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Journalism Advocacy: How Three Organizations Responded to Attacks Against Journalists in Egypt
Unformatted Document Text:  Where should journalists draw the line when reporting the attacks, arrests, and threats endured by their professional colleagues? It is highly doubtful that any journalist would respond by saying both sides of this issue should be explored. News consumers practically never see interviews with interrogators explaining their reasons for arresting, blindfolding, and detaining a journalist for twenty-eight hours. The interrogator likely will not make himself available, of course. The larger issue, though, is that point of view is deemed unworthy of discussion, and most people watching, listening to, or reading such reports would likely agree. That is not being impartial, either. The International Federation of Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders were founded with specific philosophies regarding the defense and protection of journalists against authoritarian or economic powers. They bear no expectations of impartiality regarding this topic. However, for practicing professionals, deferring to these organizations whenever journalists are threatened would seem a less than satisfying alternative to simply speaking up for themselves. Daniel Hallin’s model of journalistic spheres offers some guidance on this issue. The model contains two concentric circles that resemble a doughnut. Outside of the doughnut lies the Sphere of Deviance, where certain ideas deemed unworthy of discussion by journalists and the political mainstream reside. In effect, these ideas are treated as if they have no credibility. The doughnut itself encompasses the Sphere of Legitimate Controversy, where “objectivity and balance reign as the supreme journalistic virtues.” This is where important issues are recognized as worthy of vigorous debate. Inside the doughnut hole is the Sphere of Consensus. This is where non-controversial ideas reside. Here, “journalists do not feel compelled

Authors: Cain, Butler.
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Where should journalists draw the line when reporting the attacks, arrests, and threats 
endured by their professional colleagues? It is highly doubtful that any journalist would respond 
by saying both sides of this issue should be explored. News consumers practically never see 
interviews with interrogators explaining their reasons for arresting, blindfolding, and detaining a 
journalist for twenty-eight hours. The interrogator likely will not make himself available, of 
course. The larger issue, though, is that point of view is deemed unworthy of discussion, and 
most people watching, listening to, or reading such reports would likely agree. That is not being 
impartial, either.
The International Federation of Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and 
Reporters Without Borders were founded with specific philosophies regarding the defense and 
protection of journalists against authoritarian or economic powers. They bear no expectations of 
impartiality regarding this topic. However, for practicing professionals, deferring to these 
organizations whenever journalists are threatened would seem a less than satisfying alternative to 
simply speaking up for themselves. Daniel Hallin’s model of journalistic spheres offers some 
guidance on this issue. 
The model contains two concentric circles that resemble a doughnut. Outside of the 
doughnut lies the Sphere of Deviance, where certain ideas deemed unworthy of discussion by 
journalists and the political mainstream reside. In effect, these ideas are treated as if they have no 
credibility. The doughnut itself encompasses the Sphere of Legitimate Controversy, where 
“objectivity and balance reign as the supreme journalistic virtues.” This is where important 
issues are recognized as worthy of vigorous debate. Inside the doughnut hole is the Sphere of 
Consensus. This is where non-controversial ideas reside. Here, “journalists do not feel compelled 


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