Journalistic Heresy

Jay Rosen encourages J-Schools to commit journalistic heresy.

Okay, not quite, but he’s bringing up crucial questions at a time when the Religion of Journalism is taking hits from the left and right.

Here’s a big one:

  • “In your view, what sort of bias should the American press have, given where it finds itself today?”

Whoa. That’s something I’ve been wondering about, myself. Personally, I tend to see more conservative bias than liberal bias in the big media today. No wait, that’s not accurate. Here’s what I see: bias in American media does not run strictly Left and Right; media bias is either pro-establishment or anti-establishment, regardless of who sleeps in the White House.

I prefer an anti-establishment bias.

This is where the heresy comes into play. The Religion of Journalism (don’t worry, Profs, I won’t start using that phrase in class…yet.) states that there is no bias.

Check out Rosen’s discussion of how CNN correspondent Bob Franken described himself: “When I’m Reporting, I am a Citizen of the World.”

Ask yourself this: As a journalist, do you get to decide who or what you represent? Or by taking on that role are you obliged to accept all the international that comes with it. Was Bob Franken an “American Journalist working in Iraq”? or a “Citizen of the World”? The harder question (which Jay asks and answers): What was Danny Pearl?

2 Replies to “Journalistic Heresy”

  1. I disagree that anti-establishment bias is good.

    Think back 100 years. The establishments of that time, including the Czar and the Kaiser, had many faults. But in the darkest depths of their hearts, they never even considered arbitrary killings of political opponents. Once they were overthrown, the bodies piled up by the tens of millions.

    The problem with “anti-establishment bias” is that it assumes that getting rid of the present establishment will be an improvement. That isn’t something that should be assumed, it’s a conclusion that should be reached only when there is hard evidence to support it.

    Too many people have died from having their lives played with by know-it-alls.

    [Ed: I’ve removed an irrational tagline from this comment – RS]

  2. Steve – anti-establishment bias does not necessarily equal going against the government at every turn – it means questioning the decisions made by a government on behalf of the people – an essential part of any democracy.

    You wrote “Too many people have died from having their lives played with by know-it-alls.”

    Yes, exactly. And that’s why the press should always ask the know-it-alls for evidence, and push to understand the rationale of the know-it-alls when they start playing with the lives of the people.

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