The motto of the American morning daily newspaper The New York Times, as echoed every morning on its front page, is:
“All the news that’s fit to print”.
One could wonder what news is really fit to be printed or even told around. That is also a question that I ask myself for choosing to talk or write about something on this or on another website of mine.
Established in 1851, the penny paper that would avoid sensationalism and report the news in a restrained and objective fashion, managed to build a strong and very good reputation. Near the end of the 19th century reporting of the news of the day, maintained and emphasised existing good coverage of international news, eliminated fiction from the paper.
It was one of the first newspapers that dared to stick out its neck bringing into light that what politicians preferred to stay hidden. There had already been some controversy about the Vietnam War, but back in 1971 the Times became the centre of controversy when it published a series of reports based on the “Pentagon Papers,” a secret government study of U.S. involvement in that protracted conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam and its allies in South Vietnam, known as the Viet Cong, against the government of South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The war which was also part of a larger regional conflict (see Indochina wars) and a manifestation of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, had brought many youngsters all over the states and Europe onto the streets demanding to stop that criminal act of continuous killing.
The battle between the reporters of the morning daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post, the dominant newspaper in the U.S. capital and usually counted as one of the greatest newspapers in that country, got a lot of interest of the New York Times because of its publishing excerpts of a top-secret U.S. Department of Defense report, later released in book form as The Pentagon Papers (1971), which disclosed the history of U.S. involvement in Indochina from World War II until 1968, including its role in the Vietnam War.
Those two national papers found it much more important, to tell the truth and to inform the public about what was really going on instead of wiping the politicians their sleeves and speaking to their mouths.
Today that is still what we would expect from national newspapers and magazines, though the last forty years we have seen that paparazzi, tabloid newspapers and leisure magazines got more in favour by a lot of people, the same as their interest on the internet which went more to ridiculous news facts and videos of unhappy events or accidents.
At present though, the publication’s operating principle of many papers and magzines is
“we printed it, so now it’s news”.
Getting a write-up in The Times means the polite echelons of society —no matter how long-running, trite, or even scandalous the topic — can now discuss said thing openly.
It is good to notice such papers like the New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Independent, The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, De Standaard, De Morgen, NRC Handelblad, Algemeen Dagblad, De Volkskrant, Het Reformatorisch Dagblad, Le Soir, Le Monde, Le Figaro, L’Humanité, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Welt, are doing their best to appear credible with in-depth serious journalism.
Though we could notice in several newspapers and television journals that there has been a tendency by some other papers and newsgroups to line up with extreme right-wing administrations that show little regard for human rights, following in the footsteps of Donald Trump in the US, Modi in India and Bolsonaro in Brazil.
We should look at those matters very carefully and be very well aware that this tendency and aim for popularity is a threat to us all when our rights are curtailed. Now is the time to stand up for our core values of human rights and civil liberties and against those political parties who with their populism win more and more attention from the public and get their fake news more spread by means of social media like Facebook. Some government’s divisive, dangerous reactionary political agenda and attempts to follow Trump into stoking up a ‘culture war’ should be for those who love the truth, a sign to warn others of the dangers and for risking situations we have seen in the 1930s and 1940s.
Let us also keep in mind what Karl Marx famously declared, namely that
‘the ruling ideas of every age are the ideas of the ruling class.’
Those who control ‘material production’, Marx went on, have the money and the power to control ‘mental production’ too: to shape how we think about the world.
It is up to independent papers to present a mix of political views to show their independence or when they have a preference or political choice they still have to be so honest to review all views with an honest magnifying glass. All those who want to do honest journalism should always investigate the subject they are writing about. They should never let themselves fall into the hands of manipulative politicians.
We should be aware that today the pretence of neutrality in the media serves only to disguise the politics that companies represent – and, increasingly, to police the opinions of young journalists who want to hold power to account.
As a counter-movement, we, therefore, see several independent writers or freelance columnists, on the internet either publishing their own blog or cooperating with others to offer an opinion blog to internet readers. Those writers do not mind taking a lot of time to get to know more about the subject they want to write about. They love to immerse themselves in their subjects, at times spending months in the field gathering facts through research, interviews, and observation, before coming to final conclusions and offering their paper to a journal or magazine, in the hope they’ll publish it.
In the past, we could find that even when their writing style, and the time and money that their in-depth research and long stories had required, did not fit the needs or budgets of most newspapers, the New York Herald Tribune, Esquire, and The New Yorker, for example, were not afraid to present such in-depth articles to their readers and published their work with great commercial success. Many of those writers went on to publish their stories in anthologies or to write what became known as “nonfiction novels,” and many of those works became bestsellers. That tradition should still continue, and we should stimulate young journalists to dare to go in that direction.
Concerning such writers, we also should remember that objectivity does not guarantee the truth and that so-called “objective” stories can be more misleading than stories told from a clearly presented personal point of view. As such, we should not have anything against such a personal view of a writer in his or her articles, as long as we are left to see that it is written from a personal view. By most of the blogs this can be clearly noticed.
Though we feel that there might be a truth crisis in the press world, we still can have the hope that several serious writers shall keep to the ethics of journalism and shall not fall in the trap of populism.
- Written-down thoughts
- Study Guide: Definition of Journalism
- Identifying Journalism
- Safeguarding freedom of expression
- Gossip and fake news, opposite fact checking and facts presenting
Additional articles to read
- Joseph Pulitzer’s Retirement Speech & The Traits of Journalism
- Fake News Goes Back to the Garden of Eden says Pope Francis I
- A busy 2017 #3 Fake, gossip and real news
- To protect our democratic system #1 Danger of fake and malicious social media accounts
- Defeating populism in the EU by education of the young people
- 2019 was #3 a Year of much deceit in the News World
- Manipulated content on social media
- Changing screens
- Texts, writers, accessibility and willingness
- For those who call the Brussels Airport attacks a fake or a conspiracy of the government
- International Women’s Day 2019
- Here is the truth or the lie
- A magazine with Each month a true story
- Undermining security and democracy via the Internet
- Is the Press Release Dead? No WayTruth Be Told
- Journalism Information Exploration
- The Benefits of Multimedia Journalism: A Reflection
- Talking news with Nidhi Razdan
- Identifying Journalism
- Gossip Columns: News
- Traditional News Turns into The Journalism We Know Now
- What was Learned About Journalism
- Back in the days of the desktop publishing explosion, this happened…
- Why social media presence matters in journalism
- You Want to tell stories and make history…
- Twitter Expanding Private Information Policy to Include Media
- Margaret Sullivan: What happens to society — and our democracy — when community and regional journalism dries up
- LSU Manship School Degree Helped Alumnus Build Successful Career in Entertainment Journalism
- 7 Truths You’ll Learn As An Undergraduate Journalism Student
- Facing a new era of digital coexistence
- Wikipedia Project
- The media divides the nation
- Misinformation and the Limits of Individual Responsibility, Part One, Boyd Millar
- Convergence and its Impact on Journalism During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Tom Wolfe: Substance Over Style(?)
- The End of Journalism
- Top Tips For Blogging That I Learnt The Hard Way
- A Freelancer’s Guide to Writing in New Genres
- Breaking: Marjorie Taylor Greene To Introduce Legislation That Would Hold Fake News Accountable – “The freedom of press is not the freedom to lie. And that is the biggest thing we have to focus on. There needs to be accountability, and I think that’s something we really need to look at.”