My stomach churns when I read newspaper articles like this one, where the NYT continues its never-ending slide into squirrelly neutrality. Theyâ€™re so obsessed with putting up a detached, professional front when theyâ€™re players in the political game, too. The end result is the default â€œPaid for by the RNCâ€ sticker, which they never bother to attach.
Câ€™mon. Either donâ€™t bother reporting on what amounts to knee-jerk spin-doctoring, or properly paint Bush and the GOP as shallow opportunists that enjoy taking credit for â€œgood newsâ€ that theyâ€™re not even remotely responsible for. Both options have more journalistic spine than this articleâ€™s lofty hand-wringing, which shamelessly front-loads the Republican position and basically hands them a free breather without having to work for it.
Iâ€™ve never trusted newspapers much by themselves (and especially the NYT, ever since they used Chalabi as a source for WMD info) Something resembling truth only emerges after reading many different takes on the same subject, which is the reason I like Google News.
But I think my disillusionment really stems from politics always coming down to â€œpolitics,â€ rather than useful, constructive debate or the execution of careful, thoughtful planning. I used to be fascinated by all the mudslinging, the candidate handling, the canned speeches and the widespread hypocrisy that makes up American politics.
I guess Iâ€™m not as easily entertained anymore, and my concept of rhetoric as a neutral tool has lead to dark thoughts. Do the writers and editors at the NYT know what their precious objectivity costs at the end of the day? Probably so, which makes the entire arrangement even worse.
Am I saying the old wall between the editorals and the news should just be torn down already? I donâ€™t know. The web has certainly given advocacy journalism a boost in the last 5 or 6 years, showing that a concerned citizen with a blog can make a difference, and that one can â€œserve the public interestâ€ without having to be neutral.
Perhaps newspapers still hold on because of the false comfort zone that being a â€œpaper of recordâ€ creates. I personally think all journalists should feel free to advocate and editoralize. It might not improve reporting much, but it would at least demolish the facade of objectivity. Then again, if papers lose their â€œauthorityâ€â€¦ but thatâ€™s something that I, at least, donâ€™t see them as currently possessing.