HOT BLAST: A debate over the role of journalists
Oct 28, 2013 | 1335 views |  0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Demonstrators protest outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington during a rally to demand that Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs, which were recently revealed through reporting by Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian newspaper. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Demonstrators protest outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington during a rally to demand that Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs, which were recently revealed through reporting by Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian newspaper. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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The New York Times features and interesting (and very lengthy) exchange between Glenn Greenwald and Bill Keller. Greenwald is an attorney/journalist most famous for delivering Edward Snowden's NSA secrets to the world. Keller is a columnist and former executive editor for The Times.

Their debate centers on the role and current state of journalism. The entire piece is worthy of attention. We'll allow each man to make a small bit of their case below:


GLENN GREENWALD:



A journalist who is petrified of appearing to express any opinions will often steer clear of declarative sentences about what is true, opting instead for a cowardly and unhelpful “here’s-what-both-sides-say-and-I-won’t-resolve-the-conflicts” formulation. That rewards dishonesty on the part of political and corporate officials who know they can rely on “objective” reporters to amplify their falsehoods without challenge (i.e., reporting is reduced to “X says Y” rather than “X says Y and that’s false”).


Worse still, this suffocating constraint on how reporters are permitted to express themselves produces a self-neutering form of journalism that becomes as ineffectual as it is boring. A failure to call torture “torture” because government officials demand that a more pleasant euphemism be used, or lazily equating a demonstrably true assertion with a demonstrably false one, drains journalism of its passion, vibrancy, vitality and soul.

BILL KELLER

Like any endeavor run by human beings, ours is imperfect, and sometimes we disappoint. Critics on the left, including you, were indignant to learn that we held the N.S.A. eavesdropping story for more than a year, until I was satisfied that the public interest outweighed any potential damage to national security. Critics on the right were even more furious when, in 2005, we published. Honorable people may disagree with such decisions, to publish or not to publish. But those judgments were the result of long, hard and independent calculation, a weighing of risks and responsibilities, not “fealty to the U.S. government.” 
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