Sunday, December 10, 2006

objectivity, where art thou?

Jay: great interview!

Arlan: I agree with you that it's disturbing but I'm not so sure objectivity will become more critical as a matter of course.
At the practical level, I can understand (although I see it as a problem) that the path of least resistance (*avoiding* being "shredded") is very tempting, as long as you can get away with it.

And that doesn't seem to be much of a problem -- it's pretty much established as the "main stream." So unless an ideological move in the opposite direction occurs, I don't see much hope.


P.S. The way I see it, the idea that we are just not naturally objective is a valid one. I think the disturbing part is to conclude that because we all have our smaller or bigger handicaps in that respect, we should just revel in them and not even attempt to overcome them. That seems to result in abandoning the job altogether.


comment on the interview itself

Jay, I completely agree with you on this:

"When I say, organs of the press could have tried to answer the question: did the president mislead us into war? what I mean is treat it as an urgent but also an open question, a matter unsettled and in need of calm, clear-headed investigation. Then investigate. Answer the question. Then defend the answer. True, you might discover something else is �the story,� leading in a different direction. I�d argue the nation still deserves an answer to the question."

I'm not buying his answer. Of course it wouldn't be easy to release it to the public and just sit and take the reactions (at least some of them not pleasant, either way the conclusion would go...) but doesn't that come with the territory? Hasn't that always been one of the difficulties journalists had to overcome? It's just not pleasant... plenty of times...-- it's not *supposed* to be! (The internet has just made it easier for a lot more people to react.)

If answering that question (to the best of one's ability) would be "interpretive history" it's a really sad state of affairs... I mean, ALL the facts are in (have been for a very long time...): there is no good reason why you can't look at the facts and decide yes, no or inconclusive.

And all those are valid answers, as long as you do your best take all available facts into account and "show your work" (give the step by step reasons why you conclude one way or the other) -- so your work can be properly critiqued.

The more balanced your approach, the less open you lay yourself to serious valid criticism. And you'd probably still not come out completely "unchewed" but you would at least get RESPECT... The criticism would not be that you, as a journalist (and by extension journalism as a whole, if no journalist would do this) is useless....



Sorry for the delay, all...

Tim: hmmm... not quite sure what you are saying...

re: "Your last post shows the problem with the previous one. If a local newspaper is sending space "Did the president mislead us into war?", they are not spending space on "what have they tried to make things better? what would the impact of having it go dead be on the particular community they are serving?"

I didn't see them as being at all related... My suggestion was for *Jay* (sorry for not making it clear), for a possible future "article": to really look into a struggling newspaper (I think there would be a wealth of really good info coming out of something like that).

But since you brought it up, I *do* think that having well reasoned articles on topics such as: "Did the president mislead us into war?" -- especially if they were unique to the particular newspaper -- could really improve readership, which in my mind would be "making things better" (for the struggling newspaper...)

re: The impact to the local community is less when the newspaper is sending print space on something other outlets are doing a better job reporting. After all most local outlets only report the feed fron the NYT, AP or other national news outlet for national news.

well.. that's just part of it... I think the paper likely serves the community in more ways than just journalistically and those would have to be taken into consideration too...

And just so you have a much better idea of where I am coming from: I think the newspapers may be in much worse trouble than we know... (and if not now maybe in a not so distant future, they might actually need government support).

Anna: no

Jay: you are welcome!


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