2014-12-19

Wake-Up Call for Journalism

Thanks to Amanda Bennett, author of a very necessary essay today in the Washington Post.

The essay’s immediate purpose is to call for the resignation of an editor at Rolling Stone in the wake of the recent journalistic disaster there. More importantly, though, it urges journalists everywhere to remember who they are and where their priorities lie.

Ms Bennett reminds her colleagues that their first loyalty is to facts. Not narrative. Always.

The urge to tell readers what to think, rather than to present facts from which readers may draw their own conclusions, increasingly indulged today even at outlets like New York Times and Guardian (not to mention Rolling Stone) from which everyone expects better. Ms Bennett observes that the urge to go the full unprofessional is especially strong when journalists are convinced they have right on their side. Stories are seen as useful or not first; their ability to convey what really happens becomes a secondary concern behind the need for a narrative. Against the demand of standards there is no happier excuse, it appears, than the righteous cause.

Ms Bennett warns her colleagues of the dangers of operating this way. I refer readers to her essay. Let us hope the profession takes note.

Facts first.

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