A Call for Journalistic Courage

Important essay by Walter Pincus on the role of the press in a free society:

Today’s mainstream print and electronic media want to be neutral, unbiased and objective, presenting both or all sides as if they were on the sidelines refereeing a game in which only the players—the government and its opponents—can participate. They have increasingly become common carriers, transmitters of other people’s ideas and thoughts, irrespective of import, relevance and at times even accuracy.

At a time when it is most needed, the media, and particularly newspapers, have dropped the idea of having experienced reporters provide analysis and context and turned instead to retired public figures or so-called experts to provide commentary. It was not always this way.

From the 1950s through the 1980s, I could name reporters and columnists whose experience on their beats or in their areas made them thoughtful and respected commentators. Younger reporters today are regularly shifted around from beat to beat, never really having enough time to master totally complex subjects, such as health, public education and environmental policies. Coverage then depends on statements and pronouncements by government sources or their critics.

Jay Rosen posts a long and thoughtful comment (here quoting Josh Marshall): “The important thing is to show integrity– not to be a neuter, politically. And having good facts that hold up is a bigger advantage than claiming to reflect all sides equally well.”
Related, and best headline of the day: MSM Still In Trouble–Also Generalissimo Francisco Franco Is Still Dead.