Getting far in journalism

Medialens, October 25:

“To the extent that a media system accepts that its ”˜professional’ role is to report a news agenda set by officialdom, it must largely renounce the task of challenging that agenda. If the government, for example, rejects as hopelessly flawed a report on civilian casualties in Iraq – if it decides to ”˜move on’, say, from the November 2004 Lancet report – who are professional news journalists to disagree?

“For a news journalist to continue promoting the credibility of the officially rejected report – or the rejected role of oil in motivating foreign policy, or the rejected possibility of Tony Blair’s prosecution for war crimes – is to challenge the accepted right of officialdom to set the agenda for the professional press. It is in fact an attempt to set a competing agenda. This is to lay oneself open to attack as a ”˜biased’, ”˜committed’ and ”˜crusading’ journalist – something professional news reporters are not supposed to be.”

It is difficult to think of one leading Australian journalist – aside from Margo Kingston – who sees journalism as much more than simply “reporting the facts.” Corporate journalism is designed to promote and support those reporters who know their place and role. Don’t ask uncomfortable questions, don’t openly challenge government spin and certainly don’t offer an alternative way of seeing the world.

Medialens – whose first book, Guardians of Power, is released in December – regularly tackles the so-called “liberal” press and its presumptions of openness and fairness. Western journalistic exceptionalism has never had a greater foe.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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