Should journalists donate time and money to causes? It’s a question posed by Judith Smelser. Start by thinking about two other questions: How do you define professional conduct and how do you define your own priorities.
A professional journalist isn’t asked to be a monk or a high priest. She’s asked to conduct herself in a thorough manner to reveal the truth in the fairest way possible given the constraints of time and access. The journalist must pay homage to the idea that each topic has not two sides, but many sides… and allow them all to flourish in reporting. She must apply a forensic scientists zeal to seeking out facts that illuminate. The idea that journalists must remove themselves from being a part of the living doesn’t factor into this equation.
That leads to the second question. If your ethos demands that you are part of a community, then you ought to live the way your heart demands. If you believe that you don’t live to work…. then you orient yourself as befits someone who is part of the world.
Don’t get me wrong, many in journalism believe that hewing to something called “objectivity” means never doing or saying anything that might show you have positions or thoughts or beliefs. Jim Lehrer has said he doesn’t vote because that might somehow betray an objectivity that must lie at the heart of who he is. But perhaps the fairness and professionalism of a journalist ought to lie in the product of his work. Maybe the idea of being fair ought to derive from the openness of the reporter and the fairness of that person’s reporting process. In a way, maintaining a public neutrality is far easier than making sure the work you do is fair to the truth. The former feels a bit like public relations, while the latter is product of … a professional.
~John Dickerson, from his excellent piece in Slate on returning to full-time parenting after 16 months on the campaign trail.
As a father of two boys, now seven and five, this passage I know to be true in the most inhumane way. It’s the beauty and joy and heartbreak of raising these magnificent, free-thinking little creatures who are more amazing than I’ll ever be.
Thanks to the ubiquity of the Internet, I heard actress Jodie Foster’s speech accepting an award at the Golden Globes last weekend without having to actually see the Golden Globes. Tweets let me to the speech that some called rambling.
Foster spoke about her life (befitting the receipt of a lifetime achievement award) and touched on a number of subjects, including some very personal ones. For instance, Foster talked in a halting way about her sexual lifestyle.
She also talked about privacy. Foster grew up under the spotlight, having been a child actress who has now worked 47 of her 50 years subjected to movie publicity apparatus. Because of this, she said she had to fight for the right to remain private and learned to cherish that privacy.
“Someday in the future, people may look back and remember how beautiful it once was,” she said.
Maybe that time is here, thanks to the tools of the web. Maybe we’re all Jodie Foster now.
We willingly put up on our Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr pages a chronicle of our lives … photos and thoughts once left for scrapbooks and journals. We leave a public record for all to see. One day it is your friends, the next day it could be thousands who want to know about you because you’re in the center of some news event. The 15 minutes never had so much to work with.
And we don’t know what to make of it. The recent posting of gun permits by my hometown Journal News newspaper reveals what we can reveal, and seemed to provoke outrage among many. And yet so much more has become public due to technology and our willingness to gobble it up. We don’t even know what to be outraged by (I’d go on - buy the New York Times’ Bill Keller does a much better job).
As a journalist myself, I want to say that we’re a new and more open society, and make that sound like a good thing. Yet we also must realize that powerful forces, ones who might want to control the desires and actions of people, even just a little bit, can also manipulate this new information spewing machine. Is this a good?
We can broadcast ourselves now. We need to understand that what we broadcast is now our choice and accept that what goes public no longer remains just ours. We must make our choice to expose ourselves via technology without fear or to, as Jodie Foster put it, fight to remain private.
And the next battleground might be what the powerful forces can broadcast about you without your knowledge.
Patience requires strength and, often, the support of those we rely on. Reach out for that support.
So where will beauty strike you? Will you notice it when it does? How often do you let the scenery glide by without noticing? Make a point not to let that happen today.
The terror… not of the dentist’s office itself, but of what the dentist will tell you.
There is no more serene look then a dog that’s found a place to rest her weary head.