I leave you this fine evening with a review essay by Russell Baker. Note that I said “fine evening” and not “fine review essay.” Baker’s diagnosis of journalism’s ailment is laughable. He thinks journalism is in a bad way because journalists are not hard enough on the powers that be. Ha! It’s in a bad way because journalists, at about the time of Watergate, stopped informing and started directing. It took a while, but ordinary people finally caught on. Remember Keith’s Law: Authoritativeness is inversely proportional to partisanship. The good news for journalism is that all is not lost. If journalists reverse course and start informing rather than directing, they’ll regain their authority. What do I mean by “informing” and “directing”? I mean using language to tell people how things are rather than how they should be. I mean getting their words to match the world rather than getting the world to match their words. I mean being disinterested rather than interested. I mean not interjecting opinions in news stories. I mean being forthright rather than manipulative. I mean being a reporter and not an advocate. I mean being an observer and not a participant.
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