Friday, December 08, 2006

Reporting defined

The New Yorker. Add that to my list of great American innovations that really need to be copied worldwide.

In the combined August 7 and 14 issue Nicholas Lemann wrote about "journalism without journalists" the depressing trend of professionals being laid off, fired or bought out in favor of internet or civilian journalists who offer up photos and writings that have the advantage of being non-elitist. Well, really, they have the advantage to media companies of being free.

Anyway, Lemann gives a great definition of what it is I've been doing all my life, what my best friends continue to do, what we are trying to do at the center here:

"Reporting -- meaning the traditon by which a member of a distinct occupational category gets to cross the usual bounds of geography and class, to go where important things are happening, to ask powerful people blunt and impertinent questions, and to report back, reliably and in plain language, to a general audience -- is a distinctive, fairly recent invention. It probably started in the United States, in the mid-nineteenth century, long after the Founders wrote the First Amendment. It has spread -- and it continues to spread -- around the world. It is a powerful social tool, because it provides citizens with an independent source of information about the state and other holders of power. It sounds obvious, but reporting requires reporters. They don't have to be priests, or gatekeepers or even paid professionals; they just have to go out and do the work."

Hah, not bad work if you can get it -- and keep it.

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