Tell the truth, journalists hooked on power

It is safe and painless to produce “balanced” news. It is very unsafe, as the best journalists will tell you, to produce the truth. The great journalists, like great preachers, care deeply about truth, which they seek to impart to their reader, listener or viewer, often at the cost of their careers.

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’,” George Orwell wrote. “I write because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

… some of the most able and talented journalists and editors in the country [at the NYT] … are besotted with their access to the powerful. They look at themselves as players, part of the inside elite. They went to the same elite colleges. They eat at the same restaurants. They go to the same parties and dinners. They live in the same exclusive neighbourhoods. Their children go to the same schools. They are, if one concedes that propaganda is a vital took for the power elite, important to the system.

But in the game of American journalism it is forbidden to feel. Journalists are told they must be clinical observers who interpret human reality through their eyes, not their hearts–and certainly not through their consciences. This is the deadly disease of American journalism. And it is the reason journalism in the United States has lost its moral core and its influence.

I keep my distance from the powerful. I distrust all sources of power regardless of their ideological orientation. I do not want to be their friend. I do not want to advise them or be part of their inner circle. The only benefit one gets from being a White House correspondent, as far as I can tell, is that the president knows your name.

Truth, at least as far as it can be discerned, is not comfortable or enjoyable to listen to, nor is the emotion and anger that accompanies all passionate assaults on lies and injustice. Sermons force those who hear them to be self-critical. They expose our inadequacies and failures. They demand that we become emotionally engaged. These are speakers and writers on he left and the right, including many preachers in pulpits, whose goal is to be admired and applauded. This is not my aim.

It is not pleasant to be disliked — and I have faced crowds that deeply dislike me and my message — but it is necessary if your commitment is to truth and the harnessing of emotional energy and passion against those who carry out injustice. I write not with anticipation of approval but often of hostility. And I write finally from the gut, not the head.

Chris Hedges
former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, in the introduction to his book The World as It is (New York: Nation Books, 2009)

Extracts taken from the posting at Din Merican


3 thoughts on “Tell the truth, journalists hooked on power

  1. Have you or all the journalists are aware of the term ‘ Without Fear Or Favour’ ? From what I read daily in Malaysiakini it is always with fear or favor for lusty Anwar or mad dog LKS. Anwar is every inch an Umno man and an Umno trained man he has in recent times said so himself. He has never repented for the many clarion calls for the non Malays to return to their ancestral country when he was the DPM and why is it that the mad dog LKS not in Malacca to get re-elected ? Why is he an opposition leader for so many decades and is leading his followers no where ? Can the leopards change its spots ?
    No doubt the present corrupted regime must be kicked out of their gravy trains but surely with the above mentioned opposition leaders that will never happen. They too have their share of major faults. Why are they unable to get elected with the majority ?
    Yet I have not seen anything written about their faults, sure all politicians are not without their faults, to err is human. But the above mentioned opposition leaders are with too many major faults that most people especially the Malaysians cannot accept. Hence they will remain as a bunch of hopeless opposition leaders leading the desperate Malaysians to nowhere.
    So don’t you think it is time a new bunch of creditable opposition leaders are found to lead this country out of this bloody shamble ? It is better late than never !

    • Please list down the creditable opposition leaders and not just blast away at YB Anwar or YB LKS.
      You have no seen anything written about their faults because they have very little fault worthy of newspaper or media space. If YB Anwar was corrupt during his stint as DPM or FM, dont you think the present government would already use all the documentary evidence to nail him. As for YB LKS, in my opinion he is one of the finest politician in this country. Has he been caught for cheating, murdering, or abuse of power….nay!
      So come on, if you want to change for a better government, you have to start somewhere. And from where i’m seeing things, the present opposition is the best candidate for change….

    • Without Fear or Favour is the title of a column written by “Mr Opposition”, the late Dr Tan Chee Khoon, and published in the Star in the early 80s.

Comments are closed.