More on Journalism (was RE: FW: [LINK] Open source just as
insecure as Windows)
Sat Nov 16 02:35:10 EST 2002
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Hi Felipe (and all),
I'm sorry but I feel another rant coming on ...
>> "Journalism" encompasses critical thought, evaluation of what
>> one is told, and a presentation that demonstrates both.
>That may be your idealistic view of what journalism is. The reality is
>that journalism comes in many shades of gray. A journalist is a human
>being, like you and me, with his/her own set of values and ideas, and it
>would be foolish to assume that these values are not part of the work
>the journalist produces.
I really get grumpy arsed when I hear or read half baked excuses for
a lack of professionalism. Before I go any further I want to say that
my comments are not necessarily being directed at Karen Dearn (unless
I specifically mention otherwise) but at the argument that
"journalists are just human so they are allowed to write what they
want". This is akin to saying that civil engineers should be allowed
to have a best guess at the load tolerance for bridges or a surgeon
shouldn't be held accountable for mistakes because he or she was just
having a bad day. Either that, or your arguing that journalism has no
professional standards, nor should we, the audience, expect any.
Personally, I strongly disagree with either sentiment - (good)
journalism is a profession, and we should expect professional
standards for research and output. I don't think that it is too much
to ask, nor should the notion be brushed off as some twisted product
of the left wing Linux-loving intelli-mafia.
I do not have enough detailed technical knowledge to make an informed
judgement about the article Karen wrote. I don't even have a
religious affiliation on the whole OS issue either - I've been a
happy Mac user since 1990. What concerned me was how I perceived
Karen's reply to criticism: Basically, "I'm just *reporting* what
this guy said and he convinced me that he was pretty cool, and the
rest of of yous is just pathetic bunch of losers who don't like to be
told that your toy aint cool". True, whenever anybody writes they
bring their subjective experience into the mix. However, I expect
from myself and others a reasoned and measured response to critique -
a response that would clarify and illuminate the point rather than
throw written molatovs and expect that to suffice for an intellectual
defence. My initial instinct when someone does come in "all guns
blazing" is that they are attempting to deflect attention away form
the fact that they are unwilling or unable to provide a reasoned and
informed response, and that is as instructive as anything else.
>> All the more important, then, to present balanced and
>> well-researched work.
>Says who ? A journalist can write whatever he or she damn well pleases,
>as long as the editor of the publication has no problem with the
>content. If a journalist chooses to write work that is not balanced or
>researched, that is the liberty of that journalist. In fact many
>publications thrive on work that is not balanced and researched, and is
>deliberately moderated to please the audience.
True, the "tabliod" format (either in news print or the 6.30
commercial FTA time slot) doesn't suffer from the vagaries of balance
or even of good presentation. However, that is not to say that it is
a model that is good or that is should be replicated. I would argue
that this type of reporting is akin to junk food, and the
intellectual ramifications for a steady diet of it are similar - both
make people flabby and will lead to long term health problems.
Moreover, it is negatively affecting more and more of the population
to the point where we face a serious crisis in the socio-political
health of the nation.
>In case of Karen Dearne there seems to be another problem though. She
>was simply reporting a story, but ran into a bunch of Linux
That may be the case, but to my mind it still doesn't excuse anyone
from their defence of a reduction in the expectations of journalistic
professionalism. Just because you are *reporting* doesn't then excuse
you from presenting an argument or a more detailed position in a
forum that exists to air and evaluate opinions. Just because you are
*reporting* doesn't mean that you should rely on a single source in
your research phase, nor toss out alternative perspectives *just*
because they don't fit with the line you are taking. Again, I am not
implying that Karen did this, merely that it seems that post in her
defence appear to have said that it is OK to be as subjective and
partisan as you like because journalistic professionalism is an
unrealistic expectation to have.
>It is quite offensive to see so many people on this list be bothered to
>attack a journalist for an article that is mildly critical of Linux,
>when we live in a society where our elected officials twist and distort
>the truth on a daily basis. All this energy attacking Karen would be
>much better spent analyzing and criticizing the lies that are routinely
>told by elected government officials.
Are you suggesting that we hold elected government officials to a
higher professional standard than journalists? At any rate, from
lurking on the periphery of LINK for many years my impression is that
the list as a whole is quite vigilant and indeed at time savage on
the statements of Government, regardless of its partisan colours:
Yes, the "bonus" of incumbency is that people are generally unhappy
with whomever is in government, and I do distinctly remember Labor
policies getting just as much a hammering pre 1996 as the list now
doles out to Liberal govt policy. Are you suggesting otherwise?
</here endeth the rant>
School of Politics and Public Policy
(p) +61 7 3875 7738
(f) +61 7 3875 7737
(m) +61 4 1144 2081
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