Copa Mundial 2k10 kicked off today in grand fashion, with host South Africa taking a point off of heavily favored Mexico. Tomorrow’s featured match (featured here, anyway) sees the US taking on an even more heavily favored England side that, despite having some of the best talent on the planet, has been lackluster in its pre-Cup tuneups. Of course, the US has been inconsistent, as well – looked good beating Turkey, vulnerable in the back in a loss to the Czechs, and absolutely terrible in an inexplicable win over the Aussies (who played like they were winding up a three-day bender). So grab a beer and we’ll see which teams show up. Continue reading
That’s the credo my newsroom presented to me, the young cub, four decades ago. But it did not require much time for me to realize that objectivity was merely an ideal, a sales pitch that proclaimed “we are professional and unbiased; thus believe us.” As the Grey Lady claims, it does its job “without fear or favor”: no bias affects the content of stories – or the selection of the stories themselves.
Well, as we see now, that’s bullshit. Journalism is entirely a subjective enterprise. Editors assign stories. Reporters select sources. Reporters select the questions for the sources. Reporters decide on the structure of the story: Does one point of view make the lede, or does the other? Editors edit the stories. Changes in structure are made, altering the reporter’s judgment. Journalism is judgment, and that involves heavy doses of subjectivity.
Yet I and hundreds of journalism professors continue to stride about our classrooms explaining and demanding objectivity from our students (who are living online quite subjectively and for the most part not doing it very well).
Well, that total obeisance to objectivity ought to end. We must ask: Do journalism faculty have a limited view of what journalism is — or how it has mutated in the age of the Internet?
George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, is the definitive fictional postulation of an absolute authoritarian society. Citizens exist for the justification of the state, have no status as individuals, and are subject to propaganda which can rewrite history.
In Orwell’s dystopian world, privacy is non-existent. “Telescreens” are omnipresent as “Big Brother” watches one’s every move. The disinformation is profound and all-pervasive.
To anesthetize the populace whose status is hardly better than concentration camp dwellers, the State provides “Victory Gin.” Citizens, at least in the “outer party,” have some dim awareness of their situation, but in fear of Big Brother, they acquiesce. Continue reading