To a friend concerned about my journalistic credibility

Monday, January 16, 2017
Adapted from my reply on Facebook to a friend worried about journalism's "loss of focus on the tenants held so dear by those who used to lived by them" and concerned my commentary — and my sharing of others' commentary — has jeopardized my reputation as a journalist:

I'm touched by your concern about my career and my reputation, but I encourage you not to fear on my behalf.

You seem to have adopted a narrow view of journalism's true role in democracy for much of American history. You seem stuck in the mindset of the relatively brief "Age of Mass Media," characterized by, as Will Oremus noted in Slate last week, "traditional media outlets’ intense desire to be perceived as sober and objective, and thus to be respected by conservatives and liberals alike—a business imperative that has been transmuted into an ethical injunction."

I doubt you really were paying attention to my work, dating back to my time as a graduate student in journalism, when I celebrated the work of reporters who were open about their informed conclusions and didn't hide behind the false equivalence of "he-said-he-said" reporting.

I got into this business partly because I was inspired by journalists like Mike Royko, who did nothing to hide his opinions; and by Woodward and Bernstein, who were committed to seeking the truth but who were condemned at the time by people using rhetoric disturbingly similar to yours.

As I've said many times, I'm far more worried about reporting by journalists who (incredibly and impossibly) pretend to have no opinions than by those who are open about their position and let an audience decide, story by story, which reporting is fair and which isn't.

Journalism's a practice much broader and richer than your pigeonhole allows.

Also, the word you want is "tenets."

Your friend forever,

Me

3 comments:

Phil said...

"As I've said many times, I'm far more worried about reporting by journalists who (incredibly and impossibly) pretend to have no opinions than by those who are open about their position and let an audience decide, story by story, which reporting is fair and which isn't."
So, are you saying that a journalist/reporter needs to express their personal opinion in order for the laymen to decide if their story is fair?

Charlie Meyerson said...

No. I'm saying I'm more worried about journalists who (falsely or stupidly, either way) claim never to come to any conclusions.

Troy L. Jones said...
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