A multi-million pound mural painted by Russian-American artist Mark Rothko was defaced with large black writing yesterday in the worst security breech to hit London’s Tate Modern. Outrage ensued on social networking site Twitter as Rothko began trending. When I hear stories of art being defaced, whether it’s renowned work or simply on the street it strikes sadness within me. If a person dislikes a piece of art, they should leave it be or challenge it with their own work. What can anyone possibly have to gain by destroying something another person has spent time and energy in creating? Surely they cannot feel pride for such cowardice behaviour.
The entire art incident led me to recall a thought-provoking question Dr. Benedetta Brevini posed in an ethics lecture at City University London: Who do you trust more, artists or journalists? The ideal response would have been an overwhelming consensus of journalists being the most trustworthy. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, this was not the case.
The purposes of art and journalism are not dissimilar. Their existence is to tell a story and is often packaged in a way that connects to the reader/listener and can at times reveal more than creator intended.
Art in its many forms plays a key role spreading stories and ideologies from socio-political hand-painted cartoons to political rap, music and poetry. Art throughout history has proven itself to be thought-provoking and beautiful but how far can we go in trusting and ingesting it as a source of truth? An artist could be deemed too free in the ability to impose their own personal opinions whilst producing their work. Ultimately they have no restrictions placed on what they wish to show the world. The nature of art allows it’s creators to enthuse their passion in a way that may overemphasize the element of truth it once stemmed from. All art can be interpreted in the way a reader wishes and therefore cannot be an ideal source of truth. On the other hand, as the saying goes; “there’s no smoke without fire.” All emotions encompassed in an artists work has a purpose; a reason for existing. Each precise stroke of Monet’s “Impression, soleil levant” has a purpose and so began Impressionistic Art.
No-one can deny the need for journalism to be a trustworthy source of information. At the same time it is incredibly influential making a journalists work tricky. The modern-world media can be summed up following a report on Vietnam in 1968 by journalist Walter Cronkite when President Johnson is claimed to have said: “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle-America.” But how much do we rely on media now and how trustworthy is it? After the disastrous year Britain faced with News of the World’s hacking scandal followed by the Leveson inquiry, it’s safe to say there’s room for improvement. Breveni referred to the organization Media Reform which focuses on issues regarding media ethics. Ever growing numbers of media platforms and outlets gives viewers a mass choice of coverage. Viewers therefore have a responsibility to look at multiple media platforms that are available to them and think critically to make their own conclusion. Different outlets may use different images and different diction to present stories due to different house-styles. It is impossible for a journalist to present absolutely everything in news packages so they must make judgments on what is important. A journalist may be restricted in what they can present therefore not able to tell the story efficiently. An example being news writers who are often unable to use many adjectives as descriptions can be deemed subjective.
Art and journalism are different methods of telling stories to the world. Both must be respected for the significant role they play in society. And whilst it may ultimately journalism’s job to share the news, audiences must learn to understand the way the media world works and is changing. They must remember to always think critically regardless of the where the news came from.