« Moving to Hong Kong in January! | Main | links for 2006-08-04 »

August 04, 2006



First of all, congrats on the UHK position.

Secondly, another important point regarding the current relationship between journalism and blogging (and related to your Global Voices work) concerns the reliance of journalists on blogs for foreign language material, as discussed, for instance, in this (paywall protected) June 18th Robert Worth article for the Times, which suggests that "Journalists in Iraq are far too busy with the perils of on-the-ground reporting to sit at screens for hours browsing for terrorist Internet traffic."

Jon Garfunkel

"That's what's happening today - the good work of many excellent journalists is being unfairly dismissed as biased by many Americans because of this loss of trust."

Really? Is that all because Nicholas Lemann didn't reveal who he voted for? Or might some responsibility lie with talk radio noisemakers who regularly accuse war correspondents of treason, and who have no qualms about finding fault with the media for any catastrophe? (Hewitt told Jay Rosen that reporters "ended up killing hundreds of Americans" by not warning enough people about Katrina.)

Somehow you see an "ongoing feud" between Lemann and Hewitt. Somehow I figure that Lemann (or many of us here in objective reality) wouldn't notice if Hugh Hewitt vanished tomorrow.

But a million of his listeners would. Three hours a weekday, seventy markets, one million listeners. There's not a whole lot of individuals with bigger megaphones than that. As Michael Massing demonstrated last December, you can't write an article investigating The End of News?: without considering the machinations of:

"a disciplined and well-organized news and opinion campaign directed by conservatives and the Christian right. This well-funded network includes newsletters, think tanks, and talk radio as well as cable television news and the Internet. Often in cooperation with the White House, these outlets have launched a systematic campaign to discredit what they refer to disparagingly as 'MSM,' for mainstream media. Through the Internet, commentators can channel criticism of the press to the general public faster and more efficiently than before."

Listen, I'm all for more transparecy. As the Times no doubt seeks a diverse workforce, they have it all in a database, wouldn't it be neat to display on a map where their reporters all come from? Would brief reporter biographies hurt? But would at all please the wingnut hacks who wish to destroy the structures of objective understanding upon which our free society is based? Probably not.

Alex  K.  Au

the responsibility of journalists, no matter they be professional in big/small media or tyro on blogs should be to reveal truth, among other things
journalism should be independent upon any social, religious, political and economic parties' interest
however, in most cases reality (or events) review to us otherwise
if one finds out someone is hiding something away from the public
then one ought to discover what have been covered
the debatable issue should actually be "blogging vs pseudo-journalism"
and this is what Lemann was trying to hide himself away from


I also agree that any discussion that pits the "amateur" blogger against the "professional" journalist completely misses the point. I love to write about Hong Kong but I rely heavily on news stories by professional journalists for information. Then of course I add my own spin, and I think a certain symbiosis will be reached in the future, whereby news an information will flow freely between amateurs and professionals.

Witness, for instance, the amount of Youtube postings by US soldiers in Iraq, without any filters or angles from reporters. But those same soldiers still watch CNN...

Jon Lebkowsky

"the responsibility of journalists, no matter they be professional in big/small media or tyro on blogs should be to reveal truth, among other things"

I'd settle for journalists who don't conceal this "truth," however you want to define it. But experience tells me that there is not objective truth that is the same for all people and all contexts, so the concept of 'journalistic objectivity' is based, I would say, on a fallacious assumption.


Correction: "there is not objective truth that is the same for all people and all contexts" - should say "there is no objective truth..."

Jon Garfunkel

But the attack on objectivity is a fraud-- it's perpetuated by folks like Hewitt who want to discredit the traditional media. But it's not too hard to catch them circling back to demands for objectivity.

Consider the expose today about the apparent digital retouching of Beirut photographs by Reuters correspondent Adnan Hajj (the smoke above Beirut shows signs of being cloned). Skeptics are questioning the photographer's loyalties, but do you really think that they (or any of us) would be satisfied if Reuters just put a disclaimer after this name about who he voted for in the Lebanese election?

The "at least we know where he stands" line is, frankly, horseshit. It sure seems to me that even the press critics on the right seek an objective reality in news photographs.


John, please tell me you understand the difference between bias & spin in reporting and deliberately manipulating a photograph to show something that isn't real.

Bias and spin is about presenting facts but casting them in a certain light which emphasizes some facts at the expense of others. This happens all the time -- and in fact it is probably impossible for any human being to avoid doing it to some degree. "Knowing where someone stands" in this respect helps the reader to filter out a slant (sometimes a slant the reporter may not even be consciously aware of).

Manipulating a photograph, John, is outright fraud in reporting. It's telling a lie. I think we can all agree that outright fraud in reporting is a bad thing. Or is that "horseshit" too, John?

Jon Garfunkel

Ok, I got carried away, since that was an example of the day. Yes, there is a difference between the two, just as there is a difference between typing something and saying it spontaneously, as the former implies forethought.

Objectivity and accuracy are both sought in the service of truth. Sacrificing one often leads to undermining the other. Those demanding the retraction of the photograph are, in effect, demanding that Reuters strive for objectivity in its strings. Curiously, at the "BloJo" conference Rebecca spoke of, many of the citizen media advocates pressed for more foreign bews bureaus to use more "local people" to take photos and report. (Rebecca adroitly had parried that point by explaining that the purpose of a foreign bureau is to frame it for the home audience). But critics of Reuters have now soured on the whole notion of the idea of citizen-strings whose biases slant the wrong way.

Does Lemann's reporting have a slant? Who he votes for, as Hewitt and Nolan desire to learn, is less important than what is actually pertinent to the article. The article is on the press. And we know where he stands-- or rather sits-- as the Dean of Columbia Journalism School. There. We've outed him.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Global Voices

  • Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

  • Donate to Global Voices - Help us spread the word
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2004


My book:

Consent of the Networked
Coming January 31st, 2012, from Basic Books. To pre-order click here.
AddThis Feed Button