Thursday, February 24, 2005

This was something that almost worked itself into an earlier entry, but I didn't know where to go with it. I need to work this out.

Hunter S. Thompson is dead. This says many things about journalism, politics, and America. None of which I'm going to discuss, although I could.

But: I read Thompson's obituary for Nixon tonight, and I was reminded of something that applies today: Objective journalism doesn't get the job done.

Here's the quote: "Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism--which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful. "

This applies to George W. Bush and the fact that he was elected. And of course I would say that. But I mean fuck. There's a reason The Daily Show seems more accurate, despite Jon Stewart seeming like he simply actively wishes for more objective news reporting. Or something. I really don't even know what Jon Stewart wants. I know he thinks of the cable news punditry as something of a debacle, and you know, he's right.


What's the problem there? Is it the lack of intelligence? The inclination to be partisan hacks? That these people aren't shouting at the people in power so much as they're shouting at one another? Because the issue isn't that they're shouting.

Journalism should be less objective, because, in addition to the flaws Thompson cites, objectivity is inherently a lie. My friend Jason's ditched his journalism major for just this reason. (Jason, if you're reading this: Fucking scriptwriting? Fucking scriptwriting? No. If you'd met my roommate who writes screenplays this would be more clear, but fuck all that, the most importan thing is that film/video production means you can do it yourself. You don't need anyone to tell you how to fucking write, you need someone to tell you how to use the tools.)

But yes, I want to work this out. Maybe it's that the place for objective journalism is on TV, but the written word should allow for voices? (BTW, I think this would end up saving newspapers from low sales.) Right now it's the other way around. To see newspapers becoming more voice-oriented would in many ways just be mirroring cable news at this point, and that's an abyss that should not be gazed into. If the voice was a liberal one, that would be something of an alternative. The thing is with newspapers is that in the world I want to live in, the articles are very long. Long articles are hard to shit out overnight.

But no: I want to work this out. I want to fix journalism. I want to know what it is exactly that it should be. (In more ways than simply thinking it should be more informative. There's an easy solution there: Read The Guardian. Did you know the U.S. is creating ads for Pakistani television awarding money to those who catch Bin Laden and his cronies? Because I didn't. Until I read it in The Guardian. The Guardian also had a great Thompson obituary by Ralph Steadman, for those who enjoy reading such things.)

Also what the world needs now is more combative interviews with people in power. Actual combative interviews. No interruptions mid-answer to yell things, but a "You didn't answer the question" after they're done speaking wouldn't be inappropriate. These come off well in print too.

I want it worked out to the point where there's an actual solution and then I want that solution to happen. Come on you fuckers. Some of you are smart.

I've got plans for things that are hatching like eggs in my brain as I type this but I really don't want the fruit of all my bluster to just end up as a zine.

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