionist would say that this is an unchallengeable proof which vindicates the dictums of the prohibitionist political philosophy. The prohibitionist uses the word “proof” in a way that makes the proof appear to have within it a universal truth which states that it is the odd resonance surrounding alcohol which implants thoughts of violence into the drinker. This is, of course, nonsense as the prohibitionist blames the object as opposed to the culture. It is the job of the journalist therefore to travel to different municipalities in order to be acquainted with the atmosphere, culture, personality of those living there and to attain testimony from residents who may vary in terms their skill in insight, but will nevertheless have more insight as it relates to their place of residence than you. It is intellectually dishonest to appropriate a single statistic for the purposes of making a law which seeks to prohibit alcohol or a particular drug nationwide.

I myself know of certain towns that have a dual identity in that the downtown area can have six different pubs but very little violent crime in sharp contrast to the outskirts of the town where people who are more prone to violence reside not because they are alcoholics, but because there immature personalities confine them to harmful habits. Even though these people are more prone to committing violent acts it still does not mean that they are violent because of their access to alcohol. As it relates to my own experience, the alcoholics who reside on the outskirts would be less inclined to fight with a more able bodied man as their habits have made them thinner and less powerfully built than those who prefer to spend most of their money on food than beer or drugs. Notice that I have not extended my experience into a grand theory on the commonality that all alcoholics share in personality, I merely described what I have seen in what I conceive of to be a dual identity within town. My conception is plausible, but it is not absolute whereas my experience is largely exact in recollecting and describing what I had seen.

My personal description differs from the journalistic method in that the journalist uses, what I call, a process of localization where he looks at what influences violent crime by talking to the local police, local journalists, the hospitals and the victims of crime themselves. When talking to the victims of crime it is important to get them to clarify what could have caused him or her to be targeted in a such a way and weather or not the attack was calculated or made out of a drunken rage as the statistic would like us to believe.




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Luke "Lantern" Thompson

I am a lay libertarian, bioethicist, writer, philosopher, alternative health and reform advocate and more.