Monday, August 8

The News Market

Peter Jennings died yesterday at age 67 from lung cancer. Although he reported for ABC for over four decades, he was truly a reporter for the American people. He understood the importance of objective journalism, that telling a story could never replace telling the truth.

...my dad was part of the pioneers of public broadcasting in Canada. And he always told me the most important thing you can be in your career is fair...I feel sorry for the consumer, for the news consumer. Important thing we need to tell folks all the time is what they're getting -- it's hard...I think as long as we keep telling consumers that there are many strains of journalism in the country. On the left, on the right, on the top, on the bottom. People who don't take the -- what, where, for, why's as some of us were trained to do. That's fine, as long as people know what they getting, we're very lucky. We live in place where freedom of choice is essential to the way of life.
-Interview with Peter Jennings, Larry King Live, April 1, 2004

He was one of a small handful of journalists who knew that reporting a story to the American people was, in fact, educating a nation. They understood that Freedom of the Press was granted not just as a right but as a responsibility upon all news reporters and journalists to support the essence of a democracy--the people.

As one of the most traveled and well-read journalists, Jennings also had a keen perception of the grim consequences that could result if the American people were not informed accurately. And at times, it almost would seem that he foresaw some of the very events he was reporting. It is this kind of foresight that has gone out of style, that no longer sells to the American news "consumers."

As consumers, we are, by definition, feeding on others in some way or other. This may not surprise anyone at all. It shouldn't. But as news consumers, we are compromising much more (yes, it's possible). We are seeking the right to choose--to choose network X's version of the truth, journalist Y's style, blogger Z's perception, or the whole truth. Perhaps this is one of the idiosyncrasies of the American democracy--that we can choose. Perhaps it is foolish that blinded by freedom, we allow ourselves to start drawing parallels to truth. You choose.

And in case you're as confused as I am, just watch C-SPAN.

1 comment:

Omar said...

Congrats on the new blog!

I'm really sad about Peter Jennings. He really seemed like one of the last genuine, honest reporters. He'll be missed.