Biases or Ethnographic Views Clouding Reality

Control Room (film)
Control Room (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Control Room, is a documentary written by Sujit R. Varm that offers a unique look into the 2004 Iraq War through the eyes of the Al Jazeera, the Arab world’s most popular news outlet, the United States Military and from the beloved family members of the causalities of the war. This documentary opens the doors to what millions of citizens never see, the hidden battle within the Iraq war.

This battle is between all of those involved in war and the media sources that report on it. War is never an easy topic to report on and by no means is it ever simple for anyone to watch another die nor is it easy to report on it without being consumed by emotion and fear.

This film posed many questions for me as a hopeful journalist, many questions involving ethics and ways to report on a shocking situation while providing hope for all those that look to the media for answers.

It was mentioned in the film that when pictures posted by Al Jazeera, showing horrific photographs of dying men, women and children it sparked a different emotion for those of that race and those from the United States.

Joshua Rushing, a United States Solider, describes his conflicting emotions when he saw the photographs of killed Iraqi’s published by Al Jazeera versus photographs of U.S. soldiers published by the United States.

“I just saw people on the other side, and those people in the Al Jazeera offices must have felt the way I was feeling that night, and it upset me on a profound level that I wasn’t bothered as much the night before,” said Rushing.

Is it possible for a journalist to provide reality while knowing that the opposing side wont see the truth behind your message but claim bias within your intentions?

Throughout the film you see both sides struggling to reach their people, however they seem to run into conflicting criticisms from the opposing side.

Samir Khader, program editor for Al Jazeera, proposed a concept that should be considered by every journalist, there should always be justification behind the final decision.

“There will be one single thing that will be left: victory, and that’s it. People like victory, they don’t like justifications. You don’t have to justify it, once you are victorious, that’s it,” said Khader.

Should the end outcome of a story be the final decision of it all? With every story that a journalist is asked to write, should there be justifications for what happened? The story should go beyond the final decision and a journalist should dig deep into the truth of the situation.

This documentary was created in 2004, concerning a war that has been decided and long since passed, however history has a way or repeating itself. With the upcoming disputes between the Arab world and the United States, I challenge you, as a journalist to discover a way to help both sides distinguish the truth, whether they agree or they oppose.

The truth of a story should consume your writing and reach out to every open ear, open mind and open heart. Truth will find its way, don’t let your own bias or ethnographic views cloud reality.