Monday, December 12, 2005

Whatever Happened to Objective Journalism?

Seneca the Younger raised this question in an earlier post. After some memory and web searching, I managed to find this old post by Callimachus, What's Wrong With Journalism, that I think lays out some of the events in the moral decline of journalism. Callimachus, himself a journalist, speaks of the environment at a small newspaper when he began:

A good newspaper editor spent time in the back shop every day. The people who set up the copy for the presses read it as they did so -- in this picture they literally typed it in by hand. In my day, they read it on the proofs. And they would tell you what they thought about it. Same with the guys who ran the printing press, in their blue overall suits and ink-blacked hands. If an editor wanted to know what the world outside his office walls thought about the news, and his presentation of it, this was a great place to start.

But the nature of printing technology changes and class segregation, the infamous bubble, creeps in:

Now, where I work, there still is a back shop. It consists of about 5 people who oversee the computer systems. Unless we meet them by chance at the coffee machine, we newsroom denizens rarely speak to them. Most of them have computer backgrounds; they don't have ink or wax or lead splattered on their clothes. The process of making a newspaper is now computer to computer to printing press.

And he concludes

And somewhere, along the way, the American media comes unmoored from the American people. Perhaps it would have happened anyhow.

I think this same process has taken place in many other American institutions. The universities come to mind. A leisured upper class elite, isolated from the necessities and realities of life, has come to power. They don't really concern themselves with the safety and wellbeing of ordinary people because, well, they themselves are doing just fine, thank you.

In closing I will link to a post where Callimachus describes the social atmosphere in a modern newsroom: My Left Behind III. I don't think anyone here will be surprised at what he has to say, as it is much as we might imagine.


Anonymous said...

Glenn Reynolds made the point the other day that it might not have occured to university elites that the taxpayers don't want to pay for some of the stuff they are hearing from them right now. They same smug self satisfied elitism exists in the press.

The rest of us are just supposed to sit back and listen to this nonsense for ever and ever.

I think the thing that annoys me the most about the antiwar folks is their complete lack of respect for my right to my own opinion.

It sounds like I am not alone in that.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

I think the thing that annoys me the most about the antiwar folks is their complete lack of respect for my right to my own opinion.

That's because they don't see it as a matter of opinion; they see it as a moral battle between good and evil. And you are on the evil side. The concept of honest disagreement fell by the wayside when "activism" became the new god.

buddy larsen said...

It's not so much a lack of respect as it is just plain little bitty old hate.