Posts Tagged ‘journalists’

Professional Press vs. Passionate Press

Friday, September 19th, 2008

In a recent post I mused about objectivity in journalism. Yesterday, I got in a ‘comment war’ with a local newspaper reporter about the same topic over at the Reporter.

In the course of the argument I coined a term I don’t think I stole from anyone: the Passionate Press. When I used the term – I was envisioning the masses that have the potential to become ‘the media’ given outlets like the Reporter (and and others).

Right now, though, the term probably best applies to those special folks who report on the world around them because they are driven to – not because they’re paid to. Though they may well be paid for their efforts. This is in contrast to the ‘Professional Press’ that can and will report on anything their editors tell them to. The two are probably not mutually exclusive.

While the Passionate Press would now be primarily bloggers – they have their roots in the pamphleteers of the 19th century – the writers of the Federalist Papers, for example. Today, I think of Erin Kotecki Vest and Dave Winer (and many others) as members of the Passionate Press covering the US election.

It’s tempting to say that the Passionate Press is merely a synonym of ‘the blogosphere’ but I think it is a sub-set with certain characteristics – I’m just not sure what they are.

I’m trying to decide if I’m on to something with this ‘Passionate Press’ thing or if I’m just making up a term for the sake of it.


Is The Press Too Objective?

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

At the Cambridge Reporter meetup on Tuesday, an interesting discussion sprang up about transparency of media bias.

Here’s what I said, more or less:

No-one is truly objective. I’d rather know where my media talking heads are coming from than to try to decipher disingenuous attempts at sounding un-biased. In other words, journalists should wear their opinions, political and otherwise, on their sleeves in the interest of transparency and fairness. I also said that I’d rather have Bill O’Reilly anchor the nightly news on Fox and Keith Olbermann anchor the news on NBC because at least then I know how much salt to apply and where. Williams, Kouric, etc, have zero credibility for me because I don’t know where they stand.

In the Canadian context, there are no O’Reillys or Olbermanns that I’m aware of because even our commentators bend over backwards to apply criticism evenly. Rex Murphy would be so much more credible, for example, if he was open about his true opinion – not to mention Peter Mansbridge and Lloyd Robertson.

When I watch Steve Paikin on The Agenda with reps from each party – I constantly wonder – who’s he secretly rooting for here? Because he is – he’s human.

Why is it that Jon Stewart is increasingly becoming the primary source of political news for my demographic? Part of it is his humour to be sure – but part of it also is that he’s not afraid to let his guests and his audiences know where he’s coming from. He’s not bound by archaic and deceptive ‘code of journalism’ that expects the press to pretend they are doing the impossible – be objective.

I remember watching the 1995 Quebec Referendum through the national media because, though a Montrealer by birth, I had since moved to central Ontario. I distinctly remember watching Quebecois journalists on CBC and CTV reporting on the campaigns in their diluted, objective way and screaming at them in my head to “Please just tell me what you think! I’m not there – you are!”

Chantal Hebert is well respected journalist in Quebec – but I can’t trust a single thing she says about the Bloc Quebecois because I have no idea where she stands on the sovereignty issue. I’ve heard her both praise and criticize the BQ on tactics but those are delivered through a Quebecoise filter that either agrees or disagrees with the Bloc in principle. So which is it? Are they right or wrong? I can’t trust you, Chantal, if I don’t know you.

So that was a little more than what I said the other night, but you get the idea.

My question to you, then, is this:

Should we allow and encourage the members of the press to shed their artificial objectivity in the interest of transparency and full reporting?