Saturday, June 29, 2013

Taibbi: All journalists are 'advocacy journalists'

Yes, yes, yes!  Taibbi makes a great point about "objective" journalists, in the context of Glenn Greenwald's scoops on the NSA domestic spying story [emphasis mine]:

... because all reporters are advocates. If we're only talking about people like Glenn Greenwald, who are open about their advocacy, that's a crazy thing to say. People should be skeptical of everything they read. In fact, people should be more skeptical of reporters who claim not to be advocates, because those people are almost always lying, whether they know it or not.

[...] That's what makes this new debate about Greenwald and advocacy journalism so insidious. Journalists of all kinds have long enjoyed certain legal protections, and those protections are essential to a functioning free press. The easiest way around those protections is simply to declare some people "not journalists." Ten years ago, I would have thought the idea is crazy, but now any journalist would be nuts not to worry about it. Who are these people to decide who's a journalist and who isn't? Is there anything more obnoxious than a priesthood?

Journalists are supposed to be fair, not objective.  "Objectivity" is impossible, so let's not set the bar there.  I would much rather have a journalist be honest with me about his convictions (aka biases), then I can filter his reporting as I like, instead of looking for his "hidden" messages.  

This is similar, yet also unrelated, to my personal practice of prefacing any discussion of politics with strangers with, "I'm a big lefty liberal who voted for Obama twice."  Why do I do that?  Because why not?  It's the truth, and I have nothing to hide.  Surprisingly, things go much better after that.  At least my interlocutor knows where I'm coming from.  Then it's all about the merit or weight of my arguments.  Plus people just appreciate honesty.  People are funny that way.  

By Matt Taibbi
June 27, 2013 | Rolling Stone

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