Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why I care about journalism, the short version

A few people have asked me why I'm so into this whole OSU College of Engineering ranking thing. One reason is the simple fact that OSU is being disingenuous insofar as they are not necessarily broadcasting the fact that the ranking Ron Adams gives out is determined by... Ron Adams!

The other reason - and the ostensible point of this post - is that I care about journalism, and I see the GT as having fallen down on this one.

1) The free flow and dissemination of information is, I believe, paramount to the functioning of any kind of democracy - direct, radical, representative, faux, etc. People cannot make good decisions without knowledge. (Note that this does not lead directly to the necessity of newspapers, or even journalism as we currently understand it. Also note that knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for good decision-making.)

2) Journalism is one (historically contingent) way to spread information. I am not blind to the fact that media consolidation, capitalism and the Internet have wreaked havoc on the practice and economic feasibility of, say, newspapers. Neither am I blind to the fact that this is not entirely a bad thing, as providing new channels for the distribution of information (blogs, indymedia) has been awesome. Neither am I blind to the fact that corporate overlords like Lee Enterprises are hurting what I would consider the practices of good journalism as much as they are supporting the existence of newspapers.

3) That said, I still think there is a role for the practice of professional journalism. I would like to see professional journalism continue, as I still think it can play a large part of the role of spreading information, and thus in maintaining some semblance of the ability to make informed decisions (even if the idea that America is actually democratic is laughable, which it is).

4) Ergo, I am concerned when I see the GT do something that does not follow what I understand to be good journalistic practice. To be honest, I am surprised others are not as concerned.


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