Sunday, April 01, 2007
The Potter Box
The Potter Box allows for clear decisions in terms of deciding loyalties when a specific and conclusive definition of the event being evaluated is established, but is this also the case when the event's definition is unclear? For instance, in the case of many international events, facts can be confusing and hard to understand because of different cultural norms and the issue of specifics being lost in translation. Is the potter box still useful when this is the case? I believe so. Taking as much information as possible into consideration in order to formulate the most accurate description as we can is often the best we can do. Even when we can't confirm the exactness of our definition we must move forward. When looking at what Hume says about the distribution of information--that it is better to get information out sooner, even when that information isn't guaranteed to be accurate, than to wait for a sure thing at which time the information is no longer relevant or useful--we can make the same assumption about deciding loyalties. Sometimes we must arrive at a conclusion before we can be sure of what exactly happened. The truth is elusive and waiting around for a sure thing is unrealistic. We must take the facts we have and use our common sense to best judge the situation. As reporters, this means we try to get the facts and we always aim for the truth, but when we can't get the sure thing, we must still act. We have decisions to make and deadlines to meet--sometimes we have to take the shot without knowing exactly what we will hit. This is the nature of the business. Asking a stock broker to predict the market's future would be foolish, such is the case with asking a journalist to print only the unwavering truth. Back to the Potter Box--asking ourselves to make decisions and decide upon loyalties only when we can be certain every aspect of the situation is far from realistic. We aim, fire, and hope for the best. The best, in terms of truth, is not the truth--it is as close we can come to it. A reporter's duty is to work towards gaining truth. It is not the reporter's duty to be the truth.