Sunday, July 19, 2009

Description and judgment

Transparency is the new objectivity, says David Weinberger:
The problem with objectivity is that it tries to show what the world looks like from no particular point of view, which is like wondering what something looks like in the dark.
Yes and or no. If the object is an object, and one is describing it, there is some sense in which, through trial and error and comparative observations, one can determine if the description is more or less accurate, for some purposes, some of the time.

In journalism, of course, the object is rarely an object, in that reified sense. One is dealing with characters, motives, interested speech, commerce, rhetorical ploys, misrepresentations, missing data, dubious sources, events sometimes rooted in earlier events, now hidden from view, veiled, or forgotten, for starters.

Then one is utilizing all sorts of processes of judgment, including the senses, but going beyond that to intuition, research, bullshit detection, critical thinking, imaginative interrogation, official records etc.

Transparency of the reporter as source can then be a valued element in his readers' (and editors') judgments of her/his total process of judgment. Prior to that, transparency of the reporter to her/himself is also a great plus, unless one works for Fox.

But neither one or the other of these transparencies, though offering significant interpretive clues, equals objectivity, so far as I can see, as neither speaks to the quality of the thinking, research, or intuitional sensibility informing complex acts of journalistic judgment.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Transparency is the old gnosticism."
--R. Tintype

7/19/2009 10:06 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

Fox clearly prefers opacity - so glad they're the news corporation of choice for Ben Bernanke.

7/22/2009 3:14 PM  

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