23 November 2009

Twenty Years Too Early

Michael Schudson, on the profession of journalism:
Nineteenth-century journalism was certainly concerned that newspapers might not tell the truth. But the nineteenth-century worry was exclusively about intentional shadings of the truth for partisan ends. The concern was about the danger of partisan views. The twentieth century added the danger of partial views, the inevitable selectivity of facts, the inevitable exercise of judgment in interpreting the real world. The nineteenth century worried about journalists’ intentions and what they wanted to do. In the twentieth century, there is an additional concern about journalists’ attentions and what they are able to see and do. In the nineteenth century, there was fear that journalists would not simply record the world but would think about it and promote their own thinking. In the twentieth century there is the new worry that journalists will simply record and will not think, thereby promoting someone else’s thinking, namely that of the government and other powerful interests.

From ‘The Profession of Journalism in the United States’, in Nathan Hatch, ed., The Professions in American History (1988), p. 154.


Post a Comment

<< Home