Nothing so disturbing as the fact of ignoring everything.
“To apprehend reality by immersing oneself in it” was the motto of Ryszard Kapuscinski, the great Polish reporter whose time on this planet left a profound mark on journalism and on the way, we understand the world. His career, impeccable and full of human values, reminds us once again of the existence of an essential vocation: a journalism in which commitment, truth and sensitivity to the tragedy of peoples subjected to the incomprehensible violence of war must be paramount.
For Kapuscinski, the secret lies in paying attention to the little things, because in them lies the very secret of life. Likewise, to take an unrestricted vow of honesty in order to avoid falling into the over dimension of the ego and thus keep our feet firmly on the ground, because we are only transmitters of the word of the neediest, the most vulnerable and those who experience, first hand, the cruelty of the powerful.
That is why it is important to remember this now, when the world observes another confrontation between powers in front of the international media, like a rabbit hallucinated by the headlights of a car, forgetting other even more bloody aggressions, where there are also human beings crushed by the violence of other wars and other geopolitical or territorial conflicts as unjust as they are prolonged.
Kapuscinski spoke to us of ethics and values, but journalism has taken the route of convenience and the economic well-being of its owners. Today we have networks under the baton of business conglomerates from where the strings of politics and the pressures of the great powers and interest groups are pulled. The people have been left alone and their tragedies are reflected on the screen as part of an inevitable reality from which we can detach ourselves by simply changing the channel.
The model of journalistic reporting that is factual and, above all, immersed to the core in the reality of the voiceless should be the norm and not the exception, as is the case today. It is a profession on which such fundamental values as respect for human rights, democracy, justice and the exhaustive search for the truth are based. It is therefore not surprising to note the fear of those in power of courageous communicators, against whom they resort to threats, extortion and, as is the case around the world, kidnapping and death.
In the face of the current conflict in Ukraine, shown to the world as if it were a television series, we need to understand the extent to which the threat of war can transform the lives of millions of people into an anteroom to hell, disrupting their way of life, compromising their ability to survive, destroying their environment and depriving them of rights. For those of us who see it from a distance, it is an incomprehensible phenomenon, and reporters who are aware of their role and capable of exercising it independently are essential to grasp this reality in its full dimension.
The world is smaller than we would like to believe, and the repercussions of any armed aggression – which represent a lucrative business for the great powers – can easily reach our doorstep. What would Kapuscinski say?
Ethics in journalism is an obligation, not a nice gesture.