Ed Driscoll

Open Source Media

Found via Jeff Jarvis, Rebecca MacKinnon has harsh words for Columbia Journalism’s Nick Lemann’s recent New Yorker essay:

I can’t read his mind and I haven’t asked him, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Lemann has been feeling somewhat on the defensive lately – and somewhat in need of explaining to students why they should fork out what amounts to a year’s salary for many people in order to get a journalism degree. With this context, Lemann’s choice of focus makes more sense, but it also makes me wonder why he chose to avoid addressing the objectivity debate in his New Yorker piece, choosing instead to focus on the comparative quality of amateur vs. professional reporting. In my observation, the most popular bloggers are valued less for the quality of their reporting (when they even do any original reporting) but rather for their authenticity of voice and openness about their political views: when you read Glenn Reynolds, he makes it very clear that he falls somewhere on the libertarian side of right wing. When you read Nick Lemann, you can only guess at his politics as Chris Nolan does, and he won’t answer questions if you ask him in person. Which then leaves him and much of the journalistic profession open to all kinds of accusations of hidden political bias and dishonesty. Which in turn leads to a call from the more angry corners of the blogosphere for a reformation. This loss of public faith in American journalism’s claim to objectivity – and the question of what should be done about it – is the real story in my view. If people don’t trust you, it doesn’t matter how impeccable your reporting is, does it? That’s what’s happening today – the good work of many excellent journalists is being unfairly dismissed as biased by many Americans because of this loss of trust. What should journalism as a profession do about it? Tell those who don’t trust in our professionalism that they’re ignorant fundamentalist rednecks and if they were smarter they’d realize we’re really great reporters after all who really do deserve all those Pulitzers and Peabodys? Hmmm.. great idea… I’m sure that will work…

Well, it would be right in line with those reporters who suggested immediately after November of 2004 that foreign correspondents be dispatched to the red states. Along with those journalists who actually made the trek and reported from, say, Alabama or Texas sounding much like Marlin Perkins air-dropped into the Wild Kingdom.