Friday, October 26, 2012

The Politics of Ideology

Ideology is a loaded word, often meaning different things to different people. To me, it refers to your set of ideas, opinions, arguments and principles about everything under the sun, basically your worldview and what you consider important/valuable. Naturally, ideology differs, even among the most similar of people, and wherever there are differences, there is politics – that complex game of imposing your own view as the ‘better’ view.
I have always disliked politics and considered myself ‘apolitical’ until recently when it dawned on me that nobody in this world is truly apolitical. If you have an opinion on anything at all, you have an ideology, and if you have an ideology, you almost certainly engage in politics at some level.
To me, the politics of ideology plays out most notably in the process of producing a campus newspaper. It is intriguing how when a reader sees the final print of a newspaper, he/she has no inkling about the games that have gone behind story selection and placement. There are so many complex issues that come up when trying to plan a paper – what is considered ‘news worthy’? What should be the ‘correct’ writing style – simple or complex language? Who decides what readers really want to read? Do we have to provide content that readers want or content that they need in order to be ‘better, more responsible’ citizens? What is an appropriate story? What is inappropriate?
I may personally think that a campus newspaper should be ‘fun’ and engaging – full of light, colouful stories that can make a reader happy, but others may find this incredibly frivolous, superficial or lowly non-serious tripe. In the quest to impose our own opinions, we often forget that when you find someone’s ideas trashy, they probably feel exactly the same way about yours. We all think our own ideology is the ‘best’ one, if not the ‘right’ one, and there is an endless tug of war involved in getting our way. This, with people who are otherwise our friends. Obviously, it gets frustrating and truly tests how thick-skinned and mature you can be.
Often, you edit a crappy story about an issue you don’t care about, and don’t get any credit for making it look good on the page. Often, you write a good story about a topic nobody else cares about and still get no credit for your hard work and time. Sure, it feels good to see your name in print when the final paper comes out but it’s a thankless job nonetheless because the politics of ideology start all over again as soon as you begin planning the next issue.
That is why I never want to work for a newspaper. Even the corporate grind seems more appealing, if not rewarding, than the endless game of whose story is better and more ‘worthy’. As for the pleasure of seeing my name in print, there are always other ways of achieving that, thank God! 

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