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Our Charter

Sunday 26 December 2010

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Who are we ?

JIM is originally six people meeting together, friends and comrades. For
the most part, we aren’t professional journalists. Some of us are
teachers, others work in unions, others in the private sector and some are
unemployed. For many of us, the journey in journalism is a new one. This
journey was born from a realisation and worry regarding the state of the
media: conformist discourse, poor reflection and analysis, complacency
toward the power apparatus and the economical system. This realisation has
brought us to think up and put some time and effort in a news website
project.

What is our project ?

JIM is an independent, rigorous and committed news website with a popular
aim.

Independent:
Faced with media conformism, our ambition is to offer a novel approach to
current events, i.e. one with a critical eye that refuses the diktat of
dominant ideologies and that tackles and reports on issues which are either
overlooked or brushed over by the mainstream media. In order to maintain
this intellectual independence, we are financed neither by advertisement
nor by private or public entities with the potential to exert pressure
regarding the content of articles and reports we publish. We are
self-financed. Writers who participate in the project are not paid.

Rigorous:
Concerning form, rigour implies quoting, verifying, drawing testimony from
multiple sources, cross-examining statements and faithfully carrying them
while respecting privacy. We also support an approach to current events
that rests on scientific rigour –or scientific materialism- i.e. a
combination of two attitudes: to be concerned with material facts and to
adopt a strictly scientific method. This positioning entails the refusal of
any argument which is a matter of fancy or a spiritual interpretation of
history and of the development of the world. Our definition of rigour is
also in keeping with a spirit of “intellectual self-defence” [1]
regarding manipulation that can be encountered in political, economical,
media and other forms of discourse, whether lexical (connotations,
vagueness, euphemisms…), rhetorical (arguments from authority,
generalisations, false dilemmas, confusion of correlation and
causality…), or number-related (polls, graphs…).

Committed:
First a point of clarification: objective journalism is a myth. Unlike a
commonly accepted and widespread belief, no media is. Aside from various
influences and pressures they may come under relating to their work,
journalists and their superiors are also agents of society. As such, they
emulate a certain amount of values and discourse, whether intentionally or
not. That their values conform to the dominant ideology absolutely does not
make them “objective”. The choice of the topic, the title, the angle,
the lexicon, sources, illustrations, and naturally, the choice of
commentary, force a certain frame of reference on the receiver, directly
influencing his or her perception of the world and his or her stand.

Consequentially, the goal of this site is not to lay claim to an
impossible objectivity. However, we insist that distorting the news is out
of the question for us. On the contrary, rigour and intellectual honesty
are at the top of our list of concerns (see preceding topic). We bear a
committed and critical view of the news.

This commitment is not set in a uniform ideological framework. Different
political views mix together at JIM and this will continue as time goes by.
There is no blotting out people’s specificities, but rather working
together on the basis of principles that converge and form the cornerstone
of our editorial line : equality, freedom, solidarity, open-mindedness,
environmentalism.

By equality, we mean the refusal of all forms of domination, exploitation
or discrimination, whether economical, social (e.g. racist, sexist),
nationalist or imperialist. Equality rimes with liberty, another word for
freedom, which branches out in freedom of opinion, of expression, of
association, of movement, of sexual orientation… But not only ; freedom
is also the right to emancipation and the possibility of making life
choices. The concept of freedom is linked to, i.a. the refusal of dogmatism
and authoritarianism, whether religious, political or economical.
Solidarity with those who strive for equality and freedom comes naturally
in our area of concerns. Open-mindedness: the point is for us to be very
careful about avoiding the traps of ethnocentrism (for a people, the idea
that their lifestyle, their values are superior to other people’s) which
results, in “our” Europe, in a westernised view of current events.
Preoccupation over the environment has been very “trendy” these past
few years. We could be happy about that. But a closer look at economical
and political discourse frequently reveals a motivation to reassure the
consumer or voter so as not to lose his or her support, rather than call
into question a system obsessed with productivity that causes most of the
environmental deterioration in the first place.

In our opinion, the defence of these principles requires a comprehensive
criticism of the capitalist model which, while inherently unequal, violent,
poverty-inducing, exclusionist and unfriendly toward the environment, is
presented and imposed as the only “realistic” system. Ubiquitous
pro-capitalist propaganda works on discrediting criticism that goes against
it –described as “old-fashioned”, “unrealistic” or even
“dangerous”- fuelling a feeling of impotence and resignation among the
people. Those who rise against it nevertheless expose themselves to violent
repression.

With a popular aim:
With the goal of maximum circulation, it is essential for us to provide
information that is accessible to a large readership. Scientific data need
to be popularized so that everyone is able to understand them and, in turn,
use them as a tool for analysis, criticism and strife.

Role and modification of the charter

The principles listed in the present charter set the editorial line of
JIM. They form a necessary reference point for the Editorial Board that
selects the articles to be published online. These principles are firm;
they cannot be questioned. However, they may be added to and specified as
time goes by. Any amendment of the charter requires a unanimous decision
from the Editorial Board.

Footnotes

[1In reference to the book A Short Course in Intellectual Self-defense by Normand Baillargeon who borrowed the title to Noam Chomsky.

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