Interpretative Journalism : The best way out in an age of Social Media, Citizen Journalism and news glut


By Kabs Kanu

Journalism is a very romantic profession. Interesting , perplexing, distressing and afflictive events pop up every minute and having to deciifer through the morass of superfluous information to give ever- eager readers what is known as THE NEWS makes our profession the most exciting and exacting .

However, given the inroads that citizen journalism is making into a once exclusive profession , thanks to the advent of social media and Convergent Journalism, news , however interesting has the tendency today to be boring when it hits the pages of print and online newspapers because of the way it is told. When newspapers carry the same headlines and content, reading becomes cumbersome and uninspiring.


Today, due to the glut in news , It is no longer enough for the media to just report that very soon, the opposition APC will be losing 14 seats in Parliament through elections petitions by the SLPP. The bare news will mean nothing to readers , nor will it be appreciated because the same thing had already been reported in the social media by citizen journalists and reporters. Newspapers that insist on merely reporting the bare bones of the news are cheating their readers , especially in Sierra Leone where the public is compelled to buy many newspapers by the vendors who control the show.

Today’s news events must be given a perspective. The significance of the event must be laid out colorfully and masterfully to the readers. Journalists have entered an era when they have to be more interpretative in their reportage to be able to hold down eager readers.

The age -old debate about objectivity and subjectivity in journalism is definitely provoked once again , but journalists need not worry about that because news has never been objective before , even in industrialized countries with advanced media systems. News, like History , has always been subjective . News and History, told by man, will always be subjective. Imperfect man cannot tell a story without subtly injecting his subjective views in it. The choice of headlines , captions and diction to describe principle characters in the news, will always betray reporters however hard they try to disguise their biases.

Journalists today need to be interpreters of the news more than they have ever been before to make news more relevant, refreshing and meaningful. There is so much news out there it is no longer enough just to report it. It must be interpreted for the readers.

When President Maada Bio came to the U.S to attend the UN General Assembly in September, he wrote an educative article for the WASHINGTON POST on the UN Security Council negotiations. Newspapers and even the government media only reported about the article and reproduced it , but nobody took time to analyze it with a view to put it in a perspective and elaborate on the significance of such an article by the new president of a sovereign African nation. President Bio, it must be borne in mind is the Chairman of the African Union Committee of 10 ( C-10 ) , which is propagating and canvassing Africa’s demands for seats in the Permanent and Non- Permanent Categories of the UN Security Council and use of the Veto .

Bio harped on a very important theme in the UN —-The historical injustice that Africa has suffered from in not being a bigger player in the UN , though about 75% of the issues dealt with by the organization pertain to Africa. The President’s article should have been interpreted authoritatively from the standpoint of its importance to the present state of affairs in the UN Security Council Reform agenda , to the Ezulwini and Sirte Declaration, which encapsulate Africa’s position and to the desire to inject a new impetus to the negotiations. Merely reporting that the President wrote an article was not enough.

Yesterday, many citizen journalists provided photos of what they reported as a reconciliation exercise between the Minister of Local Government, Mr. Tetema Tondoneh and the Mayor of Freetown. News media will no doubt carry the story today, but besides catching headlines and a straight report of the event, how many will interpret for readers the significance of a reconciliation between the Minister and the Mayor ?

Journalism should not be about just telling the story. It must be more about showing the readers the importance and significance of the event and what it means to them.

Related Posts