Saturday, January 28, 2006

The culture of modern journalism


Among journalists, there's a deep sense of pride in the craft of journalism - I just attended a luncheon yesterday with some old practitioners, and they are proud of the work they do. And honestly, much of it is excellent excellent work. And they are keen to talk ethics, and blogging, and print journalism. But whenever I bring up TV, and especially cable TV, immediately reporters throw up their hands and avoid responsibility. They say things like "Chris Matthews is an asshole" or "Don't engage him" or "Fox News isn't what I do", as if the American public's responsibility to police the craft of journalism that they take so much pride in policing.

That same standard is NEVER applied to bloggers - are they journalists, are they reporters, are they mean people on the internet - there's endless handwringing about that question, and a deep sense that this-is-a-very-important issue-that-we-must-all-talk-and-fret-abo ut. Well, that's fine, except that if you believe you belong to a craft, and there is a self-policing mechanism, you have to actually self-police.

That means asking the same questions of Chris Matthews and Tim Russert as you ask of bloggers and journalists. I don't see that happening. And since television is an immensely powerful medium that dominates our discourse, I find it fairly irresponsible that there is such a lack of discourse.

And it also means, don't have the vapors if a few hundred bloggers get angry with the Washington Post for perpetuating a Republican talking point and then ignore rightwing blowhards when they spew hate speech all over us.

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