SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript"> < We Blog: Good Night and Good Luck

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Good Night and Good Luck

This week's topic about blogging and journalism reminded me of George Clooney's recent film Good Night, and Good Luck. The movie chronicles Edward R. Murrow's 1950's challenge to Senator Joe McCarthy's Communist hearings. Although this film is about that era in American politics and culture, it is relevant to our current debate about media editorializing. At one point, Murrow is discussing his first show regarding McCarthy with one of his producers. The contention of the producer is that Murrow's planned commentary does not portray the facts objectively but is instead a direct editorial on McCarthy's actions. This struck me because we live in the age of the television pundit. Not only are people paid to editorialize, we expect when we turn on FOX or CNN or MSNBC to hear opinion journalism.

Whether or not editorializing is good in the news or not I really have no opinion. There are others in this class that have much more experience with journalism and journalistic ethics, who can expound on this issue. The point is that I never realized the complexity of the debate. Is responsible journalism portraying the facts for the audience to interpret? Or is it challenging the status quo by presenting cohesive arguments for or against a particular issue? Or is it some of both?

To relate this back to blogging, I thought the movie captured a moment in television history that is akin to our present moment in Internet history. Murrow was an established television journalist exploring the possibilities of television to engage its audience intellectually, politically, and socially. His challenge of McCarthy was not based on a pro-communist platform, instead it was focused on the inflamatory rhetoric and scare tactics behind McCarthy that were causing people, journalists included, to exist in fear to the point of self-censure. Murrow posed the questions in his broadcasts and left the answering to his viewers. I think blogging operates in a similar way. Most bloggers do not blog objectively, most present their opinion very clearly. But the medium allows for easy and quick debate over these topics. If the original post offers one viewpoint, when the comments are added in a fuller picture of an issue results. Basically a blog allows what Murrow's broadcasts lacked, a chance for the audience to respond.



At Tue Feb 21, 02:59:00 PM, Blogger alb said...

I think that news media has flocked toward opinion journalism during the past two presidencies in particular. Personally I think there is a niche for that sort of 'reporting', but that news in general should be more objective. More interesting and relavant to your post is what is the place of opinion journalism and what it means. The proliferation of opinion journalism has helped polarize the nation in my opinion. Because news channels have stigma's attached, people respond accordingly for or against what they say. Think Rush Limbaugh- people love or hate him- neutral parties wouldn't go to him for news, though. Blogs are a great way for opinion journalism to challenge the status quo; ask questions even if they're biased; and create conversation. I think news can be and should be unbiased (even though it rarely is anymore) and can still question the status quo through solid reporting. There's room for both, but they should be separate entities.


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