BY ANDREA MORANTE, The New York Times
In today’s fast-paced world, a simple skim through an article can have the power of either re-shaping or confirming our knowledge of the world. We, as eaders and reporters, are used to relying on the recounts of events that occur in places that are far beyond our scope of vision. Here at Harvard Model United Nations (HNMUN), a quick read through the Press Corps news blog may serve conference-goers as a relevant source of information for understanding the on-goings of other committees. That is precisely why reporters of the Press Corps Team need to be aware of the power that they hold in their actions.
With two days of debate having passed, it is hard to not notice the hefty portion of critique that has been raised towards the actions and proposals of delegations in different committees. For instance, The New York Times has placed an attentive eye on the actions of the delegations such as that of the United States of America, the State of Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates through challenging opinion pieces and press conferences. Other news organizations such as The Guardian and Reuters have also shown discernment inside and outside committee through the publishing of The Boston Globe and The Dawn. Although these have been highly informative and groundbreaking contributions, our news media organization believes that it is crucial to further innovate on how we- reporters at HNMUN Press Corps- present impartial critique.
The New York Times believes that factual reporting requires more than courage for shedding light towards conflict, it requires audacity for finding instances of advancement. As media critic Brent Cunningham once stated, “We reporters are biased toward conflict because it is more interesting than stories without conflict; we are biased toward sticking with the pack because it is safe; we are biased toward event-driven coverage because it is easier; we are biased toward existing narratives because they are safe and easy. Mostly, though, we are biased in favor of getting the story, regardless of whose ox is being gored.”
Indeed, The New York Times holds a responsibility to serve as a watchdog for public interest by relentless questioning and reporting in committees at HNMUN. As a news organization, we cannot conform when it comes to covering pressing topics such as war, crime, disease, famine, or corruption. However, we also hold responsibility for informing our public beyond the failures and deficiencies we are able to identify. Too often times, our own vigor for assembling news material can result on the unnecessary depiction of victims or rivals rather than a reflection of truth. Just in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), a short tune to the current discussions regarding the topic of “Violence Against the LGBTQ” might show us how focusing on the LGBTQ with an eye for what could be considered as a “hot topic” could result in inciting our readers disregard the empowerment that continues to grow in the LBTQ community, or on the belief that Middle Eastern and North African member states (MENA) are not achieving progress in the establishment of more inclusive societies.
With so many parallel discussions going on, it can be easy for us journalists to carry ourselves from conflict to conflict and leave our readers with a flawed impression of advancements made through debate. This is why it is crucial to raise critique towards our own actions-and not just towards those of member states’ representatives. Just like we in any investigative piece or field report, we can always light further our own truth through continual and open questioning.
Are we reporters, as advocates of truth, working towards identifying and recounting points of contrast rather than amplifying them through our narratives? Are we aware of the effects that our choices- what stories we cover, who we talk to and what kinds of questions do we ask- will have on our audience? Are we working towards establishing trust or skepticism with delegates that we interact with?
The New York Times is confident that a constant check to this questions can make a difference in the quality coverages we reporters make on the pending session of debate. Whether intending to work on news stories through interviews, Press Conferences, or field-reporting, we believe that an honest and critical answer to these questions will result news that, as our slogan goes, “fit into print.”