People say that there are two sides to every story. But I’ve come to understand that this perception stems from personal interest: there’s “our side” and then there’s everyone else’s. Bias develops when we have a certain interest in something. All of the sudden, everything enters black-and-white terms. Somebody walks away and you think they’re giving you the cold shoulder.
I’m sipping Coca-Cola to avoid slamming beers and I’m smoking a cigarette to ward off stress. But the world is never a choice between two options: this is a false dilemma. There is always a third option on the table – catching up with friends instead of sitting at home alone is one example. Shunning excess consumption when it’s wounding your potential to create is another.
Just as there is a third option, there are not two, but many sides to a story. Classic comics tend to carve the world into the good guys and the bad eggs. But then again, there are also many bad guys and good women cooking eggs for breakfast – hence film noir and hardboiled fiction: the idea that if you’re going to characterize people as good or evil, you realize with time that there are many degrees in between. And when you know someone very well, you don’t even try to place them on a scale. They stand alone.
Stories are equally unique. The more people involved, the more complex they get. The beauty of a newspaper story is that it never really ends: it grows and develops with time. If you write for a newspaper, you’ll get to meet some pretty interesting characters. Who knows, you might meet some sleazy politician who’s actually pretty funny, a literary hero who turns out to be another soapbox ego, and plenty of students who have interesting lives beyond their studies. Possibly the most satisfying experience for a writer is having the chance to speak with someone who really inspires them – and that’s when you know that “good news” also has its place in the press.
Although the media certainly keeps a close eye on the “people in power,” it does not exist primarily to quarrel with them or fight the proverbial man, as those skeptical of “alternative” or “independent” media may assume. I believe that the primary role and motivation for those who work in media should be positive as opposed to antagonistic: to shed light on a debate, to provide readers with interesting content, and to empower and strengthen the community within which they exist. And if there is one fight worth having, it is for an individual’s freedom to express, create, and communicate. Some people say that free media is the future; I say it’s here and now.
Rana Encol is a Daily News editor. She’s also a U3 English literature student. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.