From one of Andrew Sullivan’s readers, who explains exactly why the notion of perfectly objective, unbiased, opinion-free journalists is a pipe dream that not only never existed but should not exist now — should not even be strived for. It’s long so I’ll paste it below the fold.
The appropriateness of the Weigel’s comments about Drudge aside, I’m much more horrified by the suggestion, on Goldblog and elsewhere, that this is somehow the Washington Post’s fault for hiring journalists who, you know, have opinions about stuff. When will news outlets give up on the charade of neutrality in reporting?
In an era of monopolistic news reporting, if you are the only newspaper in town, or one of three channels on the tube, you are you going to be a lot less concerned with providing a superior product and a lot more concerned with not saying anything that might alienate a member of your captive audience. It’s not important to have the smartest reporters or the sharpest analysis – after all, people are pretty much forced read the news you give them. Instead, it’s just important to have reporters that are careful (or dense) enough to stop thinking about a subject before they risk suggesting that one interpretation of events might be superior to others.
End result: a perverse culture that values manufactured or feigned neutrality above all else, endless “he said/she said” reporting, and a mainstream media that is afraid to actually let its own reporters use their brains.
Thankfully, the internet is ripping the heart out of our mid-20th century media culture. We’re going back to old-old-school reporting, way back to the era of when newspapers had open party affiliations. If I want to learn about an issue, I don’t watch cable news debate theater, designed to ensure both sides go in endless circles. And I certainly don’t read a David Broder column. I go read an honest, intelligent partisan, an Yglesias or Klein or a Frum or a Salam, and then I go read a response from the other side. Even if there isn’t a response, at least I know what I’m getting — I have a sense of the worldview I’m hearing and the assumptions that are going into the argument. I don’t have to worry that the writer is burying some secret conclusion out of sight. Full disclosure beats selective omission, every time.
Good reporting requires honesty, integrity, and analytical rigor. Good reporting is not editorializing. But a good reporter should not be neutral. A good reporter should tell me what he thinks, why he thinks it, and why it’s relevant.
Nails and heads.