Skip to content

The Future of Journalism Panel: Why Writing Matters

By Madihah Najeeb, BA Global Liberal Arts

To commemorate the importance of journalism and the role of media across the world, the executives of the SOAS Spirit hosted a creative panel, ‘The Future of Journalism’, to inspire and encourage both beginner and novice writers into the world of media and journalistic writing. 

The panel of journalists, who were all former and fellow ‘SOASians’, Khadija Kothia, Ali Mitib, Joana Ramiro and Muhammad Almaazi, shared their expertise on the current affairs of journalism and advice on some of the challenges they faced in order to achieve their current roles in the media world. Through this discussion, we learned some valuable guidance on the world of media and journalistic writing.

Khadija is currently an Assistant News Editor at ITV News, where she produces daily news bulletins and feature stories. She also writes local, national and international news for the website. Ali Mitib is a news reporter at The Times, covering major stories from crime and social affairs to education and the environment. Joana Ramiro is a freelance journalist, writer and broadcaster and political commentator who has worked for renowned mainstream media platforms such as the BBC World Service, the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and the Guardian. And finally, we had Muhammad Almaazi, who is a freelancer who has contributed to numerous news outlets, including the Jacobin, the Dissenter, The Canary and Open Democracy, he has also covered the hearings of the Julian Assange case.

Topics on ethical journalism were covered, and the panellists discussed the importance of following protocols and being aware of what stories not to include as well as what stories you can include, emphasising the element of trust. Being humane and telling an accurate story is vital as you are in the face of people who are going through trauma, it should be avoided that these people are treated as case studies. Preventing misrepresentation is vital as these stories will eventually become commodified products which are shared with a wide range of audiences, and that by being a freelance writer, in particular, you can manage the expectation of people you are speaking to but must always maintain respect and keep the interviewees and speakers informed with your work. 

Looking at the line between platforming dangerous ideologies and informing them, we learned that mainstream media can overall censor your personal views when you are writing. It is important to reconcile your politics with objective reporting as it can be difficult to be fully impartial without recognising your biased perspective on it. In the media world, there is a hierarchy when it comes to freedom of expression; you can have a bias as long as you can back it up with objective facts. It is also important to note that you are providing information with your writing, so you must be fair and accurate as it is difficult as a writer to choose who or who cannot access your writing if it is available to everyone. 

Another question which was discussed was whether the media can hold political institutions into account. Responses by the panellists began by mentioning that journalists do not decide whether the government is doing a good job or a bad job when it comes to running this country. It was highlighted that broadcasters have rules on impartiality because they receive public money, but there are some newspapers which often back candidates and people for elections, and we tend to see left-wing papers supporting the Labour Party and right-wing papers supporting the Conservatives. Journalism can do its part in contributing opinions and support for certain political institutions because both institutions use each other, so it is difficult for media to hold political institutions such as the government and UK politics into account when it comes to issues with society. 

The topic was then shifted to Mohammad and his involvement in the Julian Assange extradition hearings, where we were provided with an overview of who he is, what his charges are, and Mohammad’s perspective on this matter concerning journalism, which touched upon the lack of journalistic defences. From this, a discussion on the dangers of journalism took place, and the panellists shared their views on how UK laws are lacking in amendments to protect journalists, which means there is more to what a journalist cannot report on than what they are allowed to report on. I was unaware of how closely linked law and journalism could be, and also learnt that there are lawyers for journalists that can keep them safe in difficult investigations when carrying out a report. 

“By connecting, informing and inspiring, the world needs journalism to provide voices for the voiceless and support initiations for change. “

The talk then ended with questions on twitters impact on Journalism and how it is useful for networking but can be an issue for mental health if it is overused. The lack of diversity was also mentioned regarding how different voices are needed, otherwise the same story will be told by the same people. 

Ending on this important note, this panel provided us with a valuable insight into the realities of working for the media and being a journalist in today’s world. Hopefully, this will encourage students of SOAS to write journalistically to inform wider audiences of the matters of the world and be expressive with their own thoughts. By connecting, informing and inspiring, the world needs journalism to provide voices for the voiceless and support initiations for change. 

Photo Caption: The SOAS Spirit Instagram post promoting The Future of Journalism Panel discussion, 21/02/2023 (Credit: @soasspirit via Instagram).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *