Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Three Two essays that are required reading.

Added Oct 31:
An honest look behind the curtain:

In PressThink, Jay Rosen brings us former NYT reporter Doug McGill's The Fading Mystique of an Objective Press, an abridged? edited? version of McGill's The End of Objectivity. Go. Read.

Rosen:"One of [McGill's] main points is the press needs to get better in the pattern recognition department:"
... After all, you [journalist] are using a cookie cutter, but they [who you cover] may actually be thinking, and planning, and strategizing. And so they may wreak the very unfairness, imbalance, or partiality that you rationalize your cookie cutter story mold is designed to prevent.
and (McGill):
The uncorrupted ideal of objectivity, in the sense of reporters driving to dig out verified facts and present them fully and fairly, is indispensable in journalism. Unmasking its nefarious twin - an omnipresent and abused pseudo-objectivity - is what I would like to do.

...reaching moral destinations is not at all like reaching geographical ones. It’s a lot tougher to be a good parent, than it is to drive to, and successfully arrive in, Chicago.

Unlike successfully arriving in Chicago, if you are trying to be objective in the true and pure sense, you need to frequently check yourself that you are not rationalizing, not being lazy, not skipping over the tough bits with a high-toned excuse. Whenever you say to yourself as a journalist, "I fell short but at least I tried," you need also to immediately ask, "Am I just rationalizing the fact that I’m sinning over and over and over?"

Ed Cone holds up the mirror for the rest of us, in Don't talk while I'm interrupting:
I'm offering up this guide to modern political speech. It's a bipartisan, multimedia template that works for any point of view on the partisan spectrum, in any venue.
You are not just wrong, you and those like you are intellectually insufficient and morally suspect...

"You just don't understand" author Deborah Tannen in Christian Science Monitor (part of a series) last week with insights on life, the universe, and why our political discourse is so poor - We need higher quality outrage:
When there's a ruckus in the street outside your home, you fling open the window to see what's happening. But if there's a row outside every night, you shut the window and try to block it out. That's what's happening in our public discourse. With all the shouting, we have less, rather than more, genuine opposition - the kind that is the bedrock on which democracy rests.

Agonism grows out of our conviction that opposition is the best, if not the only, path to truth. In this view, the best way to explore an idea is a debate that requires opponents to marshal facts and arguments for one side, and ignore, ridicule, or otherwise undermine facts and arguments that support the other side.
In many European countries, heated political discussions are commonplace and enjoyed; most Americans regard such conversations as unseemly arguments...As a result, we aren't forced to articulate - and therefore examine - the logic of our views, nor are we exposed to the views of those with whom we disagree.

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