November 23, 2005
In a previous article, I described many of the external pressures besetting journalists today, including a hostile White House, aggressive conservative critics, and greedy corporate owners. Here, I will concentrate on the press's internal problems—not on its many ethical and professional lapses, which have been extensively discussed elsewhere, but rather on the structural problems that keep the press from fulfilling its responsibilities to serve as a witness to injustice and a watchdog over the powerful. To some extent, these problems consist of professional practices and proclivities that inhibit reporting —a reliance on "access," an excessive striving for "balance," an uncritical fascination with celebrities. Equally important is the increasing isolation of much of the profession from disadvantaged Americans and the difficulties they face. Finally, and most significantly, there's the political climate in which journalists work. Today's political pressures too often breed in journalists a tendency toward self-censorship, toward shying away from the pursuit of truths that might prove unpopular, whether with official authorities or the public.
Michael Massing on 'the press' in the New York Review of Books.
Posted by Morgan Meis at 11:24 AM | Permalink
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