Should the NYT Report the Truth?
January 12, 2012 1 Comment
Short answer: Well, NER.
I’m amazed that this question even has to be asked. Yet, in a way, I’m glad they did.
I’ve never thought much of journalism–this goes back to my days at WKU, which has, reportedly, a very good journalism program. I was of the opinion that journalism really shouldn’t be a separate field of study, and I expressed that opinion quite often. What was the point, I reasoned, when one could major in English, with a focus on writing? The journalism program pushed forth a very dry, bland writing style. Their stars were more reminiscent of a rabid tabloid columnist than anything else. The good writers that emerged from that program were good writers despite the program, not because of it.
What makes a good journalist is a combination of being a good writer and a decent person: write well, hunger for truth, ask the difficult questions, and always, when reporting, make known what your purpose is, and ask permission to quote.
Each genre of writing has a different purpose. The purpose of journalism is to inform, to educate, to spread truth and expose lies. Because of this, the public grants journalism an element of trust–the words of a journalist are trusted by the public to be true, to be the whole story.
Journalism, clearly, has betrayed that trust.
Perhaps this is the beginning of an effort to earn that trust again. However, it is a sign of how badly that trust has been betrayed when I wonder if this is an honest effort, or perhaps a marketing outreach to discover which market is larger: the one of truth or of lies.