Bloggers & Journalists:

I recently wrote a piece at B5 in response to an article from Harpers, in which I offered an education for journalists into the nature of blogging.

I must admit that today I got something of an education, as a blogger, into the nature of journalism.

Here's my advice: If you do an interview with a journalist, don't expect the journalist to be there to tell your story. The journalist gets paid to tell her own stories which you might or might not be a part of.
I find I honestly don't know quite how to describe my thoughts about that.

I don't want to say that it's treason, because that has political connotations I do not intend. And yet that is exactly, precisely the correct word. It is treason -- not against a political order, or a people, or a country, to be sure.

It is a betrayal, nevertheless, of the thing to which a journalist was supposed to be devoted, to which their loyalty was alleged to belong. For years we have heard their proper loyalty was not to country, but to the reporting of the truth:
Immediately Mike Wallace spoke up. "I think some other reporters would have a different reaction," he said, obviously referring to himself. "They would regard it simply as a story they were there to cover." "I am astonished, really," at Jennings's answer, Wallace saida moment later. He turned toward Jennings and began to lecture him: "You're a reporter. Granted you're an American"-at least for purposes of the fictional example; Jennings has actually retained Canadian citizenship. "I'm a little bit at a loss to understand why, because you're an American, you would not have covered that story." Ogletree pushed Wallace. Didn't Jennings have some higher duty, either patriotic or human, to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot?

"No," Wallace said flatly and immediately. "You don't have a higher duty. No. No. You're a reporter!" Jennings backtracked fast. Wallace was right, he said. "I chickened out." Jennings said that he had gotten so wrapped up in the hypothetical questions that he had lost sight of his journalistic duty to remain detached.
Now comes Ms. Penelope Trunk to assert that she has, and feels no one can or ought to have, any loyalty even to "reporting the truth." It's not about the story they are watching unfold in front of them; it's about the story they brought along with them. A journalist who comes to interview you isn't there to tell your story, she says; she is being paid to tell hers, which you may not be a part of.

To what, then, is a journalist meant to be loyal? It is not country; they have no "higher duty" to country. It is not to the story unfolding in front of them; they cannot be loyal to that, she asserts, and ought not to try to be. It is to their own story, to the story in their head.

They should be loyal, in other words, only to themselves.

This seems right and proper to her.

I don't know how to deal with people like that. It's a shocking admission, or at least, it ought to be.

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