30 June 2013

Greenwald & the "Journalists"

"You can be a journalist who is an advocate and advances a political point of view. Or one who remains politically agnostic. Both are legitimate. But what really matters is the information that enters the public sphere, its validity, how it is presented, and any debate it provokes. Not who put it there in the first place, or even why they did it."
My friend Michael Shaw forwarded a link to this smart commentary by John McQuiad at Forbes (of all places) on the more or less hysterical reaction in the mainstream press to Glenn Greenwald's role in breaking the NSA surveillance story.  The commentary is mis-titled "Why Glenn Greenwald Drives the Media Crazy." McQuaid actually does not do more than document that Greenwald does drive them nuts. He never gets around to telling us "why."

My take is that most journalists in the U.S. play the role of stenographer to talking heads from (mostly center-to-right wing) "intellectuals," business mouthpieces, and government officials. And if that is what it means to be a journalist, then Greenwald surely is not one. But, that is hardly a defensible conception of "journalist." In any case, the conclusion to the piece (quoted at the top) is just right. The enterprise of policing the boundaries of journalism is a sideshow. The mainstream media ought to be concerned less with professing to report news from some fantasy world of detachment and objectivity and more with figuring out what is going on in the world and letting the rest of us know. The story here is about widespread, secret government surveillance of regular citizens.

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