The Guardian is not a newspaper

What is the difference between a newspaper and a pamplet or party newsletter?

The former is intended to inform people. The latter is consciously partisan. One expects a newsletter produced by a political party or a pamphlet produced by a lobby group to be entirely one-sided. Traditionally, a newspaper has always balanced news reporting with its editorial line. Of course; one expects a newspaper to have a particular editorial line and to promote that. But, historically, at least one has usually been able to rely on a newspaper to actually do basic reporting and give you an accurate picture of events on the ground – before it adds its editorial line and comment.

The Guardian is something different. It purports (I think) to be a newspaper – but it behaves like a party newsletter. The following two articles – one from the Guardian and one from Al-Jazeera illustrate this well. Both are on exactly the same topics – how Afghans feel waking up to a new situation in their country with the Taliban in charge.

The Guardian article interviews only people who think the Taliban takeover is a disaster. There are emotive accounts of a young woman who feels like giving up on life and a young man who wants to leave the country. The headline is “People are broken” – taken from one of the interviews.

The Al-Jazeera article has the headline “War-weary Afghans divided on Taliban rule”. Al-Jazeera, incidentally, is no fan-boy for the Taliaban and you can find plenty of articles critcising them on Al-Jazeera. This article gives the views both of those who think the Taliban takeover is a disaster and those who think it is a good thing. (For example; one interviewee talks about the corruption under the US backed regime). The article also records that some people are just glad that the war is over and are more worried about poverty than the Taliban.

Which of these two articles is more closely representing the reality in Afghanistan? Which of these two articles is doing journalism? Which allows its readers to make up their own minds and which is just pumping out a narrative line? Which is aligned with democracy and which with totalitarianism?

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer