The “Trust me, I’m a reporter” line would probably always have raised a laugh, and still would in many quarters… Jump forward the decades to the polementaries and the moral force of the reporter now fills the screen.
The place of journalists as central ethical narrators is being insisted on – both from the right, with the attempted destruction by talkshow hosts such as Rush Limbaugh of enemies on moral grounds; and on the left with an assault on the Bush administration led by (Michael) Moore.
“Fahrenheit 9/11,” according to a report the New York Times last week, “is spawning spin-offs all over the map.” Journalism that insists on balance, complexity and objectivity is now itself under attack by moral force journalists for pusillanimity and ofr bieng in cahoots with power.
“truth exists – the best available version of the truth exists… the commitment to fairness and accuracy and context has to be the guiding principle.” Within these words is a warning: that the new moral sherriff in town is as likely to misread the evidence, suspect the innocent and make wrongful arrest as the old one. But he’s got a lot more firepower behind him.
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