Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A quote for the day

On whether j0urnalists should strive to be neutral, disinterested observers. It’s by Jay Rosen in an  interview byThe Economist. Rosen is a professor of journalism at New York University and author of the book titled What Are Journalists For?:
I do not think journalists should “join the team”. They bridle at that, for good reason. Power-seeking and truth-seeking are different behaviours, and this is how we distinguish politics from journalism. I think it does take a certain detachment from your own preferences and assumptions to be a good reporter. The difficulty is that neutrality has its limits. Taken too far, it undermines the very project in which a serious journalist is engaged.
Suppose the forces that want to convince Americans that Barack Obama is a Muslim or wasn’t born in the United States start winning, and more and more people believe it. This is a defeat for journalism — in fact, for verification itself. Neutrality and objectivity carry no instructions for how to react to something like that. They aren’t “wrong”, they’re just limited.
The American press does not know what to do when neutrality, objectivity, balance and “report both sides” reach their natural limits. And so journalists tend to deny that there are such limits. But with this denial they’ve violated the code of the truth-teller because these limits are real. See the problem?
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