Monday, June 06, 2005

Journalism, Government Service, and the Myth of Watergate

Media-slayer Jay Rosen's latest post on the myth of Watergate and its role in proselytizing for the "the religion of journalism" is a must-read.

And down in the comments section, presumably from a reporter talking about his experience in journalism:
The first hard lesson I had to learn: I was full of crap. Were there liars and manipulators in the governments I covered? Of course. But things are never that simple, and I learned pretty quickly that the Watergate model was a lousy way to do the day-to-day job of covering a community.
When I graduated from college, I felt the pull toward what would be a logical career choice for an energetic and idealistic college graduate: journalism. But is it good for society that journalism (rather than government service) is the natural path for such a young person? Shouldn't idealistic young people aspire to have a stake in the actual operation of our government, rather than aim to simply report on (and often diminish and undermine) the government?
-- Eric

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I am not convinced that more energetic and idealistic young people lean toward journalism than public service or other fields.
And second, one could argue that journalists are as integral a part of a free governments operation as the federal employees themselves. The best journalists (whom I assume as a recent grad you aspired to emulate) do not 'simply report on' the day to day operations of the government. Ideally they act as a conduit between the public and the government. One can certainly argue that many journalists are eager to break a big story and thus lose their objectivity and credibility. But what diminishes and undermines an open government more: unfavorable reports filed by a reporter or the unfavorable activities themselves?

4:49 PM  
Blogger poster said...

You're right. I don't have anything other than anecdotal evidence to support the claim that idealistic young people lean toward journalism more than "public service" (obviously a very broad category).
-- Eric

9:26 AM  

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