Take A Stand Away From The View From Nowhere

>> Wednesday, September 30, 2009

For the press to lead that discussion will require that it make a form of dissent more central to its mission. Not the tedious dissent of partisan rhetoric, but rather dissent in the sense of refusing to accept that the range of possible solutions to the nation’s problems must necessarily come from the centers of power and influence—the White House, Congress, the think tanks, corporate America. As we have seen time and again—on issues like campaign finance, health care, agricultural policy, and social welfare—these institutions are too wedded to the status quo to lead a discussion that is broad and fearless enough to challenge the systems and assumptions that shape America’s politics, its economics, and its civic and social life.

Such a mission would mean radically realigning a newsroom’s resources and priorities toward the goal of broadening the discourse on important issues—even if it required narrowing the scope of what it covers. The press would have to pay less attention, for instance, to breaking, event-driven news and more to sustained coverage of ideas and—crucially—solutions. It would have to stop reflexively marginalizing ideas and voices that come from the fringes simply because no one “official” is embracing them. It would have to rekindle the notion that journalism is not just a check on power, but, when necessary, its adversary. It would have to crusade for some things, and denounce others. News outlets would have to explain themselves and their decisions, and be clear about what they stand for and what they stand against.

In short, they would need to convince the public, by words and deeds, that they are on its side.
Brent Cunningham, Columbia Journalism Review, "Take a Stand: How Journalism Can Regain Its Relevance."


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