Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Disappearing criterion

As bookmarks, here's Kenneth Minogue on Journalism, Harlotry, Pathology, and a bunch of other stimulating provocations from the realm of the long view, in the New Criterion.

Here's Jay Rosen and a passel of others' comments on same.

Lotsa insight therein. One observation - apart from noting that Minogue comes out, in his final graf, touching upon a whole other thematic having to do with the nature and historical identity of liberalism which is quite the timely theme - is that these discussions invariably seem to take as given that what we understand as "journalism" is sufficiently uncontested to allow us to fruitfully discuss it.

In other words, the moment in which a piece of journalism, or several pieces, are actually read, is not there. Jay Rosen does spend a lot of time exploring Minogue's think piece, to very good effect. But where do we see the same attention given to actual works of journalism? That moment is elided, in order to get to the fray of opinion about its place, its role, its trajectory, biases, and failings.

What does this elision possibly foreclose? What purpose does it serve? For one thing, by reducing a large variety of modes of writing (not thinking blogs here) and epistemological practice to "journalism," it leaves unexplored the possibility that the word is being used to "cover" a somewhat ill assorted group of rhetorical modes and practices.

Some of the prime distinguishing allegations regarding USian journalism include assertions about its transparency, neutrality - that is, the disappearance of the journalist and his report, leaving us readers to confront the ding an sich. It would seem worthwhile to test these out. But that would probably involve having to read some of it.


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