Sunday, December 5, 2010

Some journalists wouldn't know their job if it bit them in their TSA parts

Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy (Francois Lemoyne, 1737)
This morning, I read an article on Huffington Post by Larry Womack, a former editor of HuffPo. It was a column, I suppose, although he didn’t seem to know if he was presenting factual information for the reader to assess, or opinions supported by facts. I attempted to post comments concerning his diatribe against Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, twice. Both times, they were moderated out. Why?

Probably because I pointed out to Womack that there are far worse crimes against information dissemination than Assange’s basically “let ‘er rip” philosophy. One of those concerns the timidity with which news organizations have approached news since George W. Bush, midget moron of the western plains, told them he’d do nasties to them if they breathed the truth. I noted that when a pendulum, in this case the pendulum of lies, has swung so far, it must swing back just as far or farther to achieve balance. As far as I’m concerned, after eight eight years of Bush’s perfidy and two of Obama’s ineffectiveness (or possibly cowardice, or possibly collusion), the truth pendulum has a long, long way to go.

Destroying the media by lying to students
During lunch I realized why Womack thought his own position was admirable: It is because journalism schools have, for at least the past 30 years, churned out ignorant twits.

A case in point: My ex-husband and I hired a college student one summer to help in our business. We were, at the time, on the trail of some high-tech information we needed for a book and hadn’t found any leads. Just by happenstance, someone we allowed the intern to interview on a totally unrelated matter dropped the precise bomb we needed.

When I asked her how the interview went, the intern related the information to me and ASSURED me she had not written it down.


It turns out the lady she was interviewing had said it was off the record, and the intern’s professor had told them if someone says something is off the record, don’t write it down.


Let me say that again. WRONG.

The professor, were he not a milquetoast or government toady or idiot, should have said, "Write it down, but don’t use it as part of your story. Don’t burn the donor of the information; that would not only be unethical, but stupid. Rather, use what you have learned to pry open other doors, to find someone who also knows that information and will go on record with it."

If our intern, a student at a large Midwestern university, was being taught such bogus claptrap, I suspect most journalism students for the past 30 yearsand it appears Womack is of an appropriate agehave been equally deluded about what their job entails and how to do it.

So Mr. Womack, try again. Julian Assange is not unethical; the people who lied to the American people are unethical, and a lot worse. Criminal, in all likelihood. If names and addresses are attached to some of the  deeds and words exposed by Assange, so be it. In journalism, the first rule is: If you don’t want it found out, don’t do it and don’t say it. The same should certainly be a standard to which we hold politicians and influence peddlers, periodamenendofstorycaseclosed.