A rallying call

Brent Cunningham, Columbia Journalism Review’s Managing Editor, argues that the American mainstream media (though this could equally apply to Australia) need to more forcefully deconstruct the country’s myths and in doing so discover a far more complex world than “liberal” or “conservative”:

“It’s time for the press to help broaden the scope of public discourse – not just by sounding an alarm, but by exploring possible solutions beyond those offered by government. By ‘the press’ I mean the mass media – the newspapers and broadcast outlets that cater to a mass audience, and thus have the most influence over what people know about the world beyond their own experiences. While it’s now commonplace to say that the media have become diffuse, most primary journalism is still done by the mainstream media, segments of which strive for intellectual honesty and believe deeply in reporting.

“To make aggressive journalism about the various threats to human society a priority will require a radical reassessment of America’s relation to the world as well as the American press’s definition of news. Last January in an op-ed in The New York Times, Jared Diamond, the author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, explained that among the lessons he gleaned from studying the survival of societies is the need for “a willingness to re-examine long-held core values, when conditions change and those values no longer make sense.” The press alone can’t force this re-examination on the nation, but it could start the conversation.”

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