June 29, 2017

Press Objectivity?

In light of my previous post, I would like to note something briefly. Christopher Lasch, the great gadfly, published an article in the Gannett Center Journal in 1995 called "Journalism, Publicity and the Lost Art of Argument."

In that article, Lasch stated:
The role of the press, as Lippmann saw it, was to circulate information, not to encourage argument. The relationship between information and argument was antagonistic, not complementary. He did not take the position that reliable information was a necessary precondition of argument; on the contrary, his point was that information precluded argument, made argument unnecessary. Arguments were what took place in the absence of reliable information. 
Lippmann was the progenitor of modern journalism, argued Lasch, because it attempted to be a non-partisan supplier of "information" rather than debate. However, Lasch argued that:
The decline of partisan press and the rise of a new type of journalism professing rigorous standards of objectivity do not assure a steady supply of usable information. Unless information is generated by sustained public debate, most of it will be irrelevant at best, misleading and manipulative at worse.
Lasch seems to make the point that journalism ought not to pretend to objectivity, and simply make its biases and positions clear, and forward public debate, rather than simply pretend to objectivity and become the tools of the information supplier.

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